As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, I help clients establish nourishing habits in the kitchen and their broader lifestyle. A key step in this process is adopting a new mindset about food and body. Whether my clients are incorporating new breakfast options, meal prepping for the week, or prioritizing time to exercise, I encourage them to make these choices out of a desire for health and quality rather than a concern for weight and calories. Science shows this mindset shift is key to long-term health because it establishes a positive, sustainable relationship to food and body; one where the focus is on adding in good things to feel nourished and satisfied rather than avoiding the “bad” things.
A New Study: Quality Trumps Quantity
Results from a recent study published in JAMA and reviewed in the New York Times supports this gentler approach to eating. Obese participants were asked to focus on food quality, not calories. They were not given a calorie limit to follow, but instead encouraged to eat whole, nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, cooked at home as much as possible. Half of the participants were taught how to eat a high-quality diet with healthy carbohydrates while the other half, a high-quality diet with healthy fats. After a year, both groups experienced weight loss.
The focus on quality, not quantity, proved to be a successful approach, regardless of whether they ate a greater proportion of healthy fats or carbs. Participants who lost the most weight said shifting focus to quality changed their relationship with food. They no longer ate in the car or in front of the television. This finding suggests a transformation I see with my clients as well.
When we focus on improving the quality of our food, we also upgrade the quality of our eating experience. We become more mindful of not only what we eat but how we eat. Rather than viewing mealtime as an ongoing struggle between temptation and willpower, we begin to appreciate it as an opportunity to slow down, check in with our body, chew our food more thoroughly, and savor the experience. And it’s here -- when quality food is enjoyed in an intentional manner – where we experience the greatest satisfaction.
But as we shift our focus to quality, I want to offer one more insight. Weight -- whether it's weight loss or maintenance -- should never be our end goal. Instead, I encourage my clients to identify how they want to feel each day: greater energy, well rested, fewer cravings, in control of their choices, or better digestion. And establish simple daily habits, such as prioritizing mealtime, that bring them closer to this feeling. Because it’s chasing this feeling, not our weight loss goals, that motivates daily choices, sustains habits and health, and allows our body to achieve balance, naturally.
Call or write to Sinews for your initial appointment with Katie Schmidt today!