Food for Thought Friday: Eat What You Love
The phrase “healthy eating” may call to mind thoughts of rice cakes and tofu burgers. A restrictive diet sounds like exactly what it is—deprivation and avoidance of cravings. That kind of thinking can lead to the rebound effect of overeating the foods you were trying to limit.
So hearing that you can and should eat what you love may sound like an oxymoron. You might think that without healthy eating rules, you’ll load up on fatty, sugar-laden, high calorie junk food. However, if you eat mindfully, the exact opposite is true.
There’s a small (but growing) body of research that suggests a slower, more thoughtful way of eating might help with weight issues. It can also help steer you away from processed food and other less healthy choices. Known as “mindful eating,” this approach involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at any given moment.
When applied to eating, mindfulness means taking note of the flavors, colors, smells, textures, and temperatures of your food; chewing slowly; eliminating distractions like texting or updating social media; and learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.
These strategies can help you eat more mindfully:
1. Set Your Intention
Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention. Think of the dietary changes you’re making as choices to help you feel your best.
2. Consider What Your Body Needs
As you decide what to eat, ask yourself these three questions:
- What do I want?
- What do I have?
- What do I need?
The question “What do I need?” is about acknowledging your health needs, including any medical issues, food allergies, your family history, and health goals.
3. Think of Nutrition Information as a Tool
Knowledge about the nutritional value of food is helpful for making decisions about what to eat, but it is not the only criteria.
4. Be Balanced
Don’t have an all-or-nothing attitude about your healthier diet. You should eat for nourishment as well as for enjoyment. In fact, regularly including the kinds of food that you love makes overeating due to running out of willpower less likely. As a result, your choices are likely to be more balanced.
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