One of Momstamp’s favorite sites for nutritional advice and healthy living is, KaleandKant, by Kelly Rogers Victor.  Each week Kelly brings her unique philosophical lens to the nutritional challenges facing our busy families while also offering simple, family-friendly recipes and nutrition tips. We’re thrilled to have her guest post for us today!  

Kelly is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a Healthy Cooking Instructor, and holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University. She offers one-to-one coaching as well as individual and group cooking lessons in the Detroit area.      -jh


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If you’re looking to the media for direction on healthy eating, good luck with that. Not only does a new study appear each week that contradicts everything published the week prior, but fixating on popular concepts like “organic,” “omega-3,” “gluten” or “carbs” is the wrong way to approach building a healthier diet.

Here’s why. When you focus on individual nutrients or qualities of foods, you fail to address the most important factor determining your overall level of health and fitness: your general way of eating, or what I call your food pattern. Do you typically fail to get enough fruits and vegetables? If so, adding daily omega-3s won’t do anything to make you healthy and thin. Do you eat a lot of white flour and sugary drinks? Then making sure every morsel is certified organic will not make you drop weight or gain energy. Doing a juice cleanse? That’s nice for this week, but where does that leave you when you inevitably go back to your old way of eating?

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What is your food pattern? That is the question you must address to reach your diet goals. Have you heard of the Four Questions at the Passover Seder?

The Four Questions of Healthful Eating 

allow you to assess your personal food pattern.

  1. Do I eat whole grains and generally avoid sweetened and processed foods?
  2. Am I consuming healthy fats such as those found in nuts and avocado?
  3. Do I generally avoid sweetened and processed foods?
  4. Do I limit animal foods, and do the animal foods I eat come from nontoxic sources?

There are other important nutritional issues, of course, but in my coaching practice I have found that these are the big four that will determine the quality of your diet. If after self-analysis you find yourself lacking in any or all of these, what should you do?

Above all, do not try to change everything at once since a drastic diet will always fail. To make change easy and doable, you must make small incremental improvements, and wait to add more until the first ones solidify into habits. Forming habits is the key. Habits are automatic and easy. They don’t require thought or willpower. They take over and let you focus on other things, like enjoying your children and your life.  

Here’s an example of how to proceed. Say you answered “no” to question one. Ask yourself honestly what small improvement you could live with in this area. Let’s say you simply start to make sure there is a fresh fruit or vegetable eaten every time you dine or snack. Instead of just a granola bar at 10:30am, for instance, you add a small apple. In the afternoon, you add celery sticks to your cheese and crackers. At breakfast, you slice half a banana onto your cereal. And so on.

Do that for two weeks. Once you’ve got it down and it’s habitual, build upon it. If you were only having a salad with dinner, add a cooked vegetable as well. If you crave something sweet before bed, try a bowl of melon. And so on..

I’ve coached many clients over the years who’ve tried and failed to maintain a healthy weight by crash-dieting or by fixating on concepts like “organic” or “gluten.” But there is a reason why the vast majority of dieters yo-yo and fail to reach their goal. It is because they never stopped to analyze their habits and put in place automatic behaviors that would support a better food pattern.

You’ve got better things to do than stress about the media’s latest nutrition craze every time you eat. Start by asking yourself the four questions, and then use the power of habit to automatize a better way of eating by making small, doable, incremental improvements that, over time, add up to big, and more importantly lasting, changes.

Has Kelly worked with you? Recommend her here! 

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And check out Kale and Kant for more nutritional wisdom from Kelly.

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