Nutrition is just as important as exercise when it comes to your overall health and wellness. You’ve probably heard people say that “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet,” or the theory that diet accounts for 80% of weight loss results. Our relationship with food is one of the longest and most meaningful we’ll have in our life, so why do we so often neglect or misunderstand how to properly nourish our bodies?
Examining your eating habits and adopting a balanced approach to nutrition is a huge step in your path to wellness. Here are 5 tips to help you start building a healthy relationship with food:
1. Recognize an Unhealthy Diet
The Internet is full of supposedly “healthy” meal plans, but many of these diets aren’t the miracle cure they advertise themselves to be.
Are they promising rapid and easy weight loss, even without exercise? Do they require that you completely strip out a certain nutrient or food group from your diet? Are they selling you dietary supplements branded as metabolism boosters or fat burners?
Look out for red flags of trendy or elimination diets before you commit to changing your eating habits.
2. Identify Your Triggers
Your relationship with food may begin on a physiological level, providing your body with necessary nutrients and energy, but it also extends deep into your psyche. Humans have a profound emotional connection with food, influencing our feelings of safety, social belonging, and even self-control.
Even fitness enthusiasts can take a healthy diet to the extreme through compulsive exercise or an obsession with clean-eating. Beyond nourishment, it’s important to understand what the motivations are behind your desire to eat. If you can pinpoint the why, it will become much easier for you to identify unhealthy triggers and learn to adopt healthier responses.
3. Stop Labeling Certain Foods
A common fault of fad diets is that they label certain nutrients or food groups as being inherently “bad.” Completely eliminating indulgences like pizza, cookies, or ice cream (yum) may seem like a positive step towards a healthy lifestyle, but it can actually have the opposite effect.
Labeling something as forbidden can actually transform it into a coveted item that you crave—and if you slip, you may find yourself falling into a shame spiral that tells you that eating “bad” foods makes you a bad person.
There is no objectively “good” or “bad” food, so free yourself from these labels! Giving yourself permission to occasionally indulge in the food you love can not only be wonderfully freeing, but can also give you the positive reinforcement you need to stick to a wholesome, balanced diet.
4. Set Yourself Up for Success
Research suggests that your tastebuds can adapt to food through repeated exposure, so by continually satisfying your cravings with wholesome options, your body can eventually associate those foods with fulfillment.
This takes a bit of patience, but try making a habit of stocking your fridge and pantry with nutrient-rich snacks. You may find yourself beginning to prefer these healthier alternatives!
5. Think Long-Term
The most important (and most difficult) change is to shift your expectations from instantaneous results to slower, longer-lasting improvements. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Remember that the goal is not to shed pounds at any cost, but to nourish your body so that it can serve a stronger, healthier you.
The fit52 philosophy is all about balance, so the best approach is to find a slow and steady path to the best version of yourself—and along the way, it’s very likely you’ll reach your physical goals as well!
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