If you are trying to lose weight as part of your health and wellness goals, you might want to think about how you view food and your body.
When it comes to food and our bodies, we often try to cure the symptom rather than deal with the underlying cause. A common resolution is to start a new diet in the belief that if we can just lose a few pounds, we can be happier and feel more confident.
It’s far easier to blame our unhappiness on something we have the control to change, rather than to admit our sadness might have a deeper emotional cause. So, it’s time to learn to tell the difference between real hunger and emotional hunger.
We eat to maintain the needs of the body, satisfying our physical needs is the reason we feel real hunger. However, we are also emotional beings and eat to satisfy our mental needs, either out of habit or environmental triggers (like eating ice cream at the summer fete, or a mince pie at Christmas).
We also eat and drink for emotional reasons, such as chocolate as a treat to cheer ourselves up, or a glass of wine with dinner after a busy day to help us unwind.
Noticing these triggers and understanding our own personal habits is the first step to gaining a healthy relationship with food. When you know why you eat, you will be able to make better decisions for you, your diet and your body.
Ditch the diet
The way you eat should be part of a healthy lifestyle and not a challenge to get that summer beach body or fit in that little black dress for a special occasion. One piece of cake isn’t going to make any more of a difference to your figure than eating one salad or a smoothie. It’s the overall way you live your life and nourish your body that counts.
We are all different, and so are our bodies. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another, and finding the right balance is different for us all too. It’s better to learn how to eat a varied and balanced diet that provides all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs to function at its best.
We also need to change our vocabulary when it comes to eating. We often use negative words such as ‘sin’, ‘naughty’ or ‘cheat’ foods, and yet, in reality, no food is ‘evil’ (unless it’s covered in a green mould of course!).
However, some foods are nutritionally better for us and give us more energy such as fruits, vegetables, grains and meat. Other foods can be classed as more indulgent such as chocolate and cake.
When you start to eat more of the high energy, nutritious and healthy options, you naturally crowd out the more indulgent, fast foods.
Focus on the food you can have, rather than the food you can’t
As soon as we start a ‘diet’, we mentally restrict foods, creating a ‘banned’ food list. We focus on this list, which only makes us crave those foods even more.
Plus, our brains don’t process negatives, so when we create a new mantra of ‘don’t eat biscuits’, all our brain hears is ‘eat biscuits’!
Instead, switch your focus to all the wonderful foods you can enjoy, and experiment with new tastes and flavours.
Eat good, feel good
To focus on getting the best from your meals, focusing on eating real foods, i.e. nothing processed, and choose foods that are as close to their natural source as possible.
Managing weight loss can be as simplistic as counting calories in, and calories out, but not all calories are created equally. If you ate 1,000 calories of carrots and a 1,000 calories of ice cream, you would notice the difference in how your body responds.
If you’re feeling a bit ‘meh’ you would have a better chance of feeling great if you fuel your body with natural food to help it fire on all cylinders.
Make healthy eating convenient
We are often creatures of habit and like things to be easy and convenient, therefore making healthy eating convenient is achieved by simply making the healthier option easier to select.
It’s been shown that people who have a bowl of fruit readily available on their desk will automatically eat more of it, whereas as those with a bowl of chocolate, will consume more chocolate.
So, to make life easier, store healthy food in your fridge and cupboards where it will be the first thing you see. Have healthy snacks like fruit and nuts handy at work or in your bag so that when you are hungry, these are the first things you go for.
It’s all about being prepared. If you get hungry on the go, having a healthy snack on you will stop you popping into the local shop for whatever is on hand. Likewise, if you come home from work and can’t be bothered to cook, storing prepared meals in the freezer will make all the difference between having a healthy meal or not.
Don’t start a diet that has an expiration date;
Focus on a lifestyle that will last forever.
Sharon Cole (based on The little book of Self-Care by Mel Noakes)