spartan117sj

Ways to build a healthier relationship with food?

16 posts in this topic

Hello to all!

I'm new to the forums, but I have followed YBC for a little over a year. (Thank you Candace for inspiring me to practice more regularly! :) )

To the heart of things. For many years, I have had a poor relationship with food, and have struggled to find balance in my eating habits and mindset. Although I have determined why I have this issue, I have not been able to figure out ways to go about changing it. Following mass-media was part of what got me into this mess, so I thought I would ask a group of people who might be more in tune with their bodies and minds to get back out!

At this point, I am eating foods that fuel and nourish my body (no processed stuff, wheat, added sugar,etc.), but also satisfy my taste buds. I do not skip meals and have good proportions of carbs, fat, and proteins.

So. What are your best tips/advice/opinions for establishing a more balanced, mindful way of approaching food? What works for you? 

Thanks ahead of time!

YogaByCandace and mimisouth like this

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Not sure how you define "unhealthy relationship", but one of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone is...

It's not hunger, it's thirst!

...90% of the time, when we feel hungry (famished...I'm starving), that's actually the beginnings of dehydration.

When we were young, and came down for breakfast (after not consuming any water for 12 or more hours), a parent might say "are you hungry? let me fix you something!"...so we were trained that that feeling in our gut, that twisting, empty sensation, was hunger...and we ate, but since we didn't drink any water, we were still hungry, so we ate some more. Mostly carbohydrates (cereal, toast, pancakes, etc.) which have an addictive nature to them (ever try eating half a slice of pizza and stopping?)

To combat this, I repeat this in my head ...

It's not hunger, it's thirst!

...every time I go to the refrigerator. Instead of gorging on crap (is that okay to say in a family friendly forum?), I would grab one or two tall glasses of cold water...and magically, the hunger pang would go away.

 

My advice, if you want to try changing something...have two glasses of cold water and wait 15 minutes before eating anything (especially breakfast). During meals, alternate a sip of water between each bite of food. 

And remember...

It's not hunger, it's thirst!

 

Also, learn to listen to the body's signal when it's satiated. Most eat food because it's there. Before every bite, say to yourself "am I really hungry, or am I eating because there's something in front of me?" Take a bite, wait, then think, do I want more or shall I save it for later.  Play a game in your mind...if you're eating with other people, try to be the last one to finish. Also set a goal of NEVER finishing everything on your plate. No matter what you're eating, always leave a little behind...that visual will be a reward for you. It's the empty unnecessary calories that you didn't consume (think of it as adding five minutes to your exercise routine!)

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Recently I ran across a discussion on the potential benefits of reducing carbohydrates,...

The point Larry made about thirst is also interesting.

October 12, 2013, I was 256

I decided to give up my favorite foods (oatmeal, cereal, bagels, bread, pizza, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.)...also I significantly increased my hydration (as described above). I ate veggies and fruit, hardboiled eggs, cheese, sliced turkey, chicken etc. I didn't worry about dietary fats, I only paid attention to carbs.

Carbs are trigger food...they set off a chemical reaction in the brain that makes you want more. Ever eat broccoli? A few small pieces and your done. Now try that with a bowl of pasta, a wrap or a warm bagel

...and the weight started to slide off

June 2014 I hit 186 (I'm 6'3") 

That's 70 pounds (or 27% of my weight)

 

It worked for me

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 1.14.10 PM.jpg

Edited by LarryD517

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...by the way, once you break the "carb addiction" (which usually takes a week), you really don't want them at all.

So, if you try this route...go cold turkey for one week, tough it out and you'll be home free

YogaByCandace likes this

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I used to rush through my meals but recently have tried to develop a more mindful approach to reduce stress levels. So before eating, I'll just take a second to feel grateful for the work that went into growing the food I'm about to eat, and then with each bite I try to taste each food in the meal, if that makes sense. This has produced a really calming, enjoyable way to eat. 

mimisouth and CoffeeAndYoga like this

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I try to only keep healthy food at home. That way, if I'm tempted to eat, say, a pastry, I'd have to go out and buy one. Nine times out of them sloth beats gluttony, which really works for me.

That aside, I don't worry too much about my food as I'm pretty happy with my heath and body at the moment. I eat mostly unprocessed food - traditional dishes with lots of fresh vegetables, legumes and so on. I'm not really interested on cutting carbs, partly because as I said I'm happy where I am with my body, partly because I'm mostly vegetarian and if I got rid of carbs I'd have very little to eat left.

I try to fully enjoy the dish in front of me each time, making sure it's full of flavour and colour.

YogaByCandace likes this

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October 12, 2013, I was 256

I decided to give up my favorite foods (oatmeal, cereal, bagels, bread, pizza, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.)...also I significantly increased my hydration (as described above). I ate veggies and fruit, hardboiled eggs, cheese, sliced turkey, chicken etc. I didn't worry about dietary fats, I only paid attention to carbs.

Carbs are trigger food...they set off a chemical reaction in the brain that makes you want more. Ever eat broccoli? A few small pieces and your done. Now try that with a bowl of pasta, a wrap or a warm bagel

...and the weight started to slide off

June 2014 I hit 186 (I'm 6'3") 

That's 70 pounds (or 27% of my weight)

 

It worked for me

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 1.14.10 PM.jpg

Great job Larry! I also try to avoid processed foods and eat less carbs. 

 

In in regards to the original post, I have a tendency to eat out of boredom. To keep this from throwing me off track on my weight loss I try to keep healthy snacks around. Even a handful of raw almonds makes a big difference. 

mimisouth likes this

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try using a food tracker. There are a ton of apps and websites that offer these tools. I used webmd 

you record every item you eat.  Trust me, after a couple of days, the shame of having to enter the garbage and wasted calories creates a powerful disincentive. I used it for a few months and found self reporting key to curbing the excesses

imagine if you had a blog with a few hundred followers and you wrote "today I ate three twinkles"...it'd never happen 

adopt that mindset

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What an inspiring thread and thanks for all the great tips!! I too eat out of boredom! I'm always in a rush so eat quickly.  My daughter said to me the other day "mommy your fastest eater in the world, after uncle Dave that it"!! It's true I eat very quickly barely tasting my food.

Well done Larry for sharing your photos that not an easy thing to do..

I'm definitely going to try some of the tips here...

Edited by mimisouth

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Well done Larry for sharing your photos that not an easy thing to do...

Trust me, when you have before and afters that look like that...it's very easy to do!

There are other things to think about... (please note, this is all my philosophy, there is no medical basis for anything here, so take this with a grain of salt and adjust your habits according to what works best for you)

  1. When you smell a rose, you take it to your nose, you give it a sniff, you enjoy it and you move on. We don't sniff and sniff and sniff repeatedly for ten minutes. If we did, eventually, the excitement of the scent is gone and you probably would have lost the ability to detect the essence. Right? Why is food any different? We don't eat 'Death By Chocolate' for the nutritional value...we eat if for the taste. The first morsel is spectacular, right? The next is good, but think about the last few bites...does it really taste spectacular...or are you bored by the taste and just eating it because...well, we really don't have any good reason to finish it, do we? At this point, we're no longer tasting the food, we're just shoveling it in...why? Because it's there! At dessert (or any other non-nutritional food consumption), why not think of the rose...take a taste of the cake, the smaller the better (see #2) and savor it, don't swallow too quickly, but enjoy the taste (much like essence of the rose). Then move on. Have a sip of water or tea, push the plate away and engage in some other activity. No one can taste the last ten spoonfuls of a bowl of ice cream. It's the same with wine, the first sip is spectacular, but the third glass is just a liquid.
  2. You only taste food with the tip of your tongue. The back of the tongue, the side and roof of the mouth don't have taste buds. The portion of the tongue that can taste is the size of a postage stamp. In addition, the tongue can only taste food that is right on the tongue, so you if you put in a large piece of cake or spoonful of ice cream, only the portion of the food resting on the postage stamp sized portion of the tongue is doing the tasting. So what becomes of the food not adjacent to the taste buds? Well it gets smushed around, thrown back in the throat, then on to the stomach and then it finds its way to the hips, thighs or anywhere else you really don't want it to go. (LOL). Seriously, the extra food in each bite, the food not allowed to meet the taste bud are being ingested without being tasted. So, if it presents little or no nutritional value ... and we're not tasting it ... and, as discussed above, even if we did taste it, unless it was bite #1 or bite #2 it wasn't really enjoyed...so ask yourself...why am I taking such a large bite? When I go out, if there's a piece of chocolate cake on the table, I take fork and slice off a razor thin piece (like a McDonald's tomato slice...LOL). I place it on the tip of my tongue and savor it. I notice others gouging on massive pieces and laugh to myself.
  3. When you do downward dog, do you 'just do it' or do you focus on your fingers, your knuckles, your arms, shoulders, rib cage, head and neck, torso, hips, knees, ankles and the balls of your feet...oh yeah, you focus on your breathing, too, right? When you eat, why not employ the same discipline? Instead of getting into 'shovel mode', try focusing (much like you do in yoga) on every aspect of the experience. Focus on the food, is it the right food for the next twenty years...or the next twenty seconds? Make better choices! Arm yourself with a list of foods that you know you need and others that you merely think you want. Each forkful ask yourself a question...why am I taking this next bite? Do I really need it or am I just 'cleaning the plate because kids are starving in _____ (fill in the country your mother told you...for me, it was China)
  4. When you eat, imagine you were on trial. You are standing before a judge, jury and your friends and family. The attorney asked you "why did you eat that bag of Cheetos?" What do you say? Can you say anything to defend your action. That's why food trackers are so powerful. You have to document and review your...poor decisions. Much like the new craze (wearable fitness trackers) encourage users to stick to a discipline, so will the food tracker. Try it!
  5. Understand the addictive nature of carbohydrates. Avoiding something is easier than trying to stop. Choose foods low in carbs...better...without carbs! Cheese, eggs, etc. (visit Atkins.com for ideas)
  6. When dining, look around the table and watch how the others eat. Watch the shovel eater, the ones that can't put the utensil down. Looks attractive, no? (doubtful). Try this routine...
    1. Take a sip of water
    2. Count to ten
    3. Enjoy a small forkful of spoonful of food (half your normal sized portion...see #2 above)
    4. Put utensil down
    5. Count to ten 
    6. Take a sip of water
    7. Think about what you just ate. Taste it. Feel it go down your throat (Ujjaya eating...LOL...okay, I made that up). Feel it enter your belly. Look around the room, pay attention to any flowers, plants or artwork. Notice the beauty. Think of something other than food. Think about your last (or next) yoga practice. Think of how good it feels when you finish a killer pose. Think of something that made you happy. Think of someone who makes you happy. Think of anything other than food. 

      I used to rush through my meals but recently have tried to develop a more mindful approach to reduce stress levels. So before eating, I'll just take a second to feel grateful for the work that went into growing the food I'm about to eat, and then with each bite I try to taste each food in the meal, if that makes sense. This has produced a really calming, enjoyable way to eat. 

    8. Take a sip of water
    9. Ask yourself...am I still hungry? If so, go to step 1, if not go to step 10
    10. Grab saran wrap or Tupperware (or if out, ask for a doggy bag) and put the leftover food in the fridge
    11. In savasana you are asked to focus on how you feel...so focus on how good it felt to not binge. 

I could go on...but the point is...your most powerful weapon is your mind. Use it to make wise choices. Know that nothing is impossible (if you're not convinced, look at my before and after photos above).

Namaste

MaddieTwo and mimisouth like this

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I think the key to a healthy relationship with food is to still be able to enjoy food, and the key to that, like others have suggested, is portion control - done by eating slowly or drinking more water, etc. My high school friend went through anorexia without me or her friends knowing (only had suspicions) because she was "just losing weight and looking good".  Many years later, she is at a normal, healthy weight. She went through a no eating game phase, but recently changed back to omnivore. I see that she genuinely enjoys eating food during meals and packs it to go if it's too much food - that to me is a healthy relationship with food.

Meanwhile, the restrictions people stated above are helpful and beneficial, but, I would restrict in baby steps or eating might not be fun anymore.  Here are some academic / journalistic sources to support what others have already said in this thread:

Honestly, I fell asleep during the sugar lecture, but, I got the main idea and believe it's one of the easiest things to do (certainly easier for me than giving up carbs).  We limited desserts and junk food as "treats" or only indulged while on vacation. We cut out 2/3s of the sugar in recipes, or just eliminate it completely. The most non-intuitive learning for me was how destructive fruit juice can be, even when all natural, because juicing removes all the skin and natural fiber that makes one feel full and stop drinking too much juice.  Anyway, ever since restricting sugar, my total cholesterol and LDL have gone down significantly when it was steadily increasing the years before (important to me because I have a family history of heart disease).

 

Hildegard likes this

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As someone who had a very unhealthy relationship with food (disordered eating), a part of what I learned in therapy is that often part of our unhealthy relationship with food stems from an unhealthy relationship in life. We overeat (or undereat) because we're stressed from a relationship whether it's with our mom, dad, friend, coworker, etc. When you start to evaluate why you have this unhealthy relationship and you work on it, this is when you can work on your relationship with food.

Every person is different in how they will be able to "fix" an unhealthy relationship with food. For me, it came from working on finding the root on why I made food an enemy, why I started putting food into "good" and "bad" groups, why I skipped whole days without eating. What was I trying to gain? What was the root problem? What was going on in my mind that I wasn't thinking about?

I'm not the healthiest eater, I admit it. I don't eat a lot of fruits or vegetables because being Autistic presents special challenges. Since I've recovered and stayed in recovery from my disordered eating, I've been back into trying to try new fruits, veggies, and dishes. I eat very organic and simple ingredient foods because of my Lupus. Trader Joes is a lifeline for me for meat, bread and things are simple. But I also allow myself "cheat foods" because I wouldn't be happy without cookies, crackers, cupcakes and my daily Dr. Pepper (or two or three. I'm a caffeine addict.) I drink lots of water and milk to even out my soda. 

Enjoy every bite you eat. If you don't, then there's a tangle in your web somewhere. You need to comb it out.

 

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Thanks for sharing your perspective. It's so hard to look into yourself, so I'm glad you were able to do so, successfully!  I'm happy to hear that you allow yourself "cheat foods" as a treat but don't unnecessarily punish yourself for it.

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I've learned that living with regrets or punishing myself about food is counterproductive. My favorite cheat food is Ode to the Classic Potato Chip from Trader Joes. I have no idea why these chips are so much better than Lay's Potato Chips, but they are so good! (Why are they so good? Is it because it's only three ingredients?) Cheez-its are kind of the ultimate junk food of all. I love salty over sweet!

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I would start by cooking some of my own meals. If you already do that, try making your meals using complimentary colored food, or/and spices. Or even just try to get one thing of every color and make something out of all of it.

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