Just like movement is about more than going to the gym, nutrition is about so much more than what we eat — it’s connected to our mindsets, beliefs, and of course, our habits. This is one of the topics we discuss in our new book, Your Time to Thrive, where we provide actionable tips and science-backed Microsteps that have worked for real people when it comes to prioritizing nutrition and hydration on a daily basis.
We asked our Thrive community to share with us what “eating well” means to them, and small ways they practice it every day. Which of these definitions resonates with you?
Listening to our bodies without restriction
“As a dietitian, I try to ‘eat well’ most days. To make the most of what you eat, perhaps the best word to keep in mind is not ‘allowed’ or ‘avoid’ but instead, it’s ‘balance.’ I find the best way to eat is to consume foods you love, and that love you back, because they take care of your body and make you feel good. I try to eat without drastic restrictions and follow what my mouth and mind needs.”
—Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, New York, N.Y.
Finding connection in our meals
“I try to eat foods that I am connected to. I firmly believe we need to be meaningfully connected to our food. Eating well is about viewing food as more than a commodity. It could mean eating food that connects us to culture. This could be our own or one we are discovering. It could mean eating food we’ve grown, or knowing about where our food comes from, including the companies and people who developed it. Eating well could mean mindful eating, passionate eating or intentional eating. Eating food that we are meaningfully connected to encourages healthy eating.”
—Danielle Richards, psychology professor, NV
Asking our body what it needs
“I enjoy eating in a way that honors my body, mind, and spirit. I start by recognizing that it might change day to day, week to week, and year to year. A daily practice that helps me is the practice of pausing and checking in on a regular basis. I ask myself what I need that day, in the same way you would a child what they need. Then, I listen for the answer and respect it.”
—Gillian Goerzen, health and fitness coach and intuitive eating counselor, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada
Focusing on whole foods and simple recipes
“For the past few months, I have been focusing on whole foods instead of packaged foods. I went online grocery shopping and began to order more fresh vegetable items, like sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, and fresh fruit. I love creating healthier recipes, like my healthy oatmeal cookies. I even started posting my ‘office lunch’ on my Instagram to show how simple it can be to eat healthy. I wanted to dispel the notion that it must cost more and take so much time to prepare. I have always loved food, so I feel like an entire new world has just opened up to me and I am literally eating it up.”
—Deb Rosman, author and speaker, Madison, WI
Incorporating color into our meals
“For me, a colorful and aesthetically pleasing plate often leads to a nourishing meal. I try to incorporate as many colors as I can, with veggies and grains. Using a nice plate, bowl or other vessel also helps as I eat with my eyes as much as with my mouth. A pretty plate leads to a pleasing meal!”
—Marta Rzeszowska Chavent, management and change consultant, France
Eating to support brain health
“For me, eating well means eating plant-based meals that fuel healthy digestion and brain health. We tend to forget that our brains are nourished by what we eat and drink, and optimizing our nutrients can help our minds.”
—Kristin Meekhof, author and wellness consultant, Royal Oak, MI
Prioritizing nutrients that make us feel good
“Eating well to me means focusing on giving my body the gift of as many nutrients as possible. When we fuel our body with the real food and hydration it craves, everything functions better. We have improved sleep, increased energy and clarity, better digestion, decreased stress and anxiety, balanced blood sugar and mood, to name a few. I make sure to try to include a variety of healthy fats, fiber, quality protein, and greens at each meal. I often have smoothies in the morning and I can pack in lots of veggies and nuts and seeds, starting my day off nourished and cared for.”
—Kristen Reed, registered nurse and certified health and wellness coach, Boston, MA
Nourishing our bodies and minds
“Our family’s motto is ‘nourish to flourish!’ We always prioritize the quality of our meals and snacks above the calorie content. Hydration, sleep, physical activity, everyday stresses and environmental factors also play a major role in our physical and mental health. We aim for at least 64 ounces of water each day, try to sleep 7-9 hours every night, incorporate self-care and exercise weekly, and do our best to keep the environment around us clean.”
—Helen Agresti, RDN, professional nutrition consulting, Erie, PA
Eating a range of foods
“For many years, I struggled with gut health issues and low energy perpetuated by a narrow diet. I know now that the diversity of the bacteria population in the gut not only influences how comfortable your tummy feels, but can have far-reaching effects, influencing overall health and well-being too. One of the key things that helps it to thrive is consuming a diverse range of foods: particularly plant-foods that provide a cross section of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients and more. Focusing on eating across the colour spectrum day-to-day is an uplifting, intuitive, and satisfying place to focus attention and achieve that all important diversity.”
—Sarah Grant, nutrition and well-being coach, Surrey, U.K.
Thinking about our long-term health
“I had breast cancer twice, and was diagnosed with a rare primary brain tumor in between the cancers. I wanted to get to the cause and discover why my body was responding this way without solely relying on meds. I finally found a doctor that specializes in epidemiology and nutrition in 2010 who helped me, and the experience inspired me to get a health certification in nutrition to help me better understand food. We are all different. I make sure to drink water first thing in the morning and throughout the day. It’s a habit that has been passed on to my sons. They saw what their mom dealt with and how what you eat can affect your health.”
—Brigitte Cutshall, solutions consultant, metro Atlanta, GA
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