Do you have an unhealthy relationship with food? You and everybody else at this point. There are several reasons why humans love food too much these days. One is the increase in sugar consumption. Sugar stimulates the dopamine or rewards system of the brain, making it very addictive. Consuming processed sugar also causes sharp drops in blood sugar giving brain signals that we’re hungry when we aren’t. These signals are making us think about food constantly leading us to eat way more than we need. Ironically, dieting is the other reason we have developed an unhealthy relationship with food. Almost all adults have gone on an extreme diet at some point in their lives. That short-term deprivation increases your desire for food which is why you lose 10 pounds just to gain back 20. So, how do we stop our love for food?
First, start eating less. Stop snacking and only eat three times/day. It takes 6-8 hours to digest food which means even if you don’t want to lose weight you do not need to eat more than that. And common sense says that if you have any weight to lose, you can go much longer than that without eating and truly be just fine. If you have diabetes your recommendations will be different, but our goal is for you to change your habits BEFORE diabetes kicks in. It will take awhile for your body to get used to this, but if you choose the correct foods your blood sugar will be more stable than ever and your constant hunger will finally go away.
Second, focus on nutrition. Remember, before all these delicious processed foods we ate solely for nutrition. Vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit. These are really the only foods your body needs to be healthy. It’s not about your scale weight. It’s the fact that processed food has no real nutrition to it. We are eating more than ever but getting the least amount of nutrition ever! There’s a reason why your mom used to make you eat your vegetables before you got dessert. That’s the food our bodies were designed to eat so it’s just not an option.
Now we also need to add food in that will fill you up for the next 6-8 hours. That’s where the “macro counting” comes in. You need to make sure you get good fat, lean protein, and low sugar carbohydrates. If you eat a small amount of each, you’ll be amazed at how perfectly content you are. All of your sugar cravings disappear, your energy level will be higher than ever, and you’ll be the perfect amount of satisfied all the time. I promise feeling great is well worth giving up processed foods.
Third, plan and prepare your meals ahead of time. If you don’t get your food organized before hunger starts in, you will end up making a lot of bad food choices. The bottom line is: eating out will make you gain weight. There’s a reason why it tastes so much better. Restaurants put a lot of extra fat, sugar and calories into their meals, even the healthier ones. So it’s time to be an adult and cook your own food. If you’re like me and don’t have time during the week then designate your Sunday afternoons to meal prepping for the week. It is easier to do it all at once. Pick 2 or 3 meals for the week to cook and put individual servings into Tupperware. Then you can just grab and go. No excuses to eat out. If you don’t like the idea of eating the same thing throughout the week then you are guilty of loving food too much. Set yourself up for success and finally break your addiction to food.
The good news, if you start meal prepping and commit to eating healthy meals 90% of the time you will have some leeway for that other 10%. Remember, depriving yourself of food is one of the reasons we love food, so I do want you to have some cheats. Structure one or two meals a week where you can eat out. What I like about cheating at restaurants is the smaller serving size compared to if you buy an entire box of cookies or an entire gallon of ice cream. Moderation is very important in these cheats so don’t set yourself up for failure. Go to your favorite restaurant, order the food you want, even have dessert if you want. But never think you’ll have the discipline to buy a gallon of your favorite ice cream and NOT eat the entire thing. Instead, go to your favorite frozen yogurt shop and get a single serving and be done until next week. No excuses, no exceptions.
If you follow all of these guidelines, you will develop a healthy relationship with food. I know how hard it is these days to be disciplined. There’s yummy, processed food everywhere. But this food is wreaking havoc on our health. So don’t diet, just eat like an adult. Focus on 90% nutritious food and enjoy a few cheat meals a week. Only eat when you’re actually hungry, and only eat the food that will actually fill you up. Set yourself up for success by pre planning your meals and don’t make excuses. I promise people with better excuses than you have figured it out. But don’t do any of these things just to see your scale go down, do it because that’s what your body needs to be healthy and happy.