In a nation whose obesity epidemic has garnered a lot of media attention, it comes as no surprise that the diet industry has taken hold of a lot of us. From magazines to TV shows, weight loss and diets that promise dramatic results are at the forefront of our daily lives. If you’re among the 70 percent of Americans who are overweight or the 80 percent of adults under 36 who claim they could be healthier, internalizing some of the discourse surrounding food may be hard to escape.
Worrying about what we consume or not consume may be important in many aspects but, taken to the extreme, it can easily damage our relationship with food and take a toll on our mental health. Did you know that past surveys indicate that up to 75 percent of women have issues with eating disorders or disordered eating?
This is a serious issue that affects more of us than we’d care to admit, which is why — whether you’ve been plant-based for a while or not — we’ve rounded up some simple tips to help you cultivate a healthier mindset when it comes to food and weight loss.
Note that these tips are not meant to replace the advice of a licensed professional. If you, or someone close to you, is suffering from unhealthy thoughts and behaviors surrounding food, please seek appropriate help.
1. Focus on Food Choices, Not Food Rules
Have you tried cutting sugar for thirty days, going oil-free, or going gluten-free (without celiac disease)? These trendy diet tweaks may seem relatively harmless but their all or nothing nature can set you up with long-lasting food fears.
When it comes to eating healthier and taking care of our bodies, being overly strict with ourselves puts us in a negative mindset which is far from the self-love attitude most of us seek.
In that regard, focusing on all the nourishing foods we can choose to feed ourselves with instead of all the ones we might be saying no to, is the way to go.
After all, saying yes is a lot more fun than saying no.
Reflect on your past diet habits and see if you’ve been doing yourself a disservice by being overtly negative.
2. Keep A Food Journal
You may be familiar with food journals as a common tool used by dieters to keep track of their meals and calories but what we’re suggesting here is a wholly different take — one that has actually little to do with what’s on your plate!
As you may be aware, our choices to eat or not eat certain things are dictated by many variables — hunger, appetitiveness, and most importantly; our mood and emotions. Exploring via writing this relationship between our mental state and the food we end up ingesting or avoiding can bring to light — if not break — a vicious cycle.
Overeating, under-eating, food guilt, and other issues attached to dieting are complex and deserve to be looked at as the possible manifestation of deeper problems.
Putting pen to paper, not your thing? Simply taking a few minutes to assess your current emotional state prior to and following meals can help you find some clarity regarding your motivation for engaging in healthy or unhealthy behaviors.
3. Ditch the Scale
“Health is not a number”. You’ve likely heard this phrase on multiple occasions but it’s important to emphasize as it’s easier said than done for most people.
Although our relationship with this measuring tool borders on hate more than love, ditching it is no easy feat. As a chronic dieter, the scale provides a meaningful way to gauge “success” or lack thereof.
When it comes to focusing on our true health, knowing where we stand is a lot more elusive. If you’re used to counting on specific measures, moving away from the scale is scary.
It is however primordial, as relying on a number can give rise to highly obsessive tendencies.
It may take time getting used to but, relying on other cues such as energy level, sleep quality, skin appearance, mood, and motivation, to evaluate your feeling of health will benefit you in the long run.
4. Learn About Nutrition
One of the common tenets of the diet world is the divide between “good food” and “bad food”. Arbitrary or not, this unnuanced vision about what we can or “cannot” eat leads us to forget that food is a lot more than something that gives us or keeps us from the body shape we desire.
In order to get out of the diet mentality, re-framing this all-or-nothing view about food into something positive is necessary. That’s when learning about what’s actually found in greens, chia seeds, or pizza and burgers comes into play. We’re not talking about calories but nutrients.
Afraid of fats? Learn more about their essential role in our body (hormone balance, brain functions, and more!) Concerned about carbs? Find out more about how they fuel our brain and balance our mood!
In a nutshell, seeing food for what it is — nourishment and energy provider — is a good way to move away from devilizing or worshiping certain foods over others.
Baked Marinated Tofu With Vegetables/One Green Planet
Out of the many things sacrificed when stuck on a merry-go-round of dieting, and perhaps the hardest one to handle is the enjoyment of food. Humans are essentially programmed to be drawn to palatable foods and this fact is not easily embraced for fear of going overboard.
While there’s some truth behind the concern, taking the time to appreciate the smell, flavor, and texture of the food we like is an important part of cultivating healthy eating habits. Whenever you sit down to eat, slow down your pace and try to capture what you like about what’s on your plate. Be your own food critic, if that helps!
Searching for delicious recipes to enjoy? We’ve got you covered from breakfast to dessert!
Time for lunch? Try out this Green Thai Curry Rice Bowl, this Tofu and Coconut Bacon Caesar Sub, or these Buckwheat Spinach Crepes With Mushrooms, Pesto and Tahini. You won’t be disappointed.
Ready to indulge your sweet tooth to nourish your soul? We suggest giving these Sweet Potato and Plantain Truffles, these No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Walnut Brownies, these Mixed Berry Jam Filled Cupcakes, and these 5 Ingredient Mini Vanilla Almond Cookies a go.
6. Focus on Holistic Health
When it comes to health, food is often the center of our focus. Obviously, what we eat ensures our bodies have the fuel they need to perform the many metabolic activities required to stay alive and thrive. However, other components such as exercise, low-stress levels, and social adjustment are just as important in determining the state of our health.
When you start looking at your health in a holistic manner — as a concept in which mental, social, and physical well-being are interconnected — your diet becomes only one part of your daily habits.
Putting your focus on new activities, whether it be a sport, a meditation practice, volunteering — you name it — will bring your health to a higher level and likely change your outlook on food for the better.
There are no quick fixes in changing unhealthy eating habits but with time, patience, and adequate help (if needed), it’s possible to thrive.
Want healthy recipes as well as tips and tricks to help you do that on a plant-based diet? Download the Food Monster App. With over 10,000 recipes, it’s available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. Full of allergy-friendly recipes, subscribers gain access to new recipes every day.
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