When I first became a dietitian, I thought nutrition was all about what you eat. Now that I’m older, and somewhat wiser, I’ve learned eating well is more about your relationship with food. As I frequently tell my clients, it’s not you are what you eat, but rather you are what you think about what you eat.
So, how do you think about food in a healthier way? Here’s seven ways to transform your relationship with food.
Put ALL foods on the table.
Yup, that’s right. No food is off limits. Restricting food just makes it more desirable, and when you finally do break down and eat it, you’ll eat a lot more than you normally would. Instead, give yourself full permission to eat ALL the foods you enjoy. As you learn to put all foods on the table and drop the good/bad food labels, you’ll find you naturally start eating in a more moderate and balanced way.
Avoid the comparison trap.
With social media and blogs making it easy to get a sneak peek at what people eat, it’s easy to make assumptions. But you never know the whole story, so focus on what food makes YOU enjoy and what food makes YOU feel good.
Focus on the big picture, not individual foods.
What matters for health is the big picture of what you’re eating, not to mention stress, sleep, genetics, fitness and a multitude of other factors. Instead of stressing over the minutia of your diet, like how many grams of sugar are in a cookie, think about the big picture. Do you eat a wide variety of foods? Are you eating produce on a regular basis? Do you include whole grains and other fiber rich carbohydrates? Are you eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re satisfied?
Slow down and engage all the senses when you eat. Many of my clients are surprised to realize that foods they thought they were out of control around are no longer appetizing when they pay attention to how it tastes!
I hate to sound like my grandpa who used to tell me, “there’s starving kids in China!” if I didn’t clean my plate. But really, there are people who are going hungry all over the world, and in your own town. When you feel gratitude for having food on the table, it’s hard to get wrapped up in food fear or guilt.
Treat your body with kindness.
It would be easy for me to say make peace with your body, but that’s a lot easier said than done. For many of my clients, it takes years of work to feel confident in their natural body size (it’s worth the effort!). But even if you don’t love your body, could you at least treat it kindly by feeding it with food that tastes good and makes you feel good?
Work with a dietitian.
If you’ve spent years yo-yo dieting, it can be hard to break the cycle. Look for a dietitian who specializes in Intuitive Eating or other non-diet approaches to eating.
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