Are you sick and tired of the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting, overeating, deprivation, feeling shame and guilt and hating your body? If yes, it’s the time to rebuild your relationship with food.
Our relationship with food is complex, and to complicate things further, the world we’re living in encourages women to diet and then blame themselves when these diets fail. Having a good relationship with food isn’t something you can achieve overnight. Instead, it’s something you’ll likely have to work on your entire life.
Here, I’m going to give out 7 tips you can do to rebuild your healthy relationship with food.
1. Have Gratitude for Your Food
So many times we forget to take the time to sit down properly and eat. Eating does take time, and you definitely should take the time to chew your food properly. Looking ahead at your day and set aside some quality time to eat, rather than munching on whatever is in between your hectic schedule. Stop and think about how this food got to your plate and how lucky you are to have access to it. It is a gift that is about to nourish your body.
2. Give Yourself Permission to Enjoy Eating
This means not placing any particular food group “off-limits” or label them as “bad” or restricting yourself to only have it specific on “cheat day”. Instead of suppressing your craving, enjoy a reasonable portion without feeling bad about it. When you allow all foods into your diet, you’re better in controlling your intake, as you know these foods are always available. However, when you restrict foods and believe they’re only available on specific day, you’re much more likely to overeat and subsequently enter an endless cycle of guilt.
3. Practice Mindful Eating
Every person is born with the natural ability to regulate hunger. As people age, they begin to lose this ability for several reasons, such as the smells of freshly baked pizza, the sounds of frying chicken, and feelings that make them crave certain foods even though they aren’t physically hungry. Sit down and engage your senses with every meal: Smell food, look at it, and taste it with appreciation. The closer you can get back to listening to your natural hunger cues, the better you can regulate your appetite and manage your food intake.
4. Let Go of Perfection
No one eats “perfectly” since perfect does not exist. Try to release the need for perfection by remembering you are exactly where you need to be. The key to living a healthy lifestyle is balance. If you are too rigid, restrictive or strict about nutritious eating, you could be setting yourself to fail. Eating should not be measured by an activity or body shape. You need to remind yourself that you’re not there for the food, you are there to have a good time, socialize, and make memories.
5. Stop Punishing Yourself for What You Ate
Whining on the past does not serve you or your body. All it does is cause stress and anxiety, which pushes you further from health and happiness. Go easy on yourself if you end up overindulging occasionally. Everybody overeats once in a while. The best you can do is continue to nourish yourself appropriately and just get back into your normal routine at the next meal or the next day. That’s no need to sweat for what’ve done. Constant fixation on what you’re going to eat next or using exercise as a form to compensate for what you ate is not doing you good in the long run.
6. Eat When You’re Physically Hungry
Too often, we aren’t eating because we are physically hungry. We’re eating to soothe ourselves emotionally. Whether it’s stress, anxiety, heartbreak or even happiness, we often crave high-calorie, fatty delicious foods and binge until we end up feeling awful afterwards. Instead of numbing your feelings with food, find another way to deal with your feelings, such as going for a walk, calling a friend, reading a book, taking a relaxing bath, or going to the gym.
7. Feel Your Fullness
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize your body is not hungry anymore. Our bodies have some pretty loud cues that let us know when to eat and when to stop eating. But at some point, we stopped listening to our bodies. So, try to eat without distractions from the television, phone, or computer. Instead, devote all your attention to what’s on your plate. Pause halfway through your meal and check if you’re already had enough. This can help you eat slower and better digest your food.
Taking the first step to rebuilding a healthy relationship with food is scary and difficult but well worth it in the long run. Remember that food isn’t inherently good or bad. Once you can let go of these labels and guilt, you will let go of so much stress and anxiety and realize that food and eating are fun!
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