Five Ways To Develop A Healthier Relationship With Food

Step One: Get away from the term "Diet"

When we say diet, one automatically tends to think, this is a plan meant for weight loss, but diet has two definitions, and the second one is that it is simply "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats." All food no matter how nutritionally dense or not, provides some type of nourishment for our bodies. The starving man never once refused a Twinkie because it wasn't part of a healthy diet! Remove the stigma that a diet should be a diet in the sense of a weight loss plan only, and bring your focus into the realm of this is just food that I am eating to survive.

Step Two: 90% is still an A

Coming from step one, it's not to say, okay, well, now is the time to just then eat whatever I want and not care about nutrition. Quite the opposite. Nutrition is important. Every person knows the difference in health between eating lean proteins and fruit and veg, and pigging out everyday on pizza, cola, and chips. However, when most people decide to change their eating plan, they start to put food into two distinct groups; either the food is good or bad, and therefore if you eat from the good, you are good, and if you eat from the bad, you are bad.

You are not a three year old anymore! There is no punishment for eating this or that way that is going to happen to you. All of that so called bad food is what we in addition to nutritionally dense food, have a craving for. We crave and enjoy a burger. We enjoy trying the new unicorn smoothie at Starbucks. And you should enjoy the so called "bad foods," but on occasion. Having a good nutritional plan should mean most of the time, you are eating your greens and fiber and protein, etc, but it doesn't mean for the rest of your life, you should seek to continuously punish yourself for having a candy bar or pigging out on Thanksgiving.

Step Three: Stop calling yourself a cheater

To further the point, the goal is to have a meal plan that is nutritionally dense 90% of the time and to not label your foods good/bad. As such, why would you then need to call yourself a cheater by having cheat days and cheat meals? Consider the example of the runner trying to cross the finish line in a certain amount of time. His or her goal could be to run the whole way to achieve said goal, but if somewhere along the lines, she or he has to stop and walk a bit of the way to catch their breath or to stretch out a muscle, but still finishes the race ahead of time or doesn't, they haven't cheated themselves out of their goals. They are not failures because they had to detour from their plan in order to get to an end result.

The same goes for your food choices. Stop punishing yourself for the occasional break from your plan. You are not a bad person because you needed a chocolate bar after work. Eat it, log it, and move on. By putting so much attention on cheating and failure, you ignore a) all your hard work and good eating you've done prior to that and b) you can begin to spiral--"I cheated this morning, so might as well cheat this afternoon, and at the party later." Not necessary.

Step Four: Eat More

For a lot of people, when they think of that "weight loss diet," it means in their minds having to give up so much that they love about food, especially the so called bad foods, but most people on a healthful nutrition plan actually eat much more food then those without. If you are exercising and working hard, you need more food to fuel your muscles vs. if you have an absolutely sedentary lifestyle. The reason we often do not get full, is because we're eating processed foods that do not actually fill us up. They leave us feeling empty, hungry, and with raised blood sugar levels that trigger us to eat more foods that we don't need to. Switching to a more nutritionally dense plan allows you to cram your plate to the brim with a lot more veg/fruit, fiber rich foods, good fats, and protein that actually will help you feel satiated after you eat and get rid of a lot of the cravings you thought you couldn't.

Step Five: Know thy food

Cook more. Experiment with different foods. Read food labels. Actually do the grocery shopping. Know where your food comes from. We have sanitized ourselves against the whole process of making a healthy meal. We're eating out seven days a week and have no idea who is cooking the food or where it comes from or what all is going into it, and that's one of the major things that is making us very unhealthy. It's very easy to say, well, I'm doing everything I can to get healthy, but yet you don't know the first thing about the amount of calories or what ingredients are being cooked into your food.

Along with this, know thy body. Focusing on what everyone else is trying to do is not helping you. You being a 5'6 young woman with an athletic build and issues with your cycle has a different body and different nutritional needs from a guy who is 6'5, very sedentary, diabetic, with a high metabolism. Focus on you and what your body needs. Don't eat food just to eat it. Find foods you love that are healthy more often than not through experimentation, and find a way to eat that doesn't leave you always hungry, bored, angry, or frustrated.

BeeNee is a GirlsAskGuys Editor
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  • I wish more people would follow these tips for sure! I think a lot of people have a bad relationship with food.

    • They do. We're a diet culture vs. an overweight one, and the two often become one or the other in a vicious cycle. No one is really focusing on shutting down all that noise, and just going back to the very basics where food was about filling ourselves with sustenance and exercise wasn't a chore, but something we did as part of our day. You don't have to live on a farm in 1845 to still have a healthful lifestyle, but it starts really here, with just understanding that you can actually enjoy food and love it and eat well and feel satisfied by it without punishing yourself.

  • Thank you for sharing!