8 strategies for maintaining a healthy relationship with food
What is your relationship with food?
As with any connection, maintaining a healthy relationship with food takes work and is just as important as any other connection in your life, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia.
However, many people struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food and weight loss, says Erin Clifford, Chicago-based wellness coach. For some, that means not following a diet by secretly consuming anti-diet foods such as chocolate chip cookies, muffins, ice cream, fried chicken, and fatty burgers.
It helps to keep in mind that there is no âone size fits allâ diet that works for every individual. âIf your favorite food is pizza and you go on a diet that eliminates it, it’s going to be hard to maintain,â Jones explains.
3 signs of an unhealthy relationship with food
âI’ve worked with people who brought me their food diaries, and it looked perfect, but they weren’t losing weight,â Clifford says. “I (I would ask) what’s really going on?” And they would admit that they ate food that they didn’t put in the journal. I had a client who had a hidden drawer in her bathroom that her husband was not aware of. She used it to store things like cookies and crisps. If you hide what you eat, it is not a healthy relationship with food.
Yo-yo diets are another way to manifest an unhealthy relationship with food. Some people can be on top of their weight loss diet for weeks or months at a time, then relapse and gain weight by eating sugary, fatty, high-calorie foods.
âIt’s not good for your body,â Clifford says. “We function best when we eat in moderation and are consistent.”
Some people eat emotionally to isolate themselves from their feelings, which makes it harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle. People sometimes eat because they are stressed, sad, bored, or alone. People who eat emotionally tend to seek out unhealthy âcomfort foods,â like ice cream or French fries, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
8 tips to avoid compulsive or unhealthy eating
âSome people (are compulsive) about food, the same way others are about alcohol or gambling,â says Clifford. “There are parallels.”
But compulsive eating is different from a substance use disorder or a gambling problem. There are 12-step programs to help people stay away from drinking or using drugs. drugs, but everyone needs to eat. Fortunately, there are strategies for maintaining a healthy relationship with food.
Diet and nutrition experts and a doctor offer these tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy relationship with food:
1. Think about maintainability.
Before you jump into a diet, ask yourself if you will be able to stick to the long term life plan. If the answer isn’t “yes,” you may need to make some changes to your plan to lay the foundation for a healthy relationship with food, Jones says. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products, moderate in lean protein, and low in sodium is generally a good choice.
Such a diet can help lower your risk of:
The best way to maintain a healthy relationship with food is to seek the help of a professional, such as a registered dietitian, who can suggest strategies based on your lifestyle and food preferences.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a referral network identify a local DR to set up a consultation. Plus, family and friends are a great support team in the effort to build a better, healthier relationship with food. Be sure to bring in a few members of your support system to help you achieve your desired eating relationship goals.
3. Don’t label certain foods as good or bad.
A cup of broccoli does not have angelic health powers, and a slice of pizza is not demonic. Some foods are better for your well-being than others, but no food is bad or benevolent, says Anne Lewis, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Indianapolis.
Assigning moral qualities to foods gives them unwarranted power, Lewis says. Deviating from your diet and eating junk food doesn’t make you a bad person, and you don’t need to blame yourself, which could lead to feelings of defeat and overeating.
4. Minimize your chances of making bad choices.
For example, if you’re on a low-sugar diet, you can eat a small piece of cake on special occasions, like your birthday or when you’re out for dinner with friends, Lewis says.
Limit your cake consumption to special events. Do not keep a cake at home on a regular basis. Keeping certain foods nearby can promote a habit of eating them, Lewis says. If you’re having a birthday at home and you have leftover cake, give it away or throw it away.
5. Don’t be too restrictive.
Rather than cutting out certain foods altogether, allow yourself one day a week to have a small serving of your favorite treat. For example, instead of trying to ban donuts from your diet forever, allow yourself one every seven days, says Clifford.
Trying to never eat a particular food for the rest of your life can be unrealistic. Rather than feeling like a failure if you have a treat – which could lead to binge eating – incorporate that food into your eating routine in moderation.
Write down not only what you eat, but also how you feel at the time. Documenting your eating habits and emotions will help you spot trends, advises Clifford.
You might find that you revert to your healthy eating habits by consuming crisps, cookies, or other junk foods when you are feeling sad, anxious, or depressed. Rather than having an unhealthy snack, try taking a deep breath or going for a short walk.
“If you try this instead, often the urge will pass,” says Clifford.
Instead of reheating your meal in the microwave or picking up your food from a deli or fast food outlet on the way home, take some time to cook.
You don’t need to become a chef. âCooking can be really easy,â says Clifford. “You can buy a steamer and throw your vegetables in. There are some good indoor grills. It makes you appreciate your food more if you go to the store to choose your ingredients and prepare them. It makes you mindful.”
8. Prepare to succeed at the grocery store.
The battle to maintain a balanced relationship with food begins at the supermarket, where what you buy will go a long way in determining whether you maintain healthy eating habits, says Dr. Michael Russo, general surgeon specializing in weight loss surgery at MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center in Orange. Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.
Make a shopping list of tasty and healthy ingredients. You can plan your errands to avoid aisles filled with unhealthy items. âThe last thing you want to do is load your basket with cookies, crisps, crackers, and other processed or refined foods that are high in carbohydrates,â says Russo. “They are the single most important reason we face an obesity epidemic.”
Try shopping around the perimeter of the supermarket, where fresh produce, lean meats, dairy and baked goods are sold, and avoid indoor aisles, where snacks and sugary desserts are usually sold, Russo says. . When you’re in the baking section, choose whole grain breads and skip cakes, muffins, and cookies.