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Do You Have A Healthy Relationship With Food?

5 Tips To Improve Your Approach To Food

Posted by Pauldermody28 - June 23rd, 2016

One of the beautiful aspects of starting a fitness journey is that for most, it endorses a desire to improve nutrition to increase workout intensity, energy levels and to improve your overall quality of life. However, for some, it is very easy to develop a negative, obsessive and unhealthy relationship with food.

Why Do People Have An Unhealthy Relationship With Food?

Many people will (unbeknownst to them or otherwise) develop eating disorders with varying degrees of control (or lack thereof). For example, here's a rhetorical scenario where I am simply going to use myself as an example…

Recently I've found myself paying attention to that little extra stubborn body fat lurking around my belly. I've been in the gym five days a week and I've not seen the changes I want to see in my body. Therefore, starting tomorrow, I'm going on a low-carb diet with nothing but meats and vegetables. I'll probably last a few days, and once I reach my limits with its monotonous boredom, I'll probably end up binging, over-eating for the pure sake of it, and feel really bad about myself and the diet (and more importantly, the vicious cycle begins again).

It is a revolving door of sorts, unless you learn to obtain 100% control of yourself and your dietary habits. Be the master and not the slave. Here are five tips I have found very useful for healthy food relationship development.

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1. Don’t Diet

Excessive caloric restriction can, and in most cases will, lead to over-eating.

Banning foods completely can lead to an automatic increase in cravings. Therefore, the concept of being "on a diet" implies that it will end at some point, and then what? Will you just return to the original start point? What's the point of that? Why did you suffer in hunger for the previous six weeks then?

Eating to nourish and nurture both immediate hunger and long-term satisfaction is the way to go. Eat plenty of nutrient-dense whole-foods such as nuts, nut butters, sweet potato, oats, wholegrain breads, leans meats and fish, fresh vegetables etc. Do this until you’re at a level where you’re satisfied, but not stuffed. This will keep your focus, energy levels and determination in check throughout the day. Remember, long term health and fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.

2. Indulge Moderately As Necessary

Most people I talk to who seem to have developed the 'diet-binge-diet' mentality share one common denominator – they eat "perfectly", and indeed restrictively, for six days a week, and on cheat days they lose control and eat an abundance of processed/junk food almost for the pure sake of it.

I find the most effective way of combatting this is to factor in foods that taste great regularly. For example, I put a stick of dark chocolate into my oats twice a day. It tastes amazing and keeps my cravings completely away. They don't even get a chance to appear at all.

On days where this isn't quite enough to satisfy, try replacing one carb source in your daily meal plan with a standard chocolate bar. This can be the real difference between staying on track vs all-consuming destructive cravings. Keep the treat small though. Balance is key to longevity so don't justify over-eating as balance. Find the sweet-spot so your goals don't suffer.

3. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

If you don’t want to slip, don’t walk on a slippery surface. Likewise, if you don't trust yourself around processed and sugary food (relax, you're human, this is normal), then simply don't keep them in the house.

Purchase as necessary, but largely aim to keep the foods that make up the bulk of your meal-plan at your disposal. You're much more likely to reach for the easy readily-available option if given half the chance.

By keeping whole-foods in the house, you're much more likely to whip up a quick stir-fry with chicken, mushroom, peppers, onions etc. with whichever carb source (e.g. rice or sweet potato)or fat source (e.g. nuts or avocado), and enjoy the feeling of being fuller for longer and without the self-resentment of eating foods you know will be detrimental both physically and mentally.

4. Eat Breakfast

You've heard this one a thousand times, but it's possibly the most important. Eat your breakfast.Simple. It will curb your cravings later on in the day, so that you are less likely to be starving by mid-afternoon or evening, and reaching for that ever-so tempting chocolate bar.

5. Compare

Yes, I’m always saying to never compare yourself to anyone, EVER, but this is the one time you will hear me use that term. Think of it this way – the next time you indulge and you feel guilty about it, think about how you would react if your mate told you that they just ate a tub of ice-cream or too much chocolate etc. You'd literally think that there's nothing to worry about, and that one bad meal isn’t going to make you explode with fat. You'd almost think their worry was a little silly.

Just apply that logic to yourself and move on and eat your next meal as you would usually. Don't beat yourself up and feel useless. Keep in mind, if your mate told you "You just had a treat. You're absolutely useless", you wouldn't want to be in their company any longer. Therefore, don't speak to yourself that way either. Thoughts become reality. Don't let your esteem plummet just because you may have had an impromptu indulgence.

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Remember, it's a very long life to live when your self-esteem is low, just because of your nutrition. Don’t let food control you more than you control food. Adopt principles to ensure longevity with your ‘diet’, and reap the benefits of exercise and healthy, balanced nutrition.

The world has enough ways to add stress to your life, so try to ensure you have maximum control in at least one area of your life where you do indeed have potential to control it fully. I speak as someone who has suffered unhealthy relationships with food in the past, and has come out the right end.

I hope this helps anyone who has good intentions, but feels that they are alone in this scenario. I assure you that you're not. Thank you for reading!

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