While working as a personal trainer, I had a client that wasn't seeing the results…
Food has become a focal point of our lives to the point where our relationship with eating has become unhealthy. Yes, food has always been one thing that has brought people together. However, it seems to be stealing time and focus from cherished moments in our lives. For example, at parties, we tend to get so fixated on eating that we tend to snack mindlessly. Who has been out to dinner with friends when the food and restaurants you like has become the favored topic of conversation? The good news is you can begin tipping the scale in your favor towards a healthier relationship with food (and weight) by adopting some (or all) of these eating habits. Slow down. Chew your food.
It’s not entirely our fault that our relationship with food has become unhealthy. A lot of the blame falls on the food industry for making processed food so palatable, hunger provoking, and easy to eat in large quantities. A lot of processed food even bypasses the need to be chewed more than five times before you can swallow it. Believe me, this is not by accident. The faster you can eat, the more you will because your brain doesn’t have time to process that you have had enough. Eating real food helps of course, but if you can’t focus on chewing.
Is it just me or have our relationships with friends and family become more superficial? Sure, technology, namely phones, plays a big part in stealing our focus. However, food can as well. Before you reach for more chip dip, take a second to pause and become more aware of the moment you are in and the person or people around you. Are you listening to what they are saying, or is your mind on what appetizer you want to try next? We mustn’t allow food to steal these moments and conversations. Even if we are alone, we can sit with ourselves and listen to our thoughts or music we enjoy.
Our lives are so busy now that we rely on foods of convenience to fuel them (pre-quarantine). We hardly allow ourselves time to sit down at a table and eat a real meal. Rather than relying on fast food or unintentionally skipping meals, aim to prioritize the time required to sit down and eat with intention. Otherwise, plan to skip a meal (or two) with the purpose of time-restricted eating or fasting. Fasting has many known health benefits when done correctly. Here is a quick guide to get started. Before trying any fasting, it pays dividends to learn the best strategies for successfully implementing this tool (and safely) into your routine. When it comes to food that we put in our bodies, sometimes nothing is better than anything you happen to find at a convenience store. Of course, you would want to consult your physician before starting any diet.
We’ve all felt guilty about indulging in some food we didn’t think we should eat because it’s “bad for us.” However, the feeling of guilt steals our enjoyment of food. Guilt can also lead to stress, which may worsen our body’s physical response to the food (higher blood sugar, for example). We can eliminate the guilty feeling associated with eating indulgent foods by the power of choice. I call this the “eat the cake on your wedding day rule” referenced here when talking about how to walk by any donut at work. Simply, you fill in the following statement:
I am choosing to eat (indulgent food) because of (emotionally filling reason/experience).
You don’t have to wait for a wedding. It serves as an example of one of the highest emotional experiences. The point is that the situation or experience should feed you on a deeper level than just physically.
Once you can repeatedly apply this rule, you’ll feel a little more selective about the foods you eat and a lot less guilty.
If you haven’t heard of an elimination diet by now, you eliminate potentially problematic foods for a given period and make a note of how you feel. The duration and food groups greatly vary, but the intention behind each is to enhance our awareness of how food makes us feel. Knowing the physical and mental effects of food on us is key to having a healthier relationship with it. However, don’t let any diet define your identity. Food awareness can become problematic if taken too far to worry about everything you eat and stressing in situations where you lack control. The Whole30 is probably the most popular of the elimination diets.
These five ways to improve your relationship with food stem from an approach known as intuitive eating. It focuses on eating without guilt, understanding when we are full and quite simply enjoying the pleasure that eating brings. We must also realize food addiction is a real thing and these tips may not work for everyone. Sometimes, it takes a trained professional who can help dive deeper into your past beliefs that significantly affect the relationship we have with food.