If you had to describe your relationship with food, what would you write it up as? Complicated? Healthy and happy? Destructive? Whether you’re following bad food habits or have negative thoughts about food, here’s how to get out of your rut.
1. You Eat Mindlessly
You watch TV or chat on your phone while snacking without really focusing on what you’re putting in your mouth or how much of it. Does that sound like you? To understand just how mindless eating can be, consider this: a study found that when given extra-large containers of stale popcorn, people watching a movie still consumed it out of habit. Scary stuff! Start focusing more on what you eat. Choose to eat at the table instead of in front of the TV or computer, and eat your food from plates instead of diving straight into their containers. This prevents you from overeating and it improves digestion while keeping you in the moment.
2. You’ve Made Calorie Counting an Olympic Sport
Counting up those calories is a good thing to avoid weight gain, but if you’re making yourself sick over how many calories are in that slice of chocolate cake to the point where you’re scared to touch it, you are treating food like an enemy. We need to eat everything in moderation to have a balanced life. Research has shown that when you’re counting calories meticulously and limiting their consumption a lot, your body creates more cortisol. This is a stress hormone that actually makes you want to eat more, boosting your cravings for sugar and fat. This also leads to an increase of fat around your midsection. It goes to show how anything too extreme has the potential to become dangerous to your health, in more ways than one.
3. You Feast on Guilt
You were doing really well with your diet and then you fell into temptation and ate unhealthy foods. Now you are left with the bitter taste of guilt in your mouth. Berating yourself over bad food choices is actually capable of making you repeat the behaviour rather than if you motivate yourself from a place of kindness, such as by coming up with solutions to prevent them in future. An example would be ensuring you have a packed lunch for the next time you’re busy and want to reach for fast-food. Keep things in perspective. One ‘bad’ meal isn’t going to make you put on weight. It’s really the repetitive eating habits that leave their mark. Finally, treat yourself in the way you would your best friend. Would you give her a lecture if she confessed to eating a bit more than she should have? No way! Who says you deserve it?
4. You Eat Your Feelings
We’ve all been there: you have a bad day or fight with your boyfriend and reach for the ice cream tub. If you’re constantly eating your feelings away, though, this can be a negative food habit. Not just because it can be bad for your health, but it also prevents you from dealing with what you need to process. The next time you feel something and get the urge to eat it away, take a moment to think about what you’re really feeling and why. Are you bored? Frustrated? Anxious? You can be sure that the answer to your problem is not at the bottom of that chocolate cake so ask yourself what you need right now other than food. Maybe a walk will help you work off that anxiety or taking a nap will bust that tiredness. This starts healthier habits in future.
5. You Eat Because You Have To
Food is one of the great pleasures in life. That doesn’t mean you should be eating anything and everything in your kitchen in one go, but it does mean that you should save space to enjoy your meals. Don’t eat just for the sake of it, grabbing whatever’s available because you’re hungry. Really take time to be in the moment and enjoy every bite. Make food a pleasure by trying out creative, organic meals and snacks that are delicious and good for you. Be grateful for the food you get to eat, when so many others are starving. See food as the nourishment it is, the fuel you need to achieve greatness. By having a good relationship with food you allow yourself to be healthy and happy, inside and out.
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