Think of the relationship you have with your food. What comes to mind? Do you feel anxious? Maybe a little guilty? Or do you feel proud of yourself for your healthy eating habits? Whatever you may be thinking or feeling, it’s important to focus on having a healthy relationship with food. After all, food is ultimately a source of nutrition and energy for our body. We should not be looking at food as if it’s something to be avoided or used as a stress reliever. If you’re an active person who exercises, what you eat effects your strength and endurance. Food gives you the energy you need throughout the day to be your best at home, work, the gym etc.
Consider this familiar scenario. You wake up early in the morning and eat a balanced breakfast. You leave to go to work and realize it’s going to be a stressful day at the office. You had every intention to eat well and often throughout the day, but the stress of the day gets to you. You still manage to get in a quick lunch and hurry to get back to your desk. Once you finally get home later that day, you’re feeling stressed out and drained. You head straight for the freezer and grab a tub of ice cream and eat it while sitting on the couch watching Netflix. You tell yourself you need to unwind, and it’s been a long day. You feel as though eating bad food will make it all better.
But, in fact, it’s taking away from any healthy choices you made throughout the day. Eating has become emotional, rather than fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. What you eat in private shows in public. It also effects your performance throughout the day. So, if this situation sounds familiar to you, how can you improve the relationship you have with your food?
Stay away from the fad dieting. In fact, dieting isn’t necessarily your best option. It implies it is temporary and very restrictive. Trying to drastically cut calories and not eating certain foods can trigger overeating and binging. It creates a vicious cycle as you feel guilt about overeating, and then you severely restrict your eating again, which only leads to binging again. Instead, look at healthy eating as a lifestyle change. Be realistic about how you eat. Severe restrictions aren’t sustainable, so approach eating with the idea that you want to do what’s maintainable.
Make eating regular meals a habit. Often, when we have a busy day, we fail to take the time to eat a healthy meal. We either forget to eat altogether, or we grab a granola bar and get back to work. It’s important to stay on track and to not skip your meals. When your body becomes overly hungry, it’s harder to keep yourself from overeating later. You’ll also be more likely to grab foods that are high in fat and sugar. Focus on getting in your daily intake of fruits and vegetables, and your protein-rich foods such as eggs, chicken breast, salmon and Greek yogurt.
Keep the bad food out of sight. Don’t stock your cupboards with foods that are high in fat and sugar. If unhealthy snacks are readily available, we are much more likely to grab these at night after a long stressful day. We’re much less likely to leave the house for a craving!
Find healthy ways to manage your stress. We often overeat because we feel stressed. Exercise can be a great way to reduce stress. Your body will require good food to get the most out of your workouts. Try meditation or talk with a friend or family member when you’re feeling stressed instead of reaching for the Doritos!
Remember, you have one life and one body. Feed it the nutrients it needs to function at its best! It deserves your respect. Once you develop a healthy relationship with food, your body will thank you, and you’ll look and feel better too!