Let this new year be the year that you nurture and grow a healthy relationship with food. How many people start the new year with a promise of new habits and break them as soon as they make them or instead resolve not to make any at all?
When it comes to eating habits, we can have long-established routines, some of which are good and some not so much. Many of our eating habits were established during childhood, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to change them! Often in the new year, we make radical promises that lead to short-term weight loss, which is neither sustainable nor healthy. Forget about focusing on particular foods and instead endeavor to reflect on your current eating routines, replace some of your unhealthier habits with healthier habits and then reinforce these new routines.
First, create a list of your eating habits. Do you notice that you often skip breakfast or eat late at night or eat lunch so quickly you almost don’t taste your food? Reflect on whether you find yourself eating because you are tired or bored or stressed. Highlight the habits on your list that may be leading you to over- or under-eat. Some common, less-healthy eating habits include eating too fast, always cleaning your plate, and eating while doing something else, therefore eating mindlessly and skipping meals.
Pick a couple of the habits that you’d like to work on. You could try spending 20 minutes over your mealtimes, work on chewing your food slowly, avoid distractions during mealtimes and commit to sharing a meal with a friend once a week. Review your progress and notice if you feel better. You may notice fewer digestive issues, find you have more energy since having breakfast or start to enjoy cooking more.
Habits do take time to develop so go easy on yourself. If old habits creep back in, just take time to reflect again and reinforce some of the new habits you wanted to try or already know that make you feel better.
Some Ideas for a healthier relationship with food:
- Remember there’s no such thing as a good or bad food—just a good or bad diet. If you notice yourself saying ‘oh I shouldn’t have eaten that’ or ‘I feel so guilty about that pizza last night,’ remind yourself that we all overindulge from time to time, so there’s no need to feel guilty.
- Avoid referring to food as clean or dirty! I’m assuming that we all eat clean food and terms like this just create unhealthy relationships with food.
- Listen to your body! If you’re hungry, eat! Most guilt-inducing eating occasions occur because we simply get too hungry. Nourishing your body during the day will reduce the risk of over-eating later.
- Eat mindfully; focus on being in the moment, and slow down. In this fast-paced world, we tend to slip in to the habit of eating quickly and bypass the initial digestive phases. The first phase of digestion is when we actually look at the food and begin to salivate. Eating mindfully is not only great for digestion, it also gives our body time to speak to us and tell us when we’re satiated.
- Don’t forgot to enjoy food! Eating can be a sociable and pleasurable experience. Take time to look, see, smell and taste your food. Eating healthily can be very tasty!