At Heart In Motion, we talk a lot about both food and relationship with food. We talk about thought processes, cravings, patterns, and metabolism and strategies that we can use to make change in all of these areas. Today, we really wanted to to talk a little bit about what is right. A lot of us spend time trying to “fix” the things about ourselves that are not working well for us, but we spend less time celebrating the things that are going well. Take a look through this article to see where you fall. I bet you will find that you are further along than you think.
- Eating mindfully: Eating mindfully can take so many different forms. From occasionally sitting down with a measured amount of your favorite snack food to planning your meals, eating mindfully is simply an expression of being aware of the choices you are making BEFORE you have made them. Mindfulness about food is also engaging our senses regarding food and making conscious decisions without judgment.
- Practicing moderation: Moderation is not only a behavior pattern, but a mentality. Moderation doesn’t always have to mean that you indulge in ice cream weekly but really is more about engaging in a lifestyle that shies away from extremes in both behavior and thought patterns. Practicing maintenance mentality while in the process of weight loss is critical to long term success in the process. Practicing moderation also means resisting the urge to react extremely to “breaking your food rules.”
- Knowing Feel V/S Fuel: People who have a healthy relationship with food tend to eat based on physical hunger rather than psychological hunger. Physical hunger comes on gradually, while psychological hunger tends to come on almost instantaneously. Psychological hunger can also be something that someone ruminates on for a period of time while debating “should I / shouldn’t I.” Learning to eat what your body both needs and wants is a key element to a healthy relationship with food.
- Understanding and Listening to Fullness Cues: Those who learn to listen (and obey) the body’s cues for fullness have an easier time with the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. Learning to stop when you are 80% full without unearthing thoughts of deprivation is a great strategy that can lead to better long term success. If you employ this strategy, always give yourself permission to have more later if you decide you are still hungry. This strategy can be great in helping people to slow down and understand they don’t need nearly as much as they might have thought.
- Having Proactive Strategies: When people naturally have a healthy relationship with food, they tend to employ strategies that set them up for success (whether conscious or unconscious). Behaviors like consistently eating breakfast, not making a regular habit out of Starbucks milkshake drinks, taking food with you in the car, packing leftovers for lunch instead of going out are just a few habits of naturally healthy eaters. Being proactive is key for setting yourself up for a lifestyle that is easy to maintain and is less of a fight.
- Knowing the difference between a treat and a snack: A treat is something that is for pure enjoyment. A snack is something that helps you get from one meal to another. Confusing the two is often something that gets chronic dieters into trouble.
- Treats are not psychological: Different than both #2 and #6, this refers to the “why” we make food choices. Those who have a healthy relationship with food understand that treats can be a fun part of life and attach no psychological meaning to them. Treats involve no shame, guilt, or self condemnation.
- Eating is not to manipulate the scale: Chronic dieters tend to eat differently based on what the number on the scale says and starve or overeat accordingly based on the psychological effect that the number has on them. Healthy eaters recognize the number on the scale as just an indicator of weight which yes, should be monitored periodically in order to make any necessary changes, but does not involve extreme emotional reactions and the resulting extreme food reactions. It is important to keep an eye on all health numbers like weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc, but they are not numbers to get obsessed on to the point that you are thinking about them daily.
These are just a few of the differences that I see in my practice of those who naturally maintain a healthy weight v/s those who engage in a lifelong struggle.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Take a look at the list above. See if there are some areas that you feel like you have made some progress, and maybe some areas that you feel like still need improvement. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe today is the day to look at possibly making one new change.