Having a healthy relationship with food…

healthy relationship with food front

Developing a healthy relationship with food.

It seems a little obscure that as individuals we all have some sort of a relationship with food; it’s not a person or a being that we interact with but for some the relationship we form with food can be one of the most powerful and influential relationships they form throughout their life time.

With around two thirds of the adult population in Australia sitting in a classification of overweight or obese and the rise of eating disorders effecting between 4 – 9 % of the population, that’s around 1 million Australians, it is vital that promoting healthy relationships with food is a priority to the government and society as a whole. Internet trolls sat at behind their computers need to be deemed powerless and more to the point self-worth and self-love shouldn’t be something people are ashamed to admit too. Health needs to be the priority, nourishing your body, taking exercise and enjoying your life as fully as possible!

So why is our relationship with food so influential on our life? Before we go any further let us be clear nutrition is not about a weight, a size or a shape. It’s about optimising your health; both physiologically and drinkspsychologically. There are several angles we could answer this question from, however most simply put food is the foundation of what gives us fuel, nutrients and ultimately underpins our health. When we refer to health it’s not about sitting at a certain size or weight it’s about maintaining our key metabolic functions within a normal range; to name just a few it’s keeping our blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels at normal/healthy levels, ensuring we have a good level of basic fitness so we can maintain functional movement and perform essential daily tasks with ease. If an individual is categorised as underweight or overweight they increase their risk of developing compromised vital functions holding more visceral fat (fat around the organs in one’s central cavity aka the mid-section); however it should also be noted that health looks different on everybody so taking a specific weight or size is an extremely superficial way to measure health as a whole.

For some individuals food can become much more than this it can become an emotional crutch or something to help us feel like we are restoring control, it can be something we associate happier times with or in some case food can be something we fear; long term this can lead to under or over eating which both bring to the party two sets of very unique challenges. Having a healthy relationship with food helps us not only maintain our nourishment but also the sustainability of our body mass.

We get asked hundreds upon hundreds of questions each week regarding nutrition and a lot of them seem to centre around ‘rules’. Truth be told there are no rules, there is no magic formula; every single one of us is completely unique – what we know will work for one individual can be the completely incorrect approach for another. A prime example is that we get asked is how many meals should I be eating a day, 3 or 6? There isn’t an answer that will work for everyone and honestly it really it doesn’t actually matter. The considerations we would want to make regarding the regularity of your eating is that you are maintaining your blood sugar levels throughout the day and how you can do so to fit into your lifestyle; this will come from you strategize what works best.

Another question we face is people asking us what are ‘good foods’ and what are ‘bad foods’. Quite simply put there are no single good or bad foods. This sense of classifying foods is very restrictive and in creating foods that are almost forbidden, often, people are almost opening up a worm hole of over indulgence when around ‘naughty’ foods. veggie bowlLife is about moderation, so having just a big bowl of veggies is not a healthy way of living somewhere along the line you will be missing out on key nutrients such as fats and proteins. At the end of the day there really are no bad foods, only bad diets. So if you have a chocolate bar once a week that’s very different to eating a diet rich in junk food daily; but only eating ‘healthy’ or ‘good’ foods can be detrimental to ones psyche.

Despite the fact that food shouldn’t be seen as ‘good or ‘bad’ sadly a common trend we are seeing  develop more and more amongst fitness lovers is somewhat of an obsession to only obtain foods from ‘clean’ sources. Whilst its super important to obtain the correct nutrients daily from quality nutritional sources. In some cases this obsessive need to obtain foods that are as biologically (associated with the condition known as orthorexia) pure as possible can lead to serious dietary restriction and obsessive macro tracking; for example nutritious foods like tomatoes or capsicums may be cut out of an individual’s diet because they are relatively higher in carbohydrate and sugar comparatively to other foods in their division; it’s never good to restrict or become obsessive with obtaining only ‘clean foods’ however unfortunately it may effect up to 7% of the population!

Conversely, sometimes we will be asked ‘how can I stop over eating’. Whilst we can’t wave a magic wand to ensure you are portioning your food correctly we can give you the tools to help recognise how much you should be eating at meals in terms of ensuring your plate is balanced with sufficient carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Be mindful of how you are eating, take it slowly and listen to your body’s cues. Are you really hungry, do you really want to eat something. Keep a check on your emotions if you know you over eat then think about why maybe even record how you feel when you’re reaching for snacks after dinner; identify if there’s a common thread are you sad angry bored?

The last question we find we are being asked abundantly is as to whether we should be obsessively counting calories or macros each day.  Simply put, long term, tracking every morsel that enters your moth is unsustainable and we would not advise making tracking calories or macros becomes something that you feel compelled to do! Eating should be flexible and you need to ensure you are getting a balanced approach to your meal time; we see time and time again people almost fearingyumm the inclusion of carbohydrate; and no food group should be feared especially the one that’s supposed to be our primary source of energy! Moreover unfortunately this kind of diet relate
d behaviour can, in some cases, contribute to developing poor relationships with food. Whilst it’s important that we obtain the correct nutrients we need from foods and that we don’t overindulge in food ultimately eating should be an experience we enjoy it shouldn’t just be something we do because we have to.

As adults its fundamental that we try to get a grasp on this in order to ensure that we are promoting healthy habits to not only our peers but also our family and our children. It has long been established that behaviour is learned and behaviour around food is no different. If an adult is actively restricting foods and their mood is being determined by their weekly weigh in the long term this behaviour may become ‘normal’ in that house hold. Similarly eating junk food and failure to partake in exercise can have the same impact. In order to help promote healthy relationships at home we should be seeking to ensure that:

  1. Healthy food is available quite readily; have fruit bowls or veggies sticks in the fridge as snacks and home cook your meals from real ingredients; fresh cuts of meat, quality dairy produce and locally sourced veggies.
  2. Eat a balanced and varied diet
  3. Don’t portray feelings of guilt when having the occasional treat
  4. Eat as a family; sit at a dinner table make meal times enjoyable and a clear event.
  5. Don’t use food as a reward; with yourself or children. Find other ways such as perhaps a day out a new item of clothing.
  6. Install that a person’s value or self-worth should not be determined by their, size, weight or the food choices they make.

When it comes to eating, as we have previously stated, let us reiterate that nutrition is not about how much you weigh or what dress size you take; food is fuel and in nutrition and yes we want people to optimise the quality of the fuel consumed but this should not be at the expense of food freedom or enjoyment. Aim to eat a health and balanced diet, rich in all macro nutrients and all essential micronutrients to ensure you are optimising your health.  Let’s all work together to promote a health, balanced approach to eating to ourselves and those around us! WOOOHOOO!

 
 
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