Building Healthy Relationships with Food

Co-written By: Alyssa Costantino

Nutrition is both an art and a science. The foods we eat influence our physical health, our mental health, our social and cultural health, and so much more! Food is energy, while it is also nourishment, comfort, culture, and tradition. Knowing what to eat, how much, and when can be confusing and overwhelming. On top of this, the media is often flooded with new diet fads and misinformation. Nevertheless, evidence based nutrition revolves around the simple concepts of eating natural, whole foods, variety, and balance.

Building healthy relationships with food and practicing intuitive eating are essential components of a healthy lifestyle!

Intuitive eating: the process of “trusting your body to make food choices that feel good for you, without judging yourself or the influence of diet culture”. While the foods that you’re choosing are important to be mindful of for many reasons, the stress that can come with tracking your intake, closely monitoring your foods, or following a restrictive diet have the potential to cause more harm than good.

The goal is to make healthy, balanced choices that become a sub-conscious instinct that forms your overall diet throughout the lifespan.

Your diet is:

  • The comprehensive combination of foods consumed habitually over the lifespan that nourish your body and mind while supporting your lifestyle.

A diet should NOT be:

  • A short term fad or trend
  • Restrictive
  • Unsustainable
  • Something to be “stuck to” or “cheated on”
  • Something that is causing you to miss out on your favorite foods, restaurants, or social events

Our Tips for Intuitive Eating!

  • Listen to your hunger and fullness cues!
    • Do not wait until you are famished to eat! This can often prevent us from choosing the best option.
      • Aim to eat something about every 3-4 hours or when you are about a 6-7 out of 10 on your personal hunger scale.
    • Stop eating when you are 80% full!
      • Leptin, the hormone regulating our fullness cue, takes time to kick in! This allows us time to digest and let our hormonal cues activate to avoid overeating.
  • Balance your meals and snacks
    • Balanced food options keep you feeling full and satisfied while meeting your nutrient needs!
      • For meals: fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate with whole grains, and a quarter of your plate with lean protein sources
      • For snacks: focus including each of the macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
        * hint- fruits and vegetables count as carbohydrates!
        • Example: pairing an apple with peanut butter and yogurt
        • Example: pairing carrot sticks with hummus and almonds
  • Enjoy the foods you love!
    • Practice the 80:20 or 90:10 rule!
      • If you love  sweets, baked goods, fried foods, whatever your vice may be, you should still enjoy them in moderation! This actually helps us create a healthier overall nutritional intake and stick to our goals long term!
      • The trick is to nourish your body with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins 80-90% of the time so that the majority of your dietary habits are filled with choices that support your health.
        • Examples:
          • Adding mixed greens to your table on pizza night
          • Adding a small bowl of nuts and fruit with your sweets

Building a healthy relationship with food takes time and practice.

Check out this Intuitive Eating Workbook for more guidance on your journey towards intuitive eating!

You’ve Got This!

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