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9 Ways to Build a Healthier Relationship with Food
Where do you start? Pay attention to how you feel when you eat. Remember, this is what food is for: to maintain life. Food should stimulate and energize you. Do you feel alive after a meal, or do you feel bloated and heavy? Does your mouth get dry or your breath stink? Do some things make you sleepy? Reactions such as these can be signs of a food intolerance or food allergy.
If you think you don't have food allergies, see what happens after you've started to clean out the clutter in your body and replace it with proper food and exercise. By eating healthfully, you will enhance your body's ability to raise flags at certain foods. Pay attention to those alerts. Your body can convey extremely valuable information if you listen.
Your body's chain reaction is significant in terms of overeating and weight gain. The immune response in an allergic reaction can be a catalyst to food cravings, and the chemical response itself inhibits your ability to process fat. Ask yourself what you crave. It's usually exactly the thing you shouldn't be eating, the food you have an allergy to. Try steering clear of it for a while, and the craving for it will probably go away. One typical example of this is being "addicted" to bread (and probably reacting to refined flour) or candy (reacting to refined sugar). As soon as they wean themselves off bread or candy, people don't crave them anymore.
Your overeating triggers may be chemical and/or emotional, and by avoiding them, you can improve the state of your body, mind and spirit.
We don't live in a world that supports a purely whole-foods lifestyle. We don't always have time to make sure there's a fresh, balanced meal in the fridge. But there are many practical tools and choices that can help you reconnect with simplicity and shed pounds, too.
Listen to your body. Trust your instincts; they are intended for your survival and health. If you come from generations of overweight people, think outside that box. Notice which foods make you feel satisfied and give you energy and which foods make you feel tired, bloated or sluggish.
Take time to chew your food. Chewing stimulates digestive juices that help your body absorb food for fuel. Rushing induces cortisol release and insulin resistance, and increases food sensitivities and cravings.
Make friends with healthy fat. It satiates you and makes your skin look healthier. Go for olive oil, salmon, avocado, fresh nuts and real (full-fat) yogurt, in small portions.
Eat your poultry, meat or fish grilled, broiled or baked. In restaurants, choose dishes that follow the vegetable/whole grain/fish, poultry or meat model.
Keep fresh-frozen vegetables on hand. They have higher nutritional value than canned and make a quick complement to a meal.
Drink plenty of fresh water. If it becomes boring, flavor it with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Avoid sodas — even diet soda, which often contains aspartame, a substance shown to slow the body's ability to lose weight. Also, excess soda in place of more nutritious liquids has been linked to osteoporosis.
As a healthy substitute for sugar, use stevia, an herb that can be found in most natural-foods stores. It has no aftertaste and has been shown to help regulate blood sugar.
Make changes in your diet consciously, and don't go cold turkey. Cutting out everything all at once will only cause you to feel deprived, which often leads to bingeing.
Keep expectations realistic. You don't have to become a subsistence farmer of organic fruits and vegetables. Just thinking about food as something that comes from nature to fuel and nourish your body will engender a healthy change in your choices and help you get real joy out of food again.