You might find it an unfamiliar type of concept to hear people talk about their connection with food as a relationship. Most people don’t even think that they have a relationship with food. But they do, really. Just look in the dictionary and you will see that the word ‘relationship’ means two or more people or things which are connected. Essentially, if you are feeding your body with healthy and good foods, what does your body do? It thanks you in return by supplying you energy, happiness, and balance. Just as you wouldn’t ask someone over to your place with whom you don’t get on with or who doesn’t make you feel good – so it is with food. Food needs to be beneficial and enhancing to your body because you are welcoming it into your body.
Food impacts your attitude toward life, negatively or positively
If you eat something that doesn’t agree with you, you know how it can ruin your day, it can make you feel nauseous; even ruin your plans. We have probably all had moments in time when we ate something that looked wonderful, like a big piece of chocolate cake or a huge tub of French fries – what about that hot dog or burger? It’s yummy stuff, right? But eating these can leave you feeling really awful a few minutes later. Tyramine is the name of a chemical that gets formed when certain proteins in dyes, food colorants, and nitrates, which is found in processed meats such as hot dogs, breaks down. It’s a headache and backache inducer. Experts say it increases the blood flow to your brain, which causes vascular changes that result in pain. Eating snacks and foods basically that don’t come from nature – you might want to steer away from those.
When we consume sugary pastries and plenty of bread, we can end up feeling really tired and heavy; keeping us from operating properly. By eating a lot of carbohydrates won’t necessarily cause you to get diabetes. But when you eat too many calories, whether it is from carbohydrates or other foods; it is possible to get diabetes. When a person eats, their blood glucose rises and insulin is then secreted by the pancreas. You could become insulin resistant.
Don’t let your relationship get toxic
Like in the human sector, relationships can turn sour and ugly, and this can happen in your relationship with food too. We all rely on food, sometimes as a comfort to us when we are having a hectic and stressful day, and often we will just ingest food to control what we are feeling inside. Such a relationship with food won’t work out well in the end. When you put unhealthy toxic food into your body, you strain the relationship, and it will show up later in how you behave and feel – irritability, being bloated, nausea and tiredness. All this can reflect through your skin and your eyes. Sometimes people like to ‘vent’ by going to the cinema and scoffing popcorn and sweets – their form of escapism. It is often that our bodies and minds were conditioned when we were children; that going to the theater or the beach meant ice-cream, sweets, chips, the good times. Now doing those things, if they are not available, we have food cravings, which often can turn into a real binge on over-unhealthy, over-priced snacks to make us feel better. Not only are you damaging your relationship with food, but your pocket as well. Save your pocket and your health by next time taking your own snacks such as almond macaroons or homemade Florentines. When it’s done like this, then a trip to the movies or the beach does not become a place to stuff-your-face, but to rather take in and enjoy what you chose to see at the cinema – a movie.
How do you emotionally eat – what are the symptoms?
- You eat when you have emotional triggers and not true hunger.
- You eat more even when you are full.
- You eat out of automatic habit as if you are on autopilot.
- You do multitasking whilst eating instead of taking note of what you eat and enjoying the cooking and eating experience.
- You often snack on foods, skipping meals where you sit down and actually take your time to eat.
- You ignore your real hunger signals, skipping breakfast because you “didn’t have time” or “forgot” to eat
- You don’t consider sizes of portions; you just eat everything on your plate just because it is there, sometimes eating in a trance. When you are finished eating, you hardly are aware that you even ate.
- You believe you don’t even really have control over your own body and what you eat.
- You get stressed about your choices of foods, then rely on fad diets or “in” things and other people to help you determine what to eat and how much.
Choose rather to eat mindfully
On the other side of the coin though, you can choose to build on your relationship with food; put the good stuff in so that you can get good positive results back. You can do this – with mindful eating. Mindful eating doesn’t happen overnight though, find out about it here – it will inspire you to make the change. You will discover all about the benefits of how you can prepare your food mindfully, carefully weighing up what foods will benefit your mind and soul, restoring your body’s energy and feelings of well-being.
When you feel tired and energy-less, instead of a milkshake, opt for a natural green juice and you will feel the difference very soon afterward. A relationship will only work effectively when both sides give their full co-operation. If you take time to consider what goes into your body, you will end up with a happier, healthier, more contented relationship – with food.
Mindful eating is not to be sniffed at
Mindful eating and breaking the vicious cycle that you have been drawn into by your mindset can certainly change your relationship with food. Sometimes people, because they know they are going to the gym later, allow themselves a quick bar of chocolate for some energy. That’s not mindful eating. Mindful eating is paying attention; not mindlessly feeding your mouth in an almost unconscious fashion. Mindless eating is not even being aware of what precisely you are eating, what it taste likes, looks like and feels like as it enters your mouth.
You might not have realized it before, but your relationship with food is massive, encompassing many aspects of your life. It is your attitude to food and your body that has the possibility of withholding the potential of preventing medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and more from happening. It is not being persuaded by social media advertisements persuading you to succumb to deliciously advertised fast food meals at half price for the week; to enable you to “get through a stressful week”.
There is no question about it; a good relationship with food takes perseverance and time. We have to stop all the fads and fancifuls that catch our eyes so easily and persuade ourselves to start building and strengthening a healthy relationship with food. You will get your rewards – you will see the results on your face, in your body, and in your emotions. Practice mindful eating and you will have a zest and vibrancy in your step – it really is a worthwhile investment!
No more dieting with mindful eating
Mindful eating, also, is not a diet – it’s actually just the opposite. It is not about what foods you eat but changing the way you eat. It is being disciplined over your food choices and preferences, not even necessarily about losing weight which is a side benefit of mindful eating in any case. It has control over your mind. In fact, mindful eating has been used many times to treat all kinds of eating disorders and issues; all from your inability to lose weight and even to binge eating. Just consider all the unhealthy ways there are of losing weight. Mindful eating is being aware of the food entering into your stomach and having a real pleasure from eating that specific food, experiencing each savory bite from the start to the end. With mindful eating, you even start understanding your own eating habits because you start recognizing your thought patterns, your moods, your hunger levels, and cravings, etc. And all these have an effect on your emotions and your appetite. With mindful eating, you are now the one in control of your health.
Look at the benefits of mindful eating
- You have better control over your weight because when you stop stressful and emotional overeating, you start to improve on your eating habits and your weight almost balances itself. Trying to lose weight rapidly in unhealthy ways makes you lose track of signs that your body is really full or hungry. Ignoring your body’s signals can cause you to fluctuate continually in your weight and become ill.
- You stop stressing about food. Stress can really sabotage your fitness and dieting goals. Just by eliminating emotional eating will impact on your health and weight to a huge extent because the vicious cycle is stopped in its tracks. It is being aware of stressful eating habits, learning to respond to them rather than reacting to them. You are in control of your decisions. By being more aware of how stress can impact you, you stop the automatic behavior that makes you indulge, which leads to feeling ashamed, which leads to feeling even more stressed.
- You get more satisfaction from eating. Mindful eating locks you into pleasure in your eating without getting out of control – the more you attend to your eating, you will find that you actually need less food.
- You don’t need to ever diet when you eat mindfully. Mindful eating can certainly help you to lose weight but with mindful eating, the real focus is on giving your body what it needs, nutrients to function properly which will make you feel good. When you don’t overeat or under-eat, you settle down to a healthy weight without the need to follow diets. Fad dieting doesn’t usually work in the long term because it doesn’t teach you about managing your preferences and your emotions. With mindful eating, you don’t cut out different food groups and you don’t starve. Now you listen to your body and avoid listening to advice from external sources.
- It enables you to manage your health better. There are some studies in mindful eating that claim it can help you to better manage a disease like diabetes, eating disorders, digestive issues, and others. All of these require certain dietary changes and planning. In 2013, the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics in their journal noted significant improvements in weight loss, quality of diet and better glycemic control in patients with diabetes. This was after undergoing mindfulness training. Those with diabetes were much more aware of what they were eating, the reason why they were eating and the benefits derived from eating. In other words, they were more attuned to their habits. To prevent the onset of diseases such as obesity, type II diabetes, stroke, heart disease and some cancers, it is important to note how nutrients in a diet interact with and affect how our body functions – this according to the Nutrition Society, which is Europe’s largest organization in nutrition. A dynamic approach to prevention, assessment, and treatment of chronic diseases is functional medicine through the use of excellent nutrition.
How to know you are practicing mindful eating
- You are aware of how you are eating, why and how much. You are aware of your body’s true hunger and satisfaction signals – you don’t overstuff yourself anymore.
- You only eat when you really experience physical hunger and you are open to eating various and different foods; not believing only a certain food will help satisfy your hunger.
- You relish the food you eat, tasting it, feeling it and savoring it, without stressing over it.
- You make good choices basing them on your hunger and what you currently love to eat, taking into account what to eat before you eat it because you want satisfaction from your meal.
- You take note of your different senses, you notice how you pick it up to enjoy it; you notice the delicious aroma before you chew it, savor it and swallow it.
- You deal with the emotional triggers effectively telling you to eat when you are not really hungry.
- You don’t feel guilty when you every now and then indulge in ‘wrong’ stuff – you don’t judge yourself for getting out of control.
- You have let go of critical thoughts that make you want to binge on food.
- When you have finished eating, you know how you feel, realizing which foods work for you so that you can adjust your choices when you want.
- You know you are in control of your choices of food and realize that emotional eating is the opposite of mindful eating.
Signs that you are experiencing natural physical hunger
- Your stomach will be rumbling for food.
- You are on low energy.
- You haven’t eaten in a long time.
- If you eat at regular intervals, your body is kind of telling you it’s time to eat again.
- You are really hungry if you want to eat something like broccoli instead of craving for something in particular, like a steak oozing with creamy mushroom sauce.
Tips to have a good relationship with food
- Consider food as your source of energy and nutrition and not a way to relieve stress or anxiety or to comfort yourself after or fill an empty void
- Don’t always look for the latest craze in diets. Rather make a habit of eating regular meals. Trying to cut calories and not eating can easily trigger off overeating making it even harder for you to recover.
- Try and eat a good breakfast each day too because a good and healthy morning meal can curb your hunger the whole day. A protein breakfast is a top nutrient when it comes to weight loss. When you add more proteins to your eating plan, you are helping to curb your hunger pangs. Proteins also boost your metabolism.
- For snacking, select healthy foods because then you get the nutrients. Healthy foods are veggies, fruit, and rich in protein foods.
- Keep the foods that you crave so much out of sight which means not stocking your pantry and fridge up with sugary and fatty foods. These types of food make it easy to start binging and most people do their binging in private.
- Get the support you need, making it smart to spend time with family and friends who also eat healthily. Don’t get into the habit of eating alone because that might mean binge eating again. Avoid the people who comment negatively about your weight and the way you eat.
- Manage your stress healthily. It certainly is not an easy thing to simply say avoid stress but you can practice healthy ways to relax. People binge to feel less stressed. That’s in the short term. But in the long term, exercising and medication, getting involved and busy with other activities or soothing friends can help with the urge to overeat. There are psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapist who are experts in eating disorders, as well as dietitians and nutritionists that are there to help you get on the right track. Therapy will be able to teach you as well how to replace negative thoughts with more realistic and positive ones. Look for a support group too if you feel that is what you need.
So, are you ready to get started with a healthy relationship with food?
There are many dietitians and nutritionists who will explain to you when to eat and what to eat but there are not many who will explain to you how to eat and why you should be eating good foods. It’s because the food is simply much more than fuel for the body. We all have an emotional connection to food, a bonding type experience that needs to stay healthy for the sake of our minds and bodies. Remember to trust nature and pick the foods in your life that maybe your grandmother would have recognized. Today’s grocery stores are packed to capacity with packaged, processed and frozen products – but you, try to stick to the things that grow from the land, otherwise, it is best to avoid it. Learn to respect your relationship with food enough to sit at a table and chair and eat, enjoying the company of others who also love good food and good conversations to keep you positive and motivated.
Learning to have an excellent relationship with food helps you to relish and appreciate every bite you take, encouraging your senses to experience all the different textures and shapes, boosting your life with good health, satisfaction, and a clear mind – then you can really say bon appetit to that!