We all have heard that for healthy life we must learn to eat right. But what does learning to eat precisely mean? We are in a modern diet culture where we are in between food war; where we have put a label on different food and food groups as good and bad. Good food is usually promoted as fat-free, gluten-free, and high in fiber, whereas bad is promoted high in carbs and added sugar and we have been through many more of such labels. Marketing experts have manipulated us into that fats and carbs are enemies. Which has led us to a diet culture where eating well became a social obligation, a new trend that everyone should follow to be accepted, and how thinness is the only key to becoming healthy. We are in constant battle with ourselves regarding our eating habits what is normal, acceptable, and healthy as per the new diet trends, and new fads constantly coming.
Throughout my fitness journey, I have had conflicts about what I should eat and what I must avoid, but that only made me realize that there is no good or bad food. The best thing I have learned is we cannot always follow the rules, we must learn to follow our instincts and be flexible, our body is brilliant, and knows what is needed and best suited for her. Because health is not thinness or having a perfect body size. Health is beyond size and perfect figure. Health includes many aspects including mental health. Modern dieting has caused such immense pressure on mental health that missing one supposed healthy meal leads to guilt, regret, and anxiety about not having enough willpower to stick to the diet. This is further followed by self-loathing and hours of cardio(There is More to Exercise Than Burning Calories.) to compensate for the meal. Believe it lack of willpower is not the reason for lack of control over food. Restricting food is the main cause of binge eating. You must learn from your dietary habits what is best suitable for you, and sustainable in long run.
For that, you might have to unlearn certain things.
1.) Do not label food as good or bad.
Labeling food as good and bad has created the mindset of black and white thinking. Eating pizza one day won’t make you unhealthy or unworthy of health. The pizza might give you a sense of satisfaction of having your favorite food without shame or guilt, which will make your journey even more enjoyable.
2.) Stop restricting food.
Restricting food will cause a Binge-eating pattern. Foods that we restrict sneak up on us in an unusual manner, this causes overeating eating, we eat them way past our hunger and fullness. What happens is when we finally get to eat the food we have been restricted for long; we create a scarcity mindset and gulp down a
significant quantity, with fear of not getting enough. Instead of having 2 slices of pizza you end up gulping down the entire pizza. We lose our control over food,
causing us to question our willpower; which is followed by the feeling of failure.
This further will cause a binge-eating cycle. Why? Because after a huge meal, out of guilt you again go on a strict diet regime, canceling out all your favorite foods as punishment and later binging on them because of the restricting cycle.
3.) Have a balanced meal.
Stop avoiding food groups, each food group has an essential function in our body.Food works as fuel for us. Restricting them will increase your carving. Diet culture has made carbs our biggest enemy; they preach following a low-carb diet. But we must understand carb is essential for our brain to function, our brain functions on glucose, carbs are rich in fiber, gives satiety, and obviously, they are delicious making our meal even more palatable.(Learn How To Customize Your Meal Plan.)
4.) Practice mindful eating.
This is the most interesting concept to me, why you must wonder. Our body has an amazing network through which millions of signals and messages are sent to our brain to perform every task we do. Have you ever wondered how with just hearing about the food, or smelling food we start salivating? Why do we feel nausea or have butterflies in stomach after certain news? It is caused due to our gut-mind connection because our brain has a direct connection with our stomach and intestine. Our gut has millions of microbes that plays important role in managing our overall health, from building immunity, to sending signals to our brain. It takes approximately 20 minutes for our gut to send the signal to our brain that our stomach is full; again we are so busy with life that we don’t even take 20 minutes to finish our meal, we gulp our meal within 10-15 minutes. At times, we are so busy checking our e-mail that we don’t even notice the quantity of food we ate, how it smelled, or have it tasted, we just eat the entire plate way beyond our fullness. To understand our fullness we must learn to give our complete attention to our food, chew food properly, savor each bite. Let the body do the job of sending signals to the brain.
In a nutshell, stop thinking of food as a reward and punishment; we reward ourselves with a treat when we achieve our goal, and punish ourselves when we are
not able to follow the restrictive pattern, further leading to restrictions. You need to understand that food is about nourishing your body and soul; make your overall health a priority, includes your mental, physical and emotional health.