We need food to survive and regardless of what Kate Moss famously said, there are a hell of a lot of things that taste better than skinny feels: Pizza. Mac and Cheese. Burritos. Lasagne. Sushi. Chocolate. I mean, the list really can go on forever. And the amazing thing about food is the endless creativity which takes things that are already delicious (for example, a cheeseburger) and makes them even more delicious simply by adding ingredients (like a bacon cheeseburger). This article is not an attack on food, but rather the negative relationship that sometimes comes with food.
Food can in fact sometimes be like a toxic relationship—we can gauge our self-worth on it, we can hide aspects of it from others, and we can obsess over it until it makes us sick. According to ANAD, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, eating disorders effect 9% of the worldwide population. That’s approximately 630 million people struggling in their relationship to food every single day. These people have been failed by a society that is obsessed with diets both for weight loss or gain. We are more than the food we consume. We are more than a number on a scale.
Here are three healthy ways you can improve your eating habits:
- Mindfulness—The CDC suggests reflecting on your eating habits, because that’s exactly what eating can easily become—just habit. By practicing mindfulness, you are retraining your brain to eat when you are hungry and to feed your body with what it needs, not just what is easiest to consume. Food is a necessity for survival. It is fuel for the incredible organic machine that is the human body. When a car runs out of gas you fill it up, but you don’t overflow the gas tank, you don’t restrict it in the hopes that the car will become more streamlined, and you don’t get angry at it for needing to refuel. Consciously consume in order to give your body exactly what it needs.
- Cook for Yourself—“The more you cook, the healthier you live,” asserts Harvard Medical School. Going out to eat or ordering food in isn’t a bad thing. Having someone else cook for you is a relaxing and indulgent experience. However, when you cook for yourself at home it has been found that less calories are consumed, and culinary creativity is inspired by individual taste. Cooking for yourself is an intimate act of self-love because it is cooking with a purpose—finding a recipe, making it your own, and enjoying the finished product. Like mindful eating, cooking slows down the process between hunger, desire, and consumption. You make better food decisions when you’re conscious of the food you are making for yourself. You deserve to enjoy (and to know) what is going into your body.
- Customise—I like to work out fasted—that means working out first thing in the morning before I have eaten anything. After embarking on my own workout journey, I found this was the best method for me. My boyfriend, on the other hand, hates working out first thing in the morning. He would rather work out on his lunch break (around the time I want a nap). He is tall and thin and has a high metabolism. I am short and curvy and pretty sure my metabolism is about as active as a cat lying in the sun. The point is that we are not the same, so why would we have the same relationship with food? I eat smaller portions than him. I work out for longer than him, but less frequently than he does. I lift weights. He does cardio. He loves things smothered in gravy, I prefer a couple shakes of hot sauce. You are perfectly unique and therefore only you can know exactly how to manage your eating and health habits. Customise your experience with food. This is your relationship and it is worth every bite.
Do your research, embark on your health journey, and fall in love with the beautiful act of taking care of you.