The idea that it’s possible to have a healthy relationship with food sounds like something that is easier said than done, but it’s important that the relationship stays healthy for the sake of both our bodies and our minds. When you’re trying to lose weight, it may seem that food is all you think about, but these thoughts should come from a positive place and be directed at a healthy lifestyle and how food can help you obtain this. You want to avoid feelings of deprivation, guilt or obsession. Below are some steps to help ensure that your relationship with food is a positive one.
Food Is Not…Your Enemy
We need food to live, it’s as simple as that, so having a negative view of food can be self-destructive. It’s important to stop hating the food you are eating as part of your new balanced diet, and to stop wishing you were eating something else. Healthy food is both nutritious and delicious; it’s just a case of training your tastes to appreciate real food as opposed to processed food full of fat, salt and sugar.
While it’s a great idea to educate yourself about healthy choices and how to make them, this doesn’t mean that food is something to fear, or fight against, or that you should feel guilty for eating something you know you shouldn’t. Don’t beat yourself up about the bad choices you may have made yesterday; you can waste time thinking about the past, or you can move on and make better choices today. Holding on to this food guilt will only start a cycle of unhealthy eating, you need to break the cycle; move on and make a better choice next time.
Food Is Not…Your Friend
Food is not your enemy, but it’s not a substitute for a friend either. If you have cravings that linger even after you eat, they are likely emotionally based. If you’re feeling stressed, angry, sad or lonely and find yourself heading for the kitchen, ask yourself if food will give you what you need. Once you realize that eating won’t solve your problem, you need to focus on trying to solve the deeper issue.
Talking things out with the people around you can really help with this, and can provide you with real solutions, whereas finding comfort in food often leads to more problems. It’s also important to enjoy the company of your friends and family rather than focusing on the food served as part of the occasion. Meeting up with friends or special celebrations shouldn’t be about the food, it should be about the sense of community and mutual affection, where the food prepared with love serves as a fitting accompaniment.
Food is Not…Your Boss
Food does not control you, but you should respect it enough to give it the attention it deserves. We’ve all been there; it’s lunchtime and your boss wanted that report 10 minutes ago, but eating lunch at your desk means you give neither your work nor your food your full attention. You are the ‘boss’ of what you eat so use that power wisely; eat slowly and take the time to really taste and appreciate what you’re eating so you’re able to stop when full.
You should also remember that a plate of food does not have a deadline – if you can’t finish everything, this is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it’s likely that your appetite will get smaller the more weight you lose, so it’s actually a sign of success and achievement not to be able to finish. When you take control and pay attention to what you eat, you’ll find that you enjoy food much more and are satisfied with much smaller portions.
Food is Not…Your Entertainment
Food is not a substitute for entertainment, so when you feel a little restless and in need of something to do, DO something! If it’s nice outside, go for a walk or take your kids to the park. If it’s raining, put on a music channel and dance to some of your favorite songs. This activity should distract you and give you the boost of energy you need to motivate and lift your mood. If you really are hungry and have some time on your hands with nothing to do, take the time to cook something healthy rather than reaching for some easy snacks.
Food may not be your entertainment, but that’s not to say that you can’t take pleasure in what you eat and cook. Have fun with food, experiment with new flavors, enjoy new textures and colors, and don’t be afraid to try out new combinations. Our taste buds are constantly regenerating, meaning your tastes can become more refined. The taste buds you have today are completely different to the ones you had two weeks ago, so savor your food by chewing it slowly as this enhances your palette.
Food is Not…Your Life
Lastly, it’s important to remember that having a healthy relationship with food is about not obsessing over it one way or another. Just because someone has a healthy diet does not mean that they have a healthy relationship with food, as they may be fixating on it too much. Part of an ideally healthy relationship is about making healthy decisions about what we consume without it consuming us, our thoughts, time and lives. While there is more to life than counting calories, if a person recognizes that they need to count calories in order to have a better relationship with food, then this is a big step towards a healthy relationship, as they are working with their issues instead of against them.
Having a healthy relationship with food is not about deprivation or having the perfect diet. It simply means understanding what your body needs in terms of nutrients and vitamins, and what foods can provide you with the best for your health. But, it also means feeling secure enough in your relationship to have an occasional fling and not feel guilty!
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What does a healthy relationship with food mean to you? We would love to hear your feedback about this, so please comment below with your ideas and opinions!