National Nutrition Month is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during March, focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits to help build a strong relationship with food. This year’s theme is “To increase the public’s awareness of the importance of good nutrition and position registered dietitian nutritionists as the authorities in nutrition.” Part of living a healthy lifestyle is learning how to adopt a healthy relationship with food. Food is a means to nourish the body so you can do live a long, healthy life and use your body daily. Food is also a means to bring people together in social situations such as family dinners, holiday gatherings, and friends’ birthdays. However many individuals struggle with their relationship with food and use food as a way to suppress their emotions, deal with stress and also use food as a way to control their bodies when they have lost control in other aspects of their life.
Practice mindful eating and developing a strong relationship with food
Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full. Eating because you are bored, sad, or stressed is not mindful eating and lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Sit down and take time to eat your food rather than eating in a rush. Take the time to appreciate what is on the plate by looking, tasting, and smelling what you are eating which also allows time for your body to decide when you are full. Although many adopt the “three meals a day” regimen, if you find yourself only hungry for breakfast and dinner then that is okay. Maybe you need to eat five smaller meals throughout the day or two big meals, instead of three big meals. Within time, you will learn what your body is most happy with.
It is not the food that is good or bad, but rather our experience with food that leaves us with these feelings. Putting labels on food as “good” or “bad” or “healthy” or “unhealthy” can lead to a dangerous relationship with food. Eat a variety of foods and learn which ones make your body feel good. Just like life, food is all about balance so eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is just as important as indulging in your favorite dessert or chocolate bar. Instead of feeling like you have to eat a certain way or you cannot eat the things you love choose to eat for nourishment.
Don’t keep tempting foods in the house
If you find yourself eating an entire bag of snacks, an entire tub of ice cream or if there are certain foods where you engage in binging and just “cannot put the bag or container down” then do not keep them in your home. If you cannot practice self-control for certain types of foods in your home, then be mindful and only eat them when you go out as this is in itself, a way of healthy self-control.
Understand the difference between a snack and a treat
A snack is something that can nourish your body between meals. Snacks can be eaten throughout the day whereas treats can be viewed as a reward or an occasional “snack.” Snack choices are crucial when it comes to keeping you full and nourished. When choosing a snack turn to thing such as:
- Nut Butter Packets
- In-Shell Pistachios
- Hard-Boiled Egg
- Greek Yogurt
- Protein Bars
Don’t let food interfere with your daily life
The key to living a healthy lifestyle is adopting a balance. If you are too rigid, restrictive or strict about nutritious eating, you could be setting yourself up to fail. Enjoying food and viewing it as a way to nourish your body is a sustainable way to adopt a healthy relationship with food. In terms of social gatherings and activities, eating food should not be the way we measure involvement in an activity. It is important to remind yourself that you are not there for the food, but you are there to have a good time, socialize, and make memories