THE way we talk about food says a lot about how our emotions are closely related to our food choices.
Comfort food, delicacies, being “good” or “bad”, falling off the trolley …
The diet industry makes us believe that if we eat the wrong kind of food, we will be weak, bad, or failed.
With so much guilt and shame about eating, is it any wonder we strive to find a healthy balance?
But what if we took a different approach? Think for a moment what the word “diet” actually means.
Look up a dictionary and you will find this definition of nutrition: “The types of foods that a person, animal, or community ordinarily eats.”
There is no mention of weight loss, restrictions, or calories. It is the food that we eat.
When we look at food from a nutritional perspective and think about how it can change our wellbeing, we have a more positive connection with the foods we eat and we tend to naturally turn to the foods that make us feel good – which normally is is healthy food and not junk.
This is not because we are following a diet, but because we are following our own diet, noticing what is good for us, and making decisions based on abundance of health rather than calorie restriction.
When we restrict our diet, it is usually an attempt to lose weight. Browse any social media platform and you will be bombarded by people selling you their version of a fashion diet. Often these are diets with little or no nutritional consideration outside of the calories consumed.
What if we looked at nutrition from a new perspective instead of just focusing on weight loss, we would look at our health. What if we could improve our energy levels, stop food cravings, balance our moods, and feel good instead of being a slave to the numbers that light up on our bathroom scales?
It is very likely that this type of eating will result in a more balanced weight, rather than a yo-yo diet and the fault of calorie restriction.
Sounds good? Here are five simple things you can do right now to change your attitude, appetite, and relationship with the foods you eat:
1. Be mindful. Don’t eat on the run. Take the time to sit down at a table and enjoy the food you are eating. That way, your brain will tell your stomach that you are eating and you will feel more satisfied with your food.
2. Get a bird’s eye view of your diet. Instead of pissing yourself off about eating a food or meal that you find “bad”, think about how that fits into the rest of your diet. If most of the foods you eat are nutritious and healthy, the occasional high-sugar or high-fat foods won’t do much harm. One bar of chocolate once or twice a week won’t improve or weaken your health, but one bar of chocolate a day could be a different story.
3. Don’t go hungry. Eat enough to make you feel full, so you feel less craving for unhealthy snacks between meals.
4. Fat, fiber, and protein keep you full longer, so add some to your plate with every meal to support you and quench your appetite. For fats, choose olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocado, eggs, fatty fish, humus, full-fat dairy products. Increase your fiber by choosing whole grains over white versions of carbohydrates like rice, pasta, and noodles, adding an extra serving of vegetables to your plate, and thinking about adding beans and lentils to the dishes. Protein comes from eggs, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt, legumes, cheese.
5. Stop restricting your foods. No food is taboo. When we restrict “bad” foods, we can become obsessed with them and end up overeating. Instead, treat yourself to something every now and then. Sit down and enjoy. Treat your treats as treats rather than something we need to be in control of.