A minimalist approach to nutrition
By Ashley Speck, Clinical Nutrition Student
Minimalism is a pretty hot topic at the moment. Whether you have seen the documentary “The Minimalists”, read the Becoming Minimalist blog, or listened to the podcasts instructing you to declutter your house, minimalism is fast becoming a way of life for many people.
In many ways, it is a useful tool that can allow you to detach from objects (house, car, clothing) that you so often use to identify yourself with. There’s no rules or restriction. Minimalism acts as an incentive to find meaning in other situations, like relationships, and taking a step back from attaching so much meaning to disposable items.
It seems that there is a slow change developing, where people are becoming more aware of their self-worth as unique human beings, rather than relying on materialistic objects to define one’s identity.
Discussions around this topic predominantly focus on materialist items.
But what about our approach to diet?
Society is bombarded with diet trends, calorie counting, superfoods and supplements almost daily. If you are someone who is trying to make changes to your lifestyle and improve your overall health, this abundance of information can be both overwhelming and demotivating.
In the past, our awareness around food was common knowledge and food was locally sourced and predominantly organic. However, in the last few decades overproduction and overconsumption of food quickly enforced a lack of awareness and respect.
But If we take a step back and look at foods as they are meant to be; nourishing, colourful, flavoursome and unprocessed, maybe we might not feel so overwhelmed.
How can we approach our diet with a minimalistic view?
Eating locally and seasonally – We hear this one a lot, but by making local and season food a priority in your life, it can help to put your food into perspective. Whether it’s shopping at your local green grocer or calling up your favourite restaurant to see where they source their seafood or meat, eating locally is great for yourself and your community. A great trick to eating seasonally is keeping a season produce guide at home or on your smart phone for when you go shopping.
Designated shopping aisles – Sometimes going to the grocery store can be overwhelming, especially with all the ‘Fat free’, ‘Sugar free’, ‘Superfood’, ‘Added fibre’ marketing tricks. By sticking to designated sections of the grocery store and minimising your time spent overall, it can help to point us in the right direction. The fresh produce aisle is where we should be spending majority of our time, with the remainder of time collecting your beans, lentils or eggs.
‘Free from’ – In the 1980s supermarket shelves were full of ‘Fat free’ products. Today these processed foods have been joined by an array of ‘Sugar free’ products. The general public sees this as a positive, but what exactly do our ‘Free from’ foods contain?
When we remove the fat from yogurt, or the yolk from eggs, we aren’t just removing the fat content. Rather, but all the other nutrients that around found with it. Certain nutrients that are frequently removed with fat include fat-soluble vitamins, Essential fatty acids, riboflavin and folate. We sometimes then ‘fortify’ such foods with added vitamins and minerals. Ultimately, it becomes a vicious cycle of subtracting and adding nutrients when the main focus should be on wholefoods.
Creating healthy habits, not healthy diets – The above points have less to do with diet and are more about establishing healthy habits. By building healthy relationships with our food, we become less inclined to feel guilty when enjoying that glass of red wine or dessert on the weekend. The more negativity we place on the role of food in our life, the more this relationship becomes strained and this is when opportunistic marketing comes in to play.
There is no one size fits in regards to diets – this is present in our community with people opting for vegetarian, vegan, paleo, omnivore, pescitarian, or grain free lifestyles.
Regardless of your dietary choices, creating minimalistic approaches to food is a great starting point to regaining control of your food.
Maybe less is more.