Eating. It’s something we all do every day. It’s essential. We spend a good portion of each day preparing food, deciding on food for meals, shopping for food, and eating food. Unfortunately, this essential part of our lives is unenjoyable for many people. The modern world has established a culture that requires each bite of food to be analyzed for “good” and “bad” qualities. Calories must be counted. Portions must be measured. Eating has become so analytical that it is hard to enjoy it anymore!
So how do we start to enjoy eating again?
First – stop categorizing foods as “good foods” and “bad foods”. Give yourself permission to eat foods that you want to but maybe feel like you shouldn’t. It’s okay to enjoy foods that aren’t considered “healthy”. You’d be surprised that as you allow yourself to actually enjoy previously “forbidden” foods that you’ll stop craving them as much.
Second – Don’t say anything negative about eating – not about what you ate, what you want to eat, what you should eat, what your spouse eats, what your neighbor eats, etc. Encourage your family and friends to join you in this challenge. You’ll notice that eating becomes a lot more enjoyable when all the negative comments stop flowing around the table.
Third – stop dieting. What?? Did I really say that? Why yes I did. If anything destroys the ability to enjoy food it is starting a diet. Instead, work to establish one new healthy eating behavior at a time. Make this new behavior a lifestyle instead of a short-time change.
Here are five suggestions of healthy eating behaviors you can incorporate in your own life.
- Start buying fresh fruits and vegetables every time you go grocery shopping. Having these items in your home will encourage you to start cooking with them more and using them for snacks when you’re hungry.
- When eating a meal, wait a few minutes before getting a second helping to see if you are still hungry. If you feel satisfied, stop eating.
- Sit down for every meal instead of grabbing a bite to eat on the run. Stop working through lunch. Not only do you need the break, but it will decrease mindless eating as you make time to actually focus on what you’re eating.
- Drink lots of water. Carry a water bottle around with you and drink when you’re thirsty. If you start feeling hungry in between meals, take a sip of water and see if you still feel hungry or if you were recognizing your thirst as hunger.
- Take snacks with you to work. Many times we become so hungry in between meals, we overeat during meal time. If you have a nutritious snack (such as carrots or apple slices, nuts, whole wheat crackers, string cheese, etc.) in between meals you will feel better and eat better when it comes time for your meal.
Be happy about eating this week. Stop categorizing “good” and “bad” foods; stopspeaking negatively about eating; and stop dieting, instead establishing one new healthy eating behavior at a time. Most importantly, learn to enjoy eating again!