"Enjoy your food with health in mind." - Melissa Joy Dobbins

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to hear Melissa Joy-Dobbins MS RDN CDE speak at the Kansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference. Melissa is a Registered Dietitian and host of podcast, Sound Bites, where she digs into the science, psychology and strategies behind good food and nutrition. At the end of her episodes, she closes with, “enjoy your food with health in mind.” I LOVE that motto for many reasons. I wanted to break down my interpretation and share my 3 short reasons why it's so powerful.

#1: Health is multi-faceted.

Health is not just about eating healthy and physical activity, *gasp*. The World Health Organization defines health as “the optimal physical, mental, and social well-being”.

How can you eat to have health in mind? There are many different ways, however it may help to keep the follow questions in mind:

Does it support your physical health?

Does it support your mental health?

Physical and mental health go hand in hand, but sometimes it’s ok to just grab a cookie because you want it! Of course, it’s not the healthiest thing, but if it keeps you from going overboard later (something that is often a result of very restrictive dieting), then go ahead. At the same time, eating food without much nutrition will have a negative impact on your mental health over the long run due to high amounts of sugar, damaged fats, high sodium, etc.

#2: Enjoying food is important for mental health.

Who wants to eat flavorless food?? Not me! Sure, you can go on a diet and live off brown rice and chicken for a while, but are you really going to enjoy it for long? Different seasonings can only go so far. Life’s way too short not to enjoy your food. Enjoying food is also about not feeling guilty over your food choices, as if it some moral downfall.

#3: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is key when maintaining a healthy diet. You may have heard of intuitive eating. Long story short, intuitive eating is a style of eating where you listen to your body for hunger & satiety cues and don’t follow restrictive dieting rules. For some, the true meaning and intent of intuitive eating is clouded and some can misunderstand it as a free for all eating style in favor of overconsumption of unhealthy foods. While you don’t have to follow strict diet plans and rules, it’s still helpful to choose mostly healthy foods if not for weight loss goals just to feel great and energized. For a thorough understanding of intuitive eating, check out one of my favorite books, Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD, Fiaedp, FADA, FAND.

Overall, enjoying your food with health in mind is a great way to approach normal eating by promoting health, (both physical and mental) and can help empower people to make healthy food choices that fit their goals! Does it make you approach your food any differently? I’d love to hear!