Health Habits: Food Waste

This is the time of year that we should enjoy celebrating or spending time with family and friends.  It is also the time of year that disrupts progress with health or fitness-related goals. Those goals are usually set aside or put on the back burner until it is time to make New Year Resolutions.  We do this because the temptation Is too great and the stress and anxiety is too much to handle. 

The real problem here is not about the food. Our attitude about food is the problem.  Many spend the entire year counting calories, carbohydrates, or points.  We track everything we eat or try to limit portions and foods to control our weight.  When we try to be so “good” we create a feeling of restriction and deprivation that our bodies think we are starving.  The holidays roll around bringing temptation about, causing people to feel out of control.  Goals are cast aside to give in to delicious morsels only to end up feeling over-full or stuffed.  

Give your body the credit it deserves, its smarter than you think.  Dieting is a form of forced starvation for our bodies which are wired for survival.   When you tell yourself  that you cannot have particular foods, you’re more than likely to overeat those foods when you have access to them.  It is the deprivation that leads to the cravings.  The more you are exposed to a food, the less your brain desires to consume it.  The trigger foods that you keep away for fear of overconsumption will continue to trigger the uncontrollable desire to eat once you have access.  When the brain is exposed to a food frequently, the reward value decreases.  

To combat the swings of behavior change during the holidays we can shift our mindset about food.  Instead of adopting a restrictive eating pattern at the start of January try to shift the focus towards eating whole foods that satisfy those hunger cues.  This means to remove the word diet from your vocabulary and remove yourself from anything that promises “quick and easy” weight loss.  Instead of allowing diet culture to put us to shame about what we eat, we can choose foods that we know will satisfy us.  If we want a piece of chocolate with our chicken and rice pilaf, we should go ahead and eat one. With mindful eating; paying attention to what we eat, why we are eating it and how we feel, we learn to slow our speed of eating.  It takes at least 20 minutes for the brain to receive the fullness signal.  Be present during your meal , enjoy the flavors eat bite offers and see how much less you’ll eat with being mindful.

By adopting a mindful and positive attitude about food, the holidays would be easier to manage and the focus will be where it belongs -- on family and friends. Reject the diet culture, nourish your body with the foods you know your body needs and allow yourself to indulge.  You’ll find that by giving yourself the permission to eat what you’d like when you crave it, the uncontrollable urges which lead to overeating will subside.  Your body will tell you what it needs when you’re present in the eating experience. 

This week’s health habit: Reject the diet mindset and nourish the body and soul. 


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