• Rhian

9 ways to improve your relationship with food

Focus on how food makes you feel.

Food should make you feel good in a multitude of ways. Never eating burger and chips just because of the calories and fat content making you feel guilty afterwards, but if eating them makes you feel bloated and tired, then make a conscious decision not to eat them because of that.

Pay attention and listen to your body to what you eat and how much you eat, and how that makes you feel physically, and use that as a guide in your eating habits.

try to eat balanced meals that make you feel good because you value your body, not out of food guilt or restriction.

Calories are not the enemy.

Did you know that a moderately active 9-year-old needs to eat around 1,800 calories a day? That fact is pretty shocking when you think about that bizarrely common diet tip that advises eating 1,200 calories a day to “be healthy” or “lose weight.”

Calories aren’t evil little minions that sneak their way to your thighs and post up there in the form of fat. Calories are energy, and we all need energy to live.

I’m not going to tell you exactly how many calories you should be eating every day, as is different for everyone, but I will tell you this: calories are not the enemy, and it’s so important to be eating enough. Calories are not are not earned; they are required.

Food has no moral value.

“I’m being so bad, eating this bowl of ice cream.”

“Oh, I’m only eating these wotsits because it’s my cheat day.”

Eating wotsits is not cheating! Enjoying a bowl of ice cream is not immoral!

We have to stop with this idea that assigns moral value to food. You can’t control what other people say or how they think, but you can try to be more mindful of how you think about food.

Nutritional value does not equal moral value. Broccoli is good for your body, and pizza is good for your soul, and both foods have nutritional value.

Replace the word “cheat” with “treat.” And avoid calling any food “bad.”

Avoid mindless eating. Be present.

Mindless eating can be our downfall! crisp snacking whilst watching tv, eating a whole packet of biscuits whilst binging on Netflix.

If you are hungry, please eat! If you haven’t had enough calories, please, please eat some more. But food is something that should be enjoyed, and mindlessly inhaling food just because it’s accessible isn’t likely to make you feel that great.

Even more importantly, when you just eat because you’re BORED or because food is near you, you might not be listening to your body’s cues. It’s vital to learn how to listen to your body when it tells you that you are hungry and when you are full.

So, when you reach for that handful of crisps, sweets, chips, or chocolate, savor the crunch and the taste, and stop eating when you feel satisfied. (Easier said than done, but practice builds habits!)

Find coping methods outside of emotional eating.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with comfort food in times of real stress. However, consistently turning to food for emotional support simply will not solve your problems.

The question I think we all should ask ourselves is how is this helping me?

So sure, treat yourself to that glass of wine or bowl of mac and cheese after a stressful day, but you should also think about proactive, positive ways to mitigate stress and negative emotions outside of eating.

Would chatting with your friend help? Maybe doing a workout or going for a walk for 30 minutes? Reading a book? Listening to your favourite music? Painting? Journaling?

If emotional eating has become too much of a struggle, it might help to get professional advice from a therapist.

Assess your negative habits surrounding food.

What do you focus on when you look at a plate of food? Are you thinking about the number of calories it contains? Are you wondering how many grams of carbs, fats, and protein it has?

Many people have found food freedom through tracking their calories, and others utilize tracking to reach certain fitness goals. Nothing wrong with that at all! It easy to get obsessive with these methods though. Leading to an even worse relationship with food.

Assess any negative habits or thoughts you have related to food and work toward changing them.

Stop restricting foods.

If you have tried every diet in the book and cut out carbs, fats, and all things delicious, only to GORGE yourself on all the foods you couldn’t have once your diet ends?

Do you want to know why that happens? Because restrictive diets simply are not sustainable.

Do You want know what the secret, the NUMBER ONE most important aspect of a “diet” or particular way of eating that works? Long-term sustainability that results in a real long term dietary change for the better.

So what does that mean? That simply means that the best diet for you (excluding intolerance and allergies) isn’t keto, or vegan, or paleo, or gluten-free, and nope, not even low-carb. The best diet for you is the one you can stick to.

Let me explain that point a little bit. The best diet for you is one you can stick to and maintain a healthy body and mind; one that makes you feel good, not feeling like you are without; one that doesn’t cause you to overeat or under eat. The best diet is a way of eating that comes from a place of food freedom rather than restriction.

Restricting certain foods from your diet can cause a disordered eating mentality by labelling certain foods as good or bad. Fried foods are “bad,” so we attempt to cut them out of our diet, but face it,: you love chips!. Frankly, who doesn’t? So instead of labelling chips as evil, allow yourself to have them once in a while and enjoy them!

Allowing yourself to eat the foods you love frees you up to practice moderation. When you keep on restricting the foods you love, you increase your chances of bingeing on them when you do eat them. When you’re not coming from a mentality of I’m not going to eat a single carb/no sugar/zero fat for the next month, you’re less likely to feel the need to overeat.

Apart from your doctor’s advice, allergies/intolerances, or religious/ethical beliefs, allow yourself to eat the foods you love in moderation.

Make homemade versions of dishes you love.

If it helps you find a more sustainable way of eating, try getting creative with the foods you love. Make french fries or zucchini sticks in an air fryer. Bake things in the oven. Look up ways to make sauces or recipes you love a little bit lighter.

I am NOT suggesting you stress out about calories or cooking light all the time! but if you’re trying to be conscious of your intake but still want to eat foods you love, no need to torture yourself by completely giving them up. There are plenty of ways to get crafty with cooking and satisfy your cravings in a way that serves you nutritionally and emotionally.

Know that no particular way of eating is right for everyone.

The simple fact is that there really is no specific diet that offers the key to perfect health. There just isn’t. You have to find what works for you, and what works for you won’t necessarily look like what works for others. Again, a way of eating that you can adhere to that promotes a healthy relationship with food is best.

Have a think now about your food intake, what is your relationship like with food? which one of these ideas is going to help you the most? and how these issues affect you. Let’s replace fad diets and make healthy relationships with food the new norm!

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