Our last featured article, Healthy Holidays: Your Relationship with Food, focuses on identifying and understanding our relationship with food. In this post we will share 10 strategies that promote positive relationships with what we eat.
Most importantly, remember that you’re your own person. You have your own history with food, your own food preferences, and every right to navigate this journey in a way that works best for you. A good relationship with food involves welcoming all foods in moderation, eating foods that you enjoy, not allowing food to control your life, and knowing that the foods you eat do not define your value as a person.
As with any connection, maintaining a healthy relationship with food requires work, and is just as important as any other relationships in your life. It’s one thing to hope for change and it’s another to actively try to make change happen.
Strategies to Cultivate a Healthy Relationship with Food
1. Don't label specific foods as good or bad.
Some foods are better for your well-being than others, but no food is either all good or all bad. Assigning moral qualities to foods gives them unwarranted power. If you deviate from your diet and eat junk food, that doesn't make you a bad person, and you don't need to beat yourself up over it, which could lead to a sense of defeat and overeating.
2. Minimize your opportunities to make bad choices.
Limit your sweet treats consumption to special occasions. Don't regularly keep cake or cookies at home. Keeping certain foods nearby can create a habit of eating them. If you have a birthday celebration in your home and have leftover cake, give it away or throw it out.
3. Don't get too restrictive.
Rather than cutting out certain foods completely, allow yourself one day a week to have a modest portion of your favorite treat. Trying to never eat a particular food for the rest of your life might be unrealistic. Rather than feeling like a failure if you have a treat, incorporate that food into your eating routine in moderation.
4. Keep a food journal.
Write down not only what you eat, but what you're feeling at the time. It is also helpful to take note of how you feel physically after eating. Documenting your eating habits, emotions, and physical symptoms will help you detect patterns. You might see that you backslide from your good eating habits by consuming chips, cookies or other junk foods when you're feeling sad, anxious or depressed. Rather than reaching for the unhealthy snack, try doing some deep breathing or going for a short walk. If you do that instead, a lot of times the craving will subside.
5. Cook at home.
Instead of heating up your meal in a microwave or picking up takeout on the way home, make the time to cook. You definitely don't have to become a master chef. Cooking can be really simple. Pick a protein, a vegetable, and a healthy fat. Avoid sugar and processed foods (anything in a box). It makes you appreciate your food more if you go to the store to pick out your ingredients and prepare them. It makes you mindful.
6. Make breakfast a priority.
Most people lead a fast-paced life these days. It’s easy to forget breakfast or tell yourself that you don't have time for it. However, breakfast is one meal that can influence your entire day. Breakfast needs to be a priority and don't cheat. Cereal bars, biscuits or pastries are never going to be the same deal for your nutritional health, even if they are more convenient.
7. Hit the pavement.
Everyone knows the benefits of exercise. It can help you keep off extra weight, but physical activity can also regulate your eating habits. It is a great way to curb cravings by keeping you distracted. It can also be a natural appetite suppressant.
8. Step away from the table.
Tempted to grab that last bite of the pizza slice on your plate? Maybe you don’t need it. Sometimes if you end your meal even though you don’t feel full, and step away from the food for just 15 minutes, you will feel full. Allowing those 15 minutes to step away can help the cravings to subside.
9. Make sure its maintainable.
Before embarking on an eating regimen, ask yourself if you'll l be able to follow the lifestyle plan long term. If the answer isn't "yes," you may need to make some changes to your plan to set the groundwork for a healthy relationship with food. An eating regimen rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products, moderate in lean protein and low in sodium is generally a good choice.
10. Seek support.
The best way to maintain a healthy relationship with food is to seek support from a professional, like a registered dietitian who can provide strategies based on your lifestyle and food preferences. In addition, family and friends make a great support team in the effort to build a better and healthier relationship with food. Make sure to enlist a few members of your support system to help in reaching your goals.
Your relationship with food is personal, unique, and requires regular work to keep it healthy. Though it may seem impossible to fix a bad relationship with food, it’s possible to get to a state in which food no longer controls you and instead fuels your overall well-being.
As you navigate your relationship with food, remember that food isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s the labels you put on it that give it power. A healthy, good relationship with food means welcoming all foods with no restrictions, seeing the value in food beyond calories, and remembering that your value as a human isn’t dictated by the food you eat.
Follow us to learn more about ways to improve your relationship with food and maintain your health and wellness goals through this holiday season!
- Your Friends at TWWD Fitness
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