Basic omelete on plate with radishes

National Nutritional Month: Let’s Trade Diet Stress for a Healthier Balance

by Gary Appelsies, YMCA Director of Healthy Eating 

It’s March and it’s National Nutrition Month. Most of us are still reeling from that January let down of the all American resolution to “diet and get healthy!” Yes, we jumped on the bandwagon with all good intentions only to find that the “diet” we chose is limiting and disappointing. Now it’s March and we are thinking of the spring and summer, looking good for our beach days and spring outings. It’s time for renewal and another chance.

The other day I was in shock.  I was watching a news report that went on to say “America's obesity problem linked to over eating.” Wow, what a statement.  I don’t want to sit here and place blame, but what about exercise and being well-rested.  Why are we simply blaming people for overeating?

Diets Come & Go, But Lifestyle Change Lasts

We have all done at least one of them.  A diet by any other name is just a diet.  A diet as far as I am concerned is not all about food.  It is a lifestyle change.  So, with all the diets out there, how come we are all still a little, well you know. Pudgy?  Diets come and go, but our combined weight pretty much has remained the same. That's because not one of these diets is sustainable past the three hours, 48 hours, or sometimes seemingly 200 years it takes to give it our all.

So, is there a “diet” that is truly sensible?  One that is sensible, delicious, and good for you? Probably not! But if I had to nominate the next best thing it would be the Mediterranean diet. It is a diet basically rich in healthy olive oils, grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish. This diet also uses less meat and dairy products than our modern American diet with a focus on whole real food.

I like it because it is not punishing, it’s not excessive, anti-food or anti-social. It’s comfort.  I imagine myself sitting by the sea, enjoying a lazy breakfast of fruit and yogurt. There's also lunch or dinner with grilled, fresh fish drizzled with olive oil, some fresh herbs, and roasted summer vegetables.  Now, I can do that!  In fact, I do do that.  What’s not to like about a diet that you are already on and hadn’t even noticed?

Big Picture: Healthy Balance in Spirit, Mind, and Body

So all we have to do is eat healthier and we’ll live forever? Right? Sadly, no. It not just what we eat. It's also how we live!

You can eat the healthiest food in the world, but if you are enjoying it while slouching in front of the TV or gulping it down while weaving in and out of rush hour traffic, it won’t help. At the Y, we believe in full, the big picture of health and achieving a proper balance between Spirit, Mind, and Body.

That's why, in addition to helping people make healthier food choices, we also help them get up, get moving and become more physically active. We help them prevent disabling, chronic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. And we help people reduce stress and forge closer connections with their families, neighbors, and communities.

During National Nutrition Month and beyond, the Y is committed to helping people achieve their healthiest best in every aspect of life. So let's start worrying less - especially about sticking to impossible diets - and enjoy a healthy, balanced life that leads to longer, stronger years.

As the YMCA's Director of Healthy Eating, Gary Appelsies is a Board Certified Holistic Integrative Nutritionist, Natural Foods Chef, and Inspirational Speaker. A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Gary also holds a degree in business from Pace University and a master's degree in Nutrition Science from the University of Bridgeport, CT. Gary is currently leading the Y's efforts to help people improve their diet and nutrition through personalized programs, healthy cooking demonstrations, and a growing number of cafes in our local Ys that provide fresh, healthy meal options that people can enjoy after a workout or on the go.