Sometimes our relationship with food needs a little mending. We are surrounded by food at every corner, and in some places food is available to us 24/7. With so much food availability, keeping ourselves in check can feel overwhelming. Other factors such as stress or pressure to look a certain way can make us feel out of control when it comes to eating. We tend to feel compelled to diet or work out excessively. Even though it is important for us to exercise and watch what we eat, it is just as important to have a good relationship with food. This can help us develop a better quality of life by reducing the stress around food. Below, I have put together some tips on how to have a healthy relationship with food which I hope help you in some way.
Here is the deal – diets don’t work. We have developed hundreds of different diets and ways of eating but not one of them have provided us with their miracle benefits. If there was a diet with 100% success rate, we would all be on it. Diets tend to work only temporarily due to one common fact, cutting calories. What you should be working on instead is a long term, sustainable way of eating. A way of eating that is suitable for YOU. Focus on educating yourself about nutritional aspects of food, instead of calories or the concept of good vs bad food. Don’t cut out food groups because you are told to, instead eat the foods that fuel your body and foods that help you thrive. Incorporate a variety of wholesome foods in your daily eating habits and avoid restricting.
Mindful eating means being present in the moment when you are eating food. To eat mindfully, you should avoid distractions such as screens, eating on the go or in a rush. Re-connect with your hunger cues, remember what its like to feel hungry and what it is like to feel full. Digestion starts in your mouth, so don’t forget to chew properly! When you chew properly, you have already started the breaking down of your food. Make sure you sit, chew and breathe when you eat. Avoid mindlessly inhaling your food.
EXAMINE HOW YOU VIEW FOOD
Unlearn the concept of good vs bad food and re-connect with how certain foods make you feel. Do they make you feel sluggish, bloated or energetic and happy. Yes, some foods are more nutritionally beneficial for us while others are not so much. However there is not one single food group that makes you gain body fat or another which makes you shed body fat overnight. You should focus on what foods make you feel fueled and satisfied. Avoid listening to external messages about super foods or foods that are demonized.
EAT WITHOUT GUILT
Food is not your enemy, food is fuel and nourishment for all of the bodily processes that happen in your body, all day, every day. Food needs to fuel your biochemical processes as well as your daily activities. Don’t look at food as only a caloric value, or as good or bad. A plate of broccoli is not a miracle food with healing powers, and a slice of cake is not the demon that destroys your health. Enjoy what you eat weather it is a healthy meal with veggies, proteins and fats or even a slice of pizza. Don’t cloud your eating with negative thoughts of what you should or shouldn’t eat. There is no shame in enjoying food, it is normal to take pleasure in eating and enjoying a meal, we are not made to beat ourselves up about every bite.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Find an activity you love to do. Being physically active should not be a punishment for what you ate. We are made to move. Too often we hear that we should burn off the food that we eat. However, exercise as punishment for eating is a slippery slope. Focus on moving your body on a regular basis so that you develop healthier habits around movement. Take any opportunity you have to move your body, from cleaning your house, to walking daily or hitting the gym. Don’t feel ashamed if you sometimes need to rest as your body can benefit from resting and recovering rather than stressing from strenuous exercise. Remember it is what you do consistently over time, not what you do sometimes.
Having a healthy relationship with food isn’t about being perfect. It is about balance and practicing good habits consistently over time. Stress of any sort can increase cortisol (a stress hormone) in your body which then decreases blood and oxygen flow to the stomach, therefore affecting your digestion negatively. Stress can be physical, through over-exercising, lack of sleep or emotional. Practice breathing to help relieve some stress, or do a relaxing activity such as reading, or brisk walking outdoors. Develop a relaxed approach with food, this can help you with weight maintenance and overall better health. Try to slow down when you eat and become aware of how different foods make you feel.
A healthy relationship with food should not be directed by people who lead by ‘my way or the high way’ approach. It is so important to educate yourself. Take snippets of information from all sources, but never follow one individual and do only what they do. I am a big believer in educating ourselves about health so that we can make informed decisions. We are all UNIQUE, our energy needs differ, our preference for food is different, the way we move our bodies is different. If all of these factors are different then we cannot expect to be eating the same way. Practice having a healthy relationship with food that meets your nutritional requirements , fuels your activities and makes you feel good and happy.
Disclaimer – I am not a health care professional. This blog provides general information and discussions about health and wellness. The information and other content provided in this blog are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.