Making smart, sensible choices about what we put in our bodies is important when trying to maintain or improve our health. However, it's equally as important that we don't let the desire to maintain a healthy weight keep us from having a healthy relationship with food. For some, healthy eating is something that just comes naturally, but for others it is a learned behavior that takes practice.
No type of food is “off limits”. With a positive relationship with food, there really aren’t “good foods” and “bad foods”. Instead, take each food on a case-by-case basis and believe that all foods can be enjoyed in moderation. Devouring a plate of chili cheese fries every day is far from healthy, of course, but you should be able to enjoy one with friends once in a while without obsessing over how many calories you’re consuming.
Understand the value of timing. Having a healthy relationship with food means understanding when to indulge as well. As a mindful eater, save higher calorie indulgences for times when you're not ravenously hungry. As a result, you consume a lot less of the food than you otherwise would. This also allows you to simply enjoy the experience that comes along with eating a favorite treat. Also remember that food should nourish the soul to the same extent it nourishes the body.
Let your body tell you when it's time to eat. Many people who overeat wind up doing so in response to emotional arousal in an attempt to make themselves feel better. Others eat because they're bored or because everyone else around them has chosen that exact time for a snack. Those that enjoy a healthy relationship with food have learned to listen to their bodies, and will only eat when they're physically hungry. They also have learned to recognize the signs of comfortable fullness and choose to stop eating at that point.
A treat and a snack are two different things. Depriving the body of nourishment to the point where it's ravenously hungry is one of the easiest ways to wind up overeating. That said, mindful eaters understand the value of snacking to stave off hunger in between meals if necessary. However, remember to make healthy, modest choices in regards to snacks. A slice of cheese or a few roasted almonds makes an excellent snack while a cookie or a square of chocolate should be considered a treat, consumed only for the sake of enjoyment.
Don't skip breakfast. It's a proven fact that eating breakfast is linked to a wealth of health benefits including higher energy levels, lower cholesterol levels and improved memory function. Those that eat at least a modest breakfast every day also tend to be healthier overall than those that don't. Consuming breakfast provides the body with necessary fuel and nutrients first thing in the morning when needed most. And, as mentioned earlier, it’s important to make healthful choices to start your day right. Choose a balance of lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains instead of sugary alternatives like doughnuts or pastries.
It's OK to enjoy the act of eating. Eating is one of life's great pleasures, and it's not only normal to enjoy it, but healthy as well. People that enjoy a healthy relationship with food don't rush through mealtimes or view food as an enemy to be conquered. Mealtime is an opportunity to slow down for a moment and truly take a break from life. It also gives you ample time to consume your meal instead of wolfing it down quickly to rush from appointment to appointment. Meals are important and they ought to be treated as such.
Don't let worries about weight or calorie intake take over their life. Balance is key to remaining healthy on all levels. Understand where the boundary is between discipline and disordered thinking. For instance, it's fantastic and even recommended to schedule regular workout days to make sure you stay fit and trim. However, you shouldn't be turning down important opportunities to meet up with a family member who's in town for the weekend or failing to get enough sleep in favor of spending more time at the gym.
Developing a healthy, balanced relationship with the foods you eat isn't just a good idea when it comes to staying healthy and happy. It's actually an essential part of not only meeting your health goals, but maintaining them as well.