For many people, it can be challenging to develop a healthy relationship with food which invariably ends up with food having a lot of power over their life and food playing an inflated role in their life. An unhealthy relationship with food can cause stress, frustration and weight gain. It’s never too late to develop a healthy relationship with food—one that is based on fulfilling nutritional needs, not emotional needs.
It’s crucial to remember that eating is for health and nutrition, not an excuse to distract oneself from one’s emotions. Most people will turn to food for comfort when experiencing an unpleasant emotion instead of just sitting with the discomfort of the emotion.
The next time that happens to you, ask yourself if eating for comfort helped you to feel better or were you still left with the unpleasant emotion and in addition to that were you angry at yourself for overeating?
I’ve compiled a list of 10 great tips to build a healthy relationship with food so that you can start taking the control back and start losing weight.
- Manage your emotions
One of the most crucial aspects of mastering a good relationship with food is to discover alternate ways to manage your emotions without the use of food. Some strategies you could try are deep breathing through the discomfort of the emotion (most emotions pass after about one minute), going for a walk, working out, meditating, listening to music or even writing your thoughts down on paper.
2. Consume three meals a day
Aim to eat three good quality, balanced meals a day. A balanced meal consists of protein, healthy fats and lots of fibre (think of a healthy salad). Find the quantity that works for your body so that you can last 4-6 hours between meals without the need to snack in between. Where possible, stick with your scheduled mealtimes, as missing meals can lead to binge eating or emotional eating later in the day.
3. Avoid temptation
Discard those unhealthy, sugar-laden snacks. You’re much more likely to binge if you have junk food, sweets and unhealthy snacks in your house or at your work desk. Avoid the temptation by clearing your refrigerator and pantry of your preferred go-to unhealthy foods. Start replacing those foods with healthier alternatives such as nuts and seeds or even dark chocolate (85% or higher).
4. Ditch dieting
You’ve heard it before, but it’s important! The deprivation and restriction that is associated with dieting almost always kick off food cravings and the urge to overeat because we deprive our bodies of essential nutrition. Rather than going on a diet, discover nutritious foods that you love and eat until you feel satisfied not uncomfortably full. Instead of banning foods altogether, try crowding them out with healthier alternatives. Another option is to plan to eat a small amount of them ahead of time (24 hours in advance) and stick to the planned quantity. You will then show yourself that you are able to trust yourself around food.
5. Get physical
It’s time to get moving. Exercise is proven to help with heart health, bone health, brain health, stress reduction and stabilising blood sugar levels, to name but a few of its benefits. Try something as simple as walking for 10 minutes a day or doing some morning and evening stretches. It will motivate you to eat well and you will start to feel proud of your body.
6. Battle boredom
One of the common reasons for overeating is eating out of boredom. Rather than snacking when you’re bored, find something to do so that you won’t be thinking about food. Take a walk. Call a friend. Read a book. Watch a funny video. Sign up for a hobby that you have been meaning to enrol into since last summer. Think of ways you can keep occupied to stop your tummy speaking to your brain when it’s not actually hungry.
7. Get adequate sleep
Lack of sleep will increase your hunger hormones. Your body will think you are starving so it may wake you up to eat in the middle of the night, store fat just in case you need it for energy or it may make you eat like crazy the following day. Aim to have 7-9 hours of sleep per night (depending on your body’s needs). Sleep will allow your body to detoxify, heal and repair itself.
8. Listen to your body
This is probably the most important part of losing weight for life. Learn to differentiate between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Ask yourself if you have an actual physical need to eat or is your brain just telling you that you are hungry? Think of a food that you are impartial to (for me it’s grapefruit), if you are genuinely hungry you would be happy to eat that food, if not then you aren’t physically hungry so you shouldn’t eat.
9. Maintain a food diary
To learn great insights from your eating patterns and to truly understand your body when it comes to losing weight, it’s important to keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, when, how much and how you felt after you ate. It may highlight patterns that reveal the connection between your moods and your eating.
10. Get support
You’re more likely to give in to binge eating triggers if you lack a firm support network. Reach out to your loved ones and friends or talk to a Health Coach like me.
Click on the link below to read about my “change the way you eat” program:
I hope to see you in the program so that you can start to cultivate a healthy relationship with food.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For medical advice always consult your physician. The information provided in this blog is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing and we do not assume liability for the information within this blog, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.