An unhealthy relationship with food can negatively impact many aspects of your life. When you eat poorly and don’t provide your body with the nutrition it needs, you may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, certain forms of cancers, heart disease, and other health problems. An unhealthy diet can even negatively affect your teeth, preventing you from improving your smile with braces or possibly making it difficult to enjoy certain foods.
A positive relationship with food and eating a healthy diet improves your mood and emotional well-being. Eating food that’s good for you can also lead to better oral health throughout your lifetime and greater longevity. Review the following tips to learn how to improve your relationship with food and increase your quality of life.
- Cook at Home
When you cook at home, you have control over the ingredients you use and your portion size. Cooking your meals at home can be a fun process that saves you money.
When you take the time to cook a meal for yourself and your family, you’re more likely to appreciate the hard work, time, dedication, and quality ingredients that went into the food. This appreciation encourages you to consume meals thoughtfully and continue creating healthy meals.
2. Don’t Obsess Over Numbers
While it’s important to ensure you’re not overeating, obsessing over the numbers on the scale or the number of calories you consume per day can backfire. When you keep a close watch on these numbers, it may make you feel too controlled, negatively impacting your relationship with food.
Gain an understanding of how much you should be eating and ensure you’re on the right track, but don’t measure out everything you eat. Enjoy your food without counting each calorie to maintain a positive association with healthy meals.
3. Don’t Punish Yourself
Depriving yourself of food as a punishment encourages an unhealthy relationship with nutrition. If you’re unhappy about eating something decadent or gaining a few pounds and you skip a meal or engage in vigorous exercise for hours to negate the action, you can do more harm than good.
Framing food as a way to nourish your body and mind is important to healthy eating. Eliminate the need to use food or exercise as a punishment and look at these activities as enjoyable and nurturing.
4. Make Small Changes
If you want to eat healthily, start with small changes to your diet. If you try to enforce too many big changes, you may feel overwhelmed and give up on creating a healthy relationship with food before you’ve even started.
Try replacing your nightly bowl of ice cream with fruit or start adding in a healthy breakfast to your day instead of just enjoying your coffee or tea in the morning.
Add a serving of vegetables to your dinner, be more mindful of portion sizes, and try to slow down when you eat your meals. By implementing these small changes and building on them over time, you’re more likely to create good sustainable habits centered around your diet.
5. Consider Health More Than Weight
It’s unhealthy to be fixated on your weight as opposed to your overall general health. When you’re obsessed with the number on the scale, you’re more likely to develop control issues over food.
Instead of focusing on the number, consider how your body feels when you eat healthily. If you provide your body with the right fuel, you’ll have increased energy and pride in your healthy food choices, which will provide you with the positive motivation you need to continue eating nutritious meals.
6. Don’t Do Fad Diets
When you rely on a fad diet to help change the way you eat, you’re not implementing a long-term solution for weight loss and health. For example, the keto diet focuses on eating high protein and no processed foods. While this is helpful for weight loss, the keto diet may increase your cholesterol intake, which increases your risk for heart problems and hypoglycemia.
Instead of hopping on a fad diet to lose a few quick pounds, make small changes to your lifestyle and relationship with food. Create a sustainable diet that you can enjoy and will stick with for years to come.
Exercising is part of a healthy routine that increases your energy and boosts your mood by increasing your brain’s serotonin levels. When you perform cardio exercise, such as biking or running, it raises your body’s temperature, which may contribute to a decrease in appetite. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply reap other benefits of exercise, it’s important to couple your cardio sessions with nutritional foods to maintain your health.
8. Create a Regular Schedule
When you create and follow a regular schedule, it also extends to your eating habits. Developing a morning routine that involves brushing your teeth, washing your face, and other important good hygiene habits will also help you stay on track with healthy eating.
When you get into a routine with your actions, you’re also likely to get into a routine with what you’re eating for each meal. Making healthy food choices becomes easier and less stressful if you stay on track with your daily schedule.
9. Develop Good Coping Methods for Stress
Stress may cause you to make poor food choices or overeat. High cortisol and insulin levels, as well as an increase in ghrelin (your hunger hormone), may contribute to cravings for fatty, salty, or sweet foods.
Avoid using food as a way to relieve your stress. Instead, focus on healthy stress coping activities, such as meditating, talking with friends, joining a support group, or exercising.
10. Seek Help If Your Eating Habits Are Toxic
If you can’t control your eating habits and they’ve become toxic to your health and life, you may have an eating disorder. Warning signs for an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, include an:
- Obsession with perfection or control.
- Emphasis on your appearance or weight.
- Impulsive need to eat during an intense situation or when experiencing certain emotions.
When you live with an eating disorder, it may have long-term negative effects on your health and well-being, including damage to your organs, teeth, and mental state. If you suspect you may have an eating disorder, seek professional treatment immediately to improve your health and avoid these long-term consequences.
Developing a healthy relationship with food makes other aspects of your life more rewarding. By following these tips, you’ll find easy ways to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs for a healthy physical and mental wellbeing.