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Hi friends. This month I’ve been focusing on appreciating slow progress. And one of the areas of my life that took me a very long time to progress was my relationship with food. So, I’m going to share the things you can do to improve yours too.
I go into a full explanation of this list a little further down!
Having a good relationship with food has taken me a long time, about six years. But food has such a big impact in life that it was a priority for me to figure it out. Especially as an adult who never learned how to eat healthily as a child while enjoying it!
To start off, here’s a bit of my background when it comes to food. I grew up eating pretty much everything I wanted and never gained weight. But I’d also turn to food whenever I’d feel uncomfortable feelings that I didn’t know how to address.
You can read all about my experience with emotional eating here.
Also, I came from a family where we were required to eat everything that was on our plates. This led to not being able to hear my body’s natural signals, telling me if I was full or not.
Also, it took away all the fun from eating. It was all about what I “had” to eat, rather than eating things because they were good for me.
Additionally, we didn’t eat the healthiest food. It was more budget foods that didn’t have very much nutrition. Since I come from a family with four kids, my parents bought the very cheapest options for their tight budget.
(But my mom made it work and I’m so grateful to her for prepping meals for six people for every. Single. Meal.)
And don’t get me wrong. Some budget food is super tasty! And frozen pizza is still one of my weird, guilty pleasures because it’s strongly tied to memories of hanging out with my sisters on Friday nights.
Since I was always taking dance and on the dance team, I never worried about gaining weight or “being healthy.” But later on, when I went to college, I was no longer dancing 30 hours per week. This made me gain a lot of weight quickly because I was still eating like I used to, to fuel my body for all that dance dance.
After my first semester I had gained about 25 pounds. I went home for Christmas and realized that none of my clothes fit. Then when I weighed myself, I was truly shocked. How did this happen?!
So, I immediately looked for a diet online.
I found one that was focused on fats, so I could still have a bit of a treat here and there. Also, it had a four-day kickstart which promised quick results.
I lost a good twelve pounds in those 30 days of doing this diet.
While it was awesome that I was very dedicated to my diet and had great results, this isn’t the way to having lifelong eating habits. Or how to have a healthy relationship with food.
Over time, I tried a lot of diets after this. While I was slowly losing weight, I also yo-yo’d a bit.
But the good news is that during that time, I started learning more about food. I attended tons of great courses, read a lot of books and met with some nutritionists.
And even though my main motivator was to have a “perfect body,” my relationship to food did become better and better over time.
But I still kept trying out different diets in hopes that one of them would “work” for me. Meaning, that one of them would help me lose those last five pounds and I could go back to eating like I wanted.
Needless to say, this never happened. And I got SO sick of dieting that I 100% burnt out from doing them. Even today, I can’t restrict myself at all because of my intense dieting phase.
I never starved myself or did anything to harm my body, but the restrictive mentality really took a toll on my relationship to food.
Eventually, I accepted that diets weren’t the way for me to be comfortable with food. So, I started to learn what healthy foods I liked having regularly in my diet.
Now, 10 years later, I have a pretty good relationship to food. I’m also pretty happy with my weight, so I don’t feel the need to do big “diets.”
So, how can you find a way to make friends with food, too?
First of all, guilt doesn’t help anyone. And absolutely every person on the planet loves a good tasty treat. And even those women with “flawless” bodies on Instagram indulge sometimes.
So, for god’s sake please let go of the guilt!
Also, it’s actually been scientifically proven that your digestion is worse when you have negative feelings while you eat.
I know. It’s much easier said than done. Even for me, even after all this time, I still feel guilty when I indulge sometimes.
But just accept that sweets and treats are a part of life, and that you get to enjoy them! Do your best to let go of guilting yourself. And it’ll get easier over time.
Secondly, if you really savor your food, you’re sending the signal to your brain that you’re satisfied. Also, it helps you appreciate what you’re actually eating.
Try to minimize distractions while you’re eating, like your phone or the TV. If you pay attention to what you’re eating, you’re likely to feel full faster.
The only way you’ll eat healthy long-term is if you actually enjoy what you’re eating. So, what healthy foods do you like?
One of the foods I love is eggs. I can eat them for breakfast or later in the day hardboiled as a snack. I also adore avocado, rice, chicken…and lots of other things.
The point is that I know the things I enjoy, so I know what to go for at the grocery store to keep my fridge stocked.
Alternatively, if groceries overwhelm you, I’d recommend getting a weekly meal service. That way, you don’t have to worry about going to the store or knowing what to cook. (I do this and it’s cut my stress down so much!)
When you’re switching to healthy foods, it’s very easy to just eat the same things all the time. Actually, a lot of my healthy friends I talk to say that they get sick of eating the same old things sometimes, too.
The best way to combat this is to try new foods! Whether it’s ordering something new at a restaurant or Googling a recipe to try before you run to the store, try to keep things interesting for yourself.
Because believe me, if you get stuck in a rut eating the same things, the easiest foods to grab are the ones that won’t make you feel great. And you want indulging to be a happy choice, not a last result because you don’t know what else to eat.
Did you know that I like broccoli? Well, neither did I. That is, until I tried it steamed with butter on it. Yep, I could eat a huge plateful of broccoli done this way. Not with too much butter, just a bit is enough for me to love every bite.
One of the ways to make certain you get those veggies in is cooking it how you like it. Do you like charred kale? Baked carrots? Beet salads? The possibilities are literally endless. And a lot of them are legitimately delicious.
All it takes a little experimentation and preparation to take vegetable from meh to mmm!
For me, I notice that when I haven’t drunk enough water that I’m a lot hungrier. So, make sure you’re hydrated! Always!
Finally, it’s important to be patient. Improving your relationship with food takes a long time. And it’s small actions added up that will make the difference in the long haul.
So, remember to practice these seven steps and your relationship with food will hopefully improve over time. What do you do to stay healthy with food? Tell me in the comments!
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