7 Secrets to Building a Better Relationship with Food
1. Know Your Metabolism Each person has a unique metabolism that changes throughout his or her life. Although genetics does play a role, there are a number of eating habits that can cause your metabolism to increase or decrease. It is important to establish a baseline so you know where you stand. There are several Basal Metabolic Calculators (BMR) out there which can provide a rough idea of what your resting metabolic rate should be based on your physiology. Your resting BMR is the baseline from which to measure. For example, if you’re eating below this number, chances are you are causing your metabolism to slow down.
2. Eat Enough. Watch out for the yo-yo eating cycle. Periods of under-eating (especially dropping below your BMR) are typically followed by overeating. Many people do this each day. The cycle looks something like this: skip breakfast, maybe grab coffee, a salad for lunch, then a huge dinner at night. Another common scenario is one of weeks or months of under-eating, until ultimately losing all willpower. The cravings become unbearable, resulting in the inevitable break down. This is when the gloves come off the and overeating begins. Both of these cycles result in slowing the metabolism which encourages the body to store more body-fat. Over time, it becomes more and more difficult to lose body-fat, let alone maintain a particular weight. These abusive methods of eating can also foster an obsession with food that can dominate your consciousness. The message here is to eat consistently (intervals and amounts) throughout the day.
3. Eat everything in moderation. Many fad diets suggest that you omit certain food groups or macronutrients. Whether it’s no fat, no salt, no sugar, no carbs or some other rule, the rigidity sets you up for failure on two fronts. First, the expectation of unreasonable dietary “perfection” is a recipe for failure. Over time, willpower breaks down, and a moment of weakness can turn into hours or even days of overindulging. I “treat” myself everyday. Whether it’s a bowl of ice cream, some french fries, or an occasional glass of wine, I have something indulgent each day and I feel fulfilled and not tempted to overindulge. The second front is the quest for perfection through total omission. There is a lack of realization that the omission of important nutrients and healthy fats can be damaging to the body. It’s important to have an understanding of the basics, and practice moderation.
4. Practice Consistent Meal Timing. Creating a consistent schedule for meals is more important than how many meals you eat per day. Find what works best for you and stick to it. You will notice that your body gets into a rhythm, and you will get hungry when it’s time to eat. When you find your rhythm, you won’t spend all day thinking about food and/or mindlessly snacking. Start your day with a good breakfast. Most people find that 3-5 meals per day work best. A meal should contain all 3 macronutrients (protein, carbs & fat). Understanding the correct portion sizes based on your metabolism can take a little experimenting. LINK: Check out FBF University to learn more about customizing your macronutrients.
5. Make changes consciously. When learning to improve your nutrition and eating habits, make sure your concerns don’t start to interfere with the enjoyment of life. Many diet programs lead people to isolate themselves to avoid food, or discussions about food. It’s important to learn how to eat out, go to social events, and cook in a way that helps you both meet your goals and enrich your life. We are talking about a lifestyle anchored with healthy habits, not a “diet.” Make small changes that are reasonable and turn them into habits before introducing more small changes. Go at your own pace.
6. Trust yourself. Many people have a strong fear of losing control. That fear can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy because it takes so much of your energy and directs it toward losing control. While you are building your self-trust, remove trigger foods from the house and your environment when possible. Once these foods lose their power over you, this won’t be necessary. You can start to reintroduce the foods you’ve feared on occasion, when you go out to eat, or in the alternative, buy snack size portions. When you are able to work these portions back into your daily intake guilt free, then you know you have reclaimed control. I did this with my favorite treat, kettle corn. I would have the junior size bag at the movies rather than having a large bag in the pantry. Once I realized I could be satisfied with the smaller portion, having it in the house was not an issue.
7. Be kind to yourself. Food is not evil and it’s okay to enjoy it. Food shaming is a big part of our psyche and society. Replace hurtful messages you tell yourself with positive messages stemming from a place of gratitude. Instead of “I failed myself for eating that cake at the Birthday party” say, “I’m glad I got to enjoy the cake at the party, and I’m happy that I know how to eat the rest of the day to allow room for that treat.” Make sure to have realistic expectations. Surround yourself with positive people who encourage and uplift you, and be careful to steer clear of the naysayers and sabotagers.