Over the last 5-7 years I have accumulated many concepts, theories, ideas, and tips about having a healthy relationship with food. I have tried different techniques and my weight has fluctuated throughout these years. I spent about 6 months of this time practicing veganism, have loosely followed Weight Watchers, have made countless trips to many different health food stores all over the tri-state area, and have read hundreds of articles and books on this topic. Food is a big part of my life so I am thrilled to say that I think I have finally developed a healthy relationship with my diet.
I started to write a very detailed post about this and realized that I would need to publish my own book in order to fully explain everything in detail, so… I revamped my plan for the post and decided to share with you my 5 top concepts (along with brief details about each) and my favorite book about food! Many of this author’s beliefs run parallel to my beliefs on this topic, so I wanted to share this excellent source of reference with all my readers!
I am not claiming that these concepts are going to help you lose weight; they are merely theories that help me maintain my healthy relationship with food. They work for me so I wanted to share them with you…
Concept #1: Do the best you can with what you have
In my euphoria, I would have a Whole Foods Market down the street from my home and all the prices would be within my budget. I would walk through the store putting all the healthiest of foods into my cart from all the food groups! This is not reality for me…
My reality is that the closest Whole Foods Market is 1.25 hours away and I have a budget of $100-$125 per week to spend on groceries. Should I exceed that budget, other parts of balanced life are disturbed in ways I can’t afford so I have to do the best I can with what I have. I visit Shop Rite once per week with a planned schedule of meals. I look at all of the products on the shelves, in each section of the market, and choose the most “whole” product I can afford. (whole: least processed, least unnecessary ingredients, most organic) I use the dirty dozen rule for produce and to buy the products we consume most in their organic variety.
Everyone’s budget is different and some people will say “health is worth the extra money.” I have considered this when creating my budget and I agree that health is very important but balance has to rule over all in my world. Doing the best you can has to be enough.
Concept #2: Be real and honest with yourself
Eating highly processed, sugary candy is not a healthy choice but let’s be real…every time, for the rest of your life, when someone offers you a handful of M & M’s, you are not going to say “no.” If someone in the morning offers you a handful of M & M’s and you say “yes”, then later in the evening, when your neighbor brings over a huge slice of leftover birthday cake, you should at least consider putting it in a pyrex and sharing it with your husband the next day.
If you eat the M & M’s (or even the M & M’s AND the cake, because let’s be real, this stuff happens), don’t lie to yourself that this was healthy or that you didn’t eat them. Take responsibility for your decision and make your next decision based on what you have learned. Say to yourself, “tomorrow I will try to practice a little more discipline.”
Your relationship with food is just like any other relationship in your life, it is not perfect and honesty is a MUST. Apologize for small mistakes, try REALLY hard not to repeat the big mistakes (eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting), and continue in your relationship with no regrets.
Concept #3: Do not monitor what you eat on a holiday
On the day of the holiday, I think you should shove your face with whatever it is you want to shove it with. This is when the “life’s too short” philosophy comes into play. You can’t say “life’s too short” every day or you would be unhealthy but there are few enough holidays in the year that you should be able to fully indulge on those few days. I think that these are the happiest days of the whole year and on these days I don’t want to be in a fight with food; I want to be on great terms within my relationship with food on the holidays.
The hard part comes on the days surrounding the holiday… Examples: The day after Halloween, you can’t eat your kid’s candy all day and the day after Thanksgiving, the leftovers need to be portioned like you would portion on any normal day.
Concept #4: Cook and prepare food in your home as much as possible
Cooking is like playtime with food. It is your time to bond and be intimate. Not everyone likes cooking/prepping but it is crucial for a healthy food relationship. (see my subtle metaphor?) Cooking your own meals and packing your own lunches are the only ways to know exactly what you are eating. Cooking, to me, means preparing anything from a salad to a full course meal like Thanksgiving dinner. I consider rinsing the grapes in a colander and putting them into containers for the week a part of my food prep/cooking on Sunday’s when I get home from the market.
Baking is nice too, once in a while; if you make a batch of 24 cupcakes, you better eat at least one but share many. Bring some to your neighbors or to work.
Cooking dinner and eating in your home, as a family, is a good thing to do. Packing balanced lunches for your kids, your husband or wife, yourself, and other household members, is a good thing to do too. It will make you all healthy, happy, and proud thus enhancing all of your relationships with food.
Concept #5: Record your meals/servings
I like to use Weight Watcher’s PointsPlus system to keep from overeating or eating too much of the wrong type of foods.
*More info on WW: Basically, each food has a PointsPlus value that is calculated depending on the amount of protein, fat, carb, and fiber that is in the item. The higher the protein and fiber content, the lower the points but the higher the carb and fat content, the higher the points. You are not to avoid fat or carbs all together but your choices should reflect the concept of consuming each type of food in moderation. Depending on your size, you are designated a correlated points allowance. If you are specifically interested in this program I suggest you register for the minimum amount of time (online) and learn about the program/how you specifically fit into the program. You can always cancel your membership once you feel like you have obtained some knowledge and can move forward on your own. If staying in the program works for you, thats great too! You can utilize the techniques whether or not you are enrolled. WW TIP: You can Google “WW Points Plus calculator” right on your smartphone if you don’t have your WW calculator on hand.
I try to plan my day’s worth of points in the morning, leaving a few points in case of an unanticipated food offering or opportunity (like the M & M incident detailed above). I like to write down my meals, the approximate points, and the number of servings of each food group in the meal to keep a balance. I try to keep up with this, especially after I have a few days of getting “carried away” (a few days in a row of not using great discipline). *Exception: I don’t record on holidays.
If you are uninterested in using Weight Watchers that is okay too; WW is just my preference. Whatever you come up with to help you with self control and portion control will do the same for you as this concept does for me.
And now, onto my favorite food book…drum roll please…
Food Rules by Michael Pollan
The link above is to Michael Pollan’s website. If you are interested in his point of view, you should read some of the articles on this site too. This book is an incredible reference for when you are feeling frustrated with all the food buzz on the news and in the media. It helps you get back to basics! He actually just came out with a cookbook too. To purchase “Food Rules”, click here and to purchase his new cookbook called “Cooked”, click here.
Yay, I am so excited to have this all in writing for you!! Please comment with any questions or thoughts and try some of my recipes!