A heathy approach to life should never consist of a “diet” as eating should be addressed as a lifestyle. Diets don’t work. Period. What does work is a lifestyle consisting of balance, variety and moderation.
Sometimes I like to challenge residents to think of a single food that can result in end of life and another one that can save someone’s life. Typically, I don’t get any answers in return because truth be told, we need a variety of food to meet our body’s needs and expectations. The answer is, yes, ALL foods fit!
“An apple day will keep the doctor away”?Sure, but can the apple come from apple pie? Absolutely, it can. Each food provides us with nutrients, with the only difference being the nutrient content. At Timberline Knolls, in order to find the happy medium we often talk about balance, variety and moderation.
We want our residents to see that an apple can be similar to a slice of apple pie; not scientifically equivalent, but similar. “But apple pie has fat and more carbohydrates than an apple does.” Well, yes, in essence that’s true, but without fat and carbohydrates, where would we get our energy from?
Here’s the tricky part. Just as we don’t recommend eating only one apple a day as your fruit servings, we don’t recommend eating apple pie every day either. Everything in moderation. Portion control is key.
A whole apple pie would not be appropriate, similarly consuming just 10 apples a day wouldn’t be either. In simple food-related terms, balance means servings from all the food groups each day in order to get a variation of essential nutrients.
Variety means variation within each food group to satisfy our taste buds, and moderation refers to frequency and portion sizes.
Another challenge I ask residents is to give reasons why balance, variety and moderation cannot be used as a lifestyle approach. To date, I haven’t been given one. This approach is what we refer to as normalized eating and is built into each resident’s meal plan at Timberline Knolls. The idea that “all foods fit” is not always that easy to adapt, but it is absolutely practical and possible.