Achieve a healthier lifestyle through Eat Smart. Be Well.
As a dietitian, I am constantly engaging in conversations with customers which shed light on their negative reactions to food. What do I mean? Have you ever said, “I’m not going to eat that ice cream cone?” Have you called yourself names after indulging in pizza? Or have you tried to justify for enjoying an indulgence saying something like, “I’ve been really good for a few days now, so it’s okay.”
All of these statements are damaging and promote negative energy within. By pushing yourself to not do certain things it becomes mentally draining. And who does it make happy? No one. By expressing these terms of resolve we think of them as positive praise. However, they are actually negatively affecting our overall relationship with food. It can create additional stress within our lives and who needs that? There are numerous studies that report an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, has been linked to increased weight around the midsection and may make you crave those not-so-healthy food choices.
Instead of surrounding your environment with these negative statements, try shifting your mindset to be more positive. Focus on the “cans” within your diet, instead of the “cannots.” You can have those fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Making a mental shift will allow you to feel liberated and not restricted.
With temptation all around us, be sure to prepare yourself for success. Being prepared will help you get through those situations where you are more likely to overindulge. Try planning your meals and snacks for the few days/week ahead. If you come prepared to work with a healthy lunch and snack, you can focus on enjoying that instead of falling into the temptation of an office potluck, for example.
Most importantly, listen to your body and its hunger cues. Know that it is okay to eat something if you feel hunger, rather than starving yourself until the next meal. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Enjoy your snacks and meals slowly and savor the flavor of each item on your plate. Learn to stop before you become stuffed and learn to fuel yourself properly when hungry. Stick to the 80% / 20% rule where you focus on incorporating wholesome, nutritious foods into your diet 80% (or more) of the time while still allowing yourself to indulge mindfully 20% of the time. This can lead to a more positive relationship with food where you can form a meaningful relationship with your body’s ultimate fuel.
Parents can help their children develop a positive relationship with food by following a few quick tips:
Children learn from role models. By eating together as a family you are setting a good example. September is Family Meals Month – Martin’s is encouraging you to commit to at least one more family meal at home each week.
Give your children the freedom to choose and reject foods as everyone has different tastes. For example, when preparing lunch ask your children, “Would you like to have an apple or a pear?”
Be clear that there are no forbidden foods, rather, foods that we enjoy occasionally. If you forbid certain foods, this may cause your child to want to eat them more frequently. Try non-food rewards for good behavior/actions, such as: stickers, play dates with friends, trip to the park/zoo, etc.
Get your child involved in making meals! Children of all ages can help make salads, stir or mix together ingredients and set the table. Children may be more excited to try something new if they help prepare it.
Don’t wait until the new year to get started! The fall is a great time to jumpstart any nutrition goals as many are falling back into a more routine schedule.
Martin’s Health and Wellness Advisor, Kristin St. Clair, RDN CD