Saturday, January 31, 2015

Food - It's Complicated

As Valentine's Day approaches, I reflect on the relationships in my life. Relationships can all be complicated. Consider your experiences with family, friends, dates and especially yourself. Realize how each has evolved and will continue to change.

Among the ever-growing relationships is your intricate connections with food. One's relationship with food can often be negative through self and societal pressure to be thin, gain muscle, lose fat, eat healthy or manage disease; the list can be never ending. Thoughts towards food can change throughout your lifetime depending on social gatherings, holidays, culture, emotions and physical activity. Your ability to eat also depends on your state of health.

Emotions, social settings or going prolonged periods of time without eating may lead to overconsumption.
  • Try mindful eating. When eating slowly, you give your body time to recognize when you are full.
  • Turn technology off when eating to increase awareness for portion sizes and satiety.
  • Divide out a portion size if snacking while performing another task.
  • Be mindful of alcohol consumption as your inhibitions may be released and lead to overeating.
Busy schedule or skipping meals
A busy schedule can trick your body into not feeling hungry or you "forget to eat." Skipping meals can be related to your busy schedule, your plan to indulge when eating out or an attempt towards weight loss. This can lead to weight gain by slowing your metabolism, overeating at your next meal and selecting unhealthy food items. 
  • Consider planning and preparing several meals on one day to save yourself additional time at the end of a busy day.
  • Write a grocery list to save time while shopping.
  • Carry snacks or bring a smoothie to get you through a packed schedule
  • Keeping a regular meal or snack schedule will help provide you energy to fuel your day.
Fad diets
Foods are marketed towards any diet (organic, gluten-free, sugar-free, low fat, vegan, lactose-free and any other latest diet trend). We can get mixed up in the labels and lose sight of the "why" and nutrient content.
  • Select a meal plan that is best for you.
  • If you are planning a diet change, consider contacting your personal doctor or a dietitian to discuss a diet that is appropriate for you.
  • Certain fad diets can be missing essential nutrients; proper planning will be needed to meet your nutritional needs.
  • Consider the quality of the product labeled for a specific food trend and if it fits within your overall goals.
Disordered eating
At times, regret and guilt following a binge on undesirable food choices or over consumption may lead to purging. Negative health consequences can include but are not limited to impacting your digestion, detention and chemical imbalances related to organ function.
  • Recognize disordered eating patterns and potential triggers. 
  • Focus on health beyond weight.
  • Be kind to yourself. Think about what your body and mind can do as well as what makes you happy.
  • If you struggle with your relationship with food, reach out to your healthcare provider for assistance to find a multidiscipline and individual approach that works for you.
Switch the mindset of foods potentially being harmful and think about the benefits of nutrition. Food is life. Choose foods that soothe the mind, body and soul. To enjoy your foods, try chewing mindfully to slowly consume your meal. Look at your food, hear it cooking, smell it, feel it then taste it. Release your stress and negative attitudes towards food. Try not to focus on what you "shouldn't eat," but consider moderation and balance of your meals and beverages.

Overall, respect your body and try to provide nourishment to function and support your life. Love your body. Love yourself. Love your relationship with food.