Today, we have a great article by our coach Dan Zwirlein. While healthy recipes can be great if used in the right manner, there are often many more important underlying things to take care of with people’s dietary habits. Sure, you had a gluten free healthy cookie, but does that really matter when the rest of your diet and habits are under par? Read on to find out!!
The other day I was cooking dinner- I was making one of those meals in my “rotation”. You know, one of your go to meals that you eat all the time. I stopped to think if what I was making would constitute as a “healthy” recipe like those that are peddled all over the internet. You know, the ones on skinnymeals.com or whatever it is. I got really scared that it wasn’t, so naturally I came to the conclusion that, “wow I think healthy recipes are really stupid,” which is the general reaction that you get when you don’t understand something; however, as I was eating I thought some more about “what is a healthy recipe?” Does this mean its low calorie? Does it mean it contains vegetables? Does it mean paleo? Low carb? Gluten free? (People with celiac don’t get upset) I am still unsure and if I am unsure then certainly others are. This is a sign that it’s just making things unnecessarily more complicated.
Maybe it’s because I like to be a contrarian but I finally came to the conclusion that this whole healthy recipe sharing thing is kind of silly.
First, I think we can agree that there is no consensus on what is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy all of the time. Anything can be argued for in the right context, for the right person, at the right time, with the right goal. Second, nothing is inherently good or bad for the reasons above, which I’ve talked about in previous posts.
Here is the issue:
When these recipes make the rounds, they most certainly are marketed towards people looking to lose weight. This isn’t the problem. I mean I love new recipes, they are like opening a new jar of protein and having the scoop sitting on top. The problem is that most people, specifically people whose goal is to lose weight, don’t need a “healthy” recipe, they need an entire diet overhaul. If getting recipes to people was the problem there wouldn’t be an obesity issue. The problem is people putting the cart before the horse, meaning most people need to establish habits and consistency first before they get worried about making the quinoa salad, the “no guilt” greek yogurt pie, or buying the gluten/guilt free cookies.
The problem is we have a limited amount of brain power and focus to allot to tasks over the course of the day so it makes no sense to me to use it for having to go to the store and pick out special ingredients because you want to try that new healthy dessert/salad/extra gluten free noodle bake when said person is completely missing the point, which is the fact that they need to establish good consistent habits. It’s trying to use tactics to solve a philosophical problem. It’s like stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. Yeah you used greek yogurt instead of sour cream but who cares if the rest of your diet sucks.
What should you do?
You should focus on establishing healthy habits and principles first like keeping portion sizes in check and getting protein and fruit/vegetables at every meal, drinking enough water, etc. By establishing habits first you do a few things: Get on track with a consistent diet ( i.e. eating a lot of the same things), you better understand how many calories you are actually eating and you establish a baseline to add foods to. If you develop these habits first and for a long period of time, (at least 6 months), then you can explore some recipes that might intrigue you. If your habits are in check, along with your portion sizes, you can also just enjoy foods that actually taste good without having to pretend that your quest bar, ”healthy” peanut butter, or frozen yogurt are worthy imitations. Sounds easy enough, sounds intuitive, sounds like common sense but why don’t people focus on habits? Because they take work, it’s boring, it’s not flashy. It’s easier to make some new fancy meals than to focus on behavior and consistency.
People need to think does this meal/recipe fit with my energy balance (calorie intake)? Does it fit with in my macro nutrient goals (fat, protein, carbohydrate) for the day? Did I eat enough vegetables today? Did I drink enough water? Make it easier on yourself first before adding complexity, which means eating the same foods over and over again then getting fancy. Ask yourself these questions and then decide for yourself, do you even need to healthy recipe?