Most people have some level of awareness of the significance of healthy eating on both physical and mental well-being, whether you are exploring the relationship between vitamins and nutrients and their impact on hormones or are looking at calorie content and their effects on the waistline. However, despite this awareness, many still make poor food choices, and this is not just down to a lack of will-power – there are a whole host of reasons why this may be:
It is too confusing
It is easy to become confused when scouring the shelves at the whole array of products available. Marketing suggesting products as ‘low in fat’ or ‘gluten free’ often misleads people into believing they are making healthy choices. A yoghurt, for example, may state that it is low in fat while being very high in sugar. Recognizing that the terminology that appears on packaging is tailored to appeal and is a marketing tool first and foremost can lend a hand to making better food choices in the future.
Reading and understanding nutritional information as well as paying attention to the calorie, saturated fat, salt, and sugar content will give you a better overview on the overall suitability of the product you are purchasing. It is a minefield out there, and it can be easy to be sucked in by marketing tactics designed to fool you into making quick decisions about a product.
Eating too much
They say you can have ‘too much of a good thing,’ and nutrition is no exception. A common slip up people make is consuming too much food even when that food is considered ‘healthy.’ This is particularly problematic from a weight perspective.
There is an array of online tools available to both calculate and track your calorie consumption, and weighing your food and exercising portion control is crucial for accurately measuring how much food you are consuming and knowing whether this is excessive.
Categorizing food into good and bad can result in certain food groups being ‘demonized.’ If you associate a particular food stuff as being ‘bad,’ you are inclined to deprive yourself of it. This can ultimately result in cravings or binging on the absent food stuff at the next opportunity.
This can be a significant factor in affecting mental health. The demonization of food can result in eating disorders, depression, or anxiety, with many people experiencing guilt when they consume ‘bad’ food. Having a little of what you like and factoring it into your calorie allowance will ultimately improve your relationship with food and your mental wellbeing.
Social, environmental, and cultural factors
There are a number of social factors that can be influencing an individual’s diet and effecting their nutrition indirectly. Factors that may play a part in this include:
Access to food
Stress, depression, and anxiety
Cultural or religious beliefs
Diabetes or other existing health conditions
These issues are common problems facing individuals and a challenge for many in the social work sector. Social workers often have a limited amount of time with clients, and directly tackling health and nutrition concerns may not be top of their agenda. However, the work of social workers is significant in tackling the underlying issues facing people who, as a result, are leading to dietary neglect.
If you are seeking a career in social work, it is possible to obtain a social work degree online. Working as a mental health clinician, therapist, counsellor, or social worker will inevitably allow you to help people tackling some of the bigger problems and ultimately improve their health and wellbeing, which may facilitate a healthier nutritional lifestyle. For those who may be suffering from issues listed above, it is possible to seek out support to help tackle these.
We live in a fast-paced, busy world. People are juggling careers, families, active social lives, hobbies, and relationships to name a few, and for many, convenience is of a high priority. You may regularly grab lunch on the go or pick up a takeaway for dinner after a long day at the office. Unfortunately, most convenience food does not have a particularly high nutritional value and is often higher in calories, salt, sugar, and saturated fat. It can also contain many preservatives and additives designed to extend self-life.
This is a challenging issue to fix, because ultimately, it requires you to either find or create time to remedy it. Preparing lunches or evening meals ahead of time can create convenience in the future. Batch cooking dishes and popping your portions in the freezer can ensure a supply of homemade ‘ready meals’ are available at the end of a long day. Preparing your sandwich for your lunch break may stop you grabbing a quick energy fix on the go, such as cake or chocolate, which is far less filling and nutritious.
Fall in love with cooking again by trying out new recipes with your friends or family, trying new flavors and new ingredients, and making the cooking experience more exciting. This will hopefully make the task of preparing meals less chore-like and motivate you to delegate a window of time for getting prepared.
Seeing food as a reward
Food is not a reward – it is a fundamental requirement for survival. Treating food as a reward has the potential to create the previously mentioned ‘demonization’ of food stuffs. It may also result in you eating more as you continue to carry out actions that earn said reward in order to have it again.
Exercise is a common area that is ‘rewarded’ with food. Eating a ‘treat’ because you have completed an exercise is common for many people. Unfortunately, unless you are an athlete, the food you consume often barely counteracts any calorie burn you have achieved through exercising. For example, an average person will burn around 100-120 calories on a brisk, 30-minute walk, while an average chocolate bar contains around 260 calories. Instead of rewarding your efforts with extra food, simply factor the said calories into your daily allowance and just enjoy it as a part of your meals.
It is easy to get lost in the sea of information available regarding diet and nutrition. It is valuable to stay informed and aware of the content of what you eat, but this can also be incredibly daunting. If you have concerns about your diet, you can seek advice from your medical practitioner, who should be able to give you clear advice or even refer you to a dietician to help you implement a food plan.