Despite day to day variations in food selection and dietary limits, many individuals still struggle with emotional triggers that prevent a healthy nutritional lifestyle.
Given the state of our nation’s health, figures are drastically up a size or two, as many people’s day-to-day eating habits are in need of an intense workout. Life is fast-paced and automated, sitting down to enjoy a good meal has been traded in for speed-dial delivery and fast food stops. However, this type of existence has a price, as the numbers of obesity continue to climb so do diabetes and heart disease.
Healthy Eating Defined
For many, healthy eating is synonymous with dieting and losing weight. It is about:
- foods that do not taste good
- limiting the foods once enjoyed
- unfulfilled midnight cravings and hunger
- intense and unpleasant exercise regimen
- a mirror image of a person twice her healthy weight
This is not healthy eating.
Healthy Eating Redefined
Healthy eating is not a prison sentence where foods once enjoyed are locked away forever. It is about:
- eating foods the body needs to function optimally
- making a lifestyle choice
- not starting and stopping a variety of fad diets
- setting realistic goals for success
- tailoring the needs of the individual and not the needs of the weight loss group
It is about feeling good, looking good, and a commitment to stay that way.
Eating for the Body
The stomach is a muscular organ that can expand significantly to hold more food. To prevent overeating, the brain will trigger a sensation of feeling full. Sadly, many ignore the sensation until no sense of true hunger exists; even thirst feels like hunger. However, slower eating can give the brain a chance to catch up and trigger the sensation of fullness, and recapture true hunger cues.
Eating Patterns Revised – The Food Journal
Relearning to eat for the body can be made easier by establishing a food journal as part of the change program. The daily entries help pinpoint problem areas and emotional triggers, while organizing the day-to-day eating habits and food choices. Part of the journal might contain something like this, for example:
- time and place meal was eaten
- what was eaten and long it took to finish the meal
- note any disruptive or joyous feelings surrounding the meal
- what triggers hunger and how is that hunger satisfied
For many people, food is the center of all things good and bad. Food is used to reward, to comfort, to punish, and to replace deep feelings of emptiness. Learning to see food as a nutritional source rather than an emotional band-aid will reward many with a healthier self-image and even weight loss. It is staggering; just how much food is used as a replacement:
- for boredom
- for cigarette smoking
- to break other habits
- for love and affection
Enjoy Food Again
A major hurdle has been reached when a person can actually see food as a source of nutrition. That does not mean the food cannot be enjoyed. On the contrary, the ability to enjoy food is restored at the same time the body is shedding the unwanted pounds. Life takes on a completely new meaning when food imprisonment is realized; It then becomes a matter of moderation and not elimination. Imagine going to a food buffet and sampling just a little of everything? Or, alternatively, enjoying a slice of grandmother’s award winning apple pie, but doing so with just a half of a slice.
In closing, healthy eating is not about self-punishing or giving up the foods enjoyed. It is about achieving a new way of viewing food, and a lot about self-discovery. Congratulations, and here is to enjoying food again.