Hi there, thanks for stopping by my website and signing up for my tips on how to become a healthier and happier eater. I love food and it’s nutritional effects on the body – I want you to enjoy food too without any guilt or confusion!
Remember though, if you are wanting to free yourself from any emotional/comfort/boredom/binge eating habits, your relationship with food is greatly affected by how well you look after yourself – getting enough sleep, hydration, physical activity, FUN and reducing stress are all important pieces of your puzzle! Therefore my guide below includes aspects of a general healthy lifestyle.
This is a guide and not a set of rules. There are quite a few things to consider, so take what helps you now and come back to others at a later time if that helps. If there are few things you would like to work on, consider focusing on one small thing at a time – perhaps one a week or month and doing it regularly to lock in new habits.
1. Incorporate a variety of foods into your days and weeks from the different food groups. Consider whether you are eating the same things day after day and whether you would enjoy more variety. Increasing variety can mean increasing your chances of eating different nutrients, feeding different types of gut bacteria (which is a positive thing!) and reducing food boredom. Try eating a rainbow of food throughout the day. Could you put different fruits or vegetables into your shopping trolley each time? What about different breakfast options? Do you dare to try something you never have before? Check out my recipes page for ideas.
2. Try not dwell on foods you ‘can’t’ or ‘shouldn’t’ eat (particularly important if you have a food intolerance). Focusing on all the wonderful foods you can eat and including more of these in enjoyable ways will help you feel more positive about any dietary restrictions. Likewise, for dieters - telling yourself you 'shouldn't' eat something can often make you think about and want it more.
3. Choose fresh foods (especially plant foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, whole grains, herbs and spices) more often than processed foods. These guys simply provide more nutrients to help you function better and feel your best. Find ways t make them interesting and tasty if you don't already enjoy them.
4. No foods are off limits - forget diet-talk such as avoiding ‘bad’ foods! Consider whether restricting foods makes you want them more and make you feel deprived – how does this story end for you?
5. Learn to be an intuitive eater by listening more to your body than your head. Trust your body to tell you when, what and how much food to eat at that time based on your hunger, fullness and appetite cues. Our bodies are usually pretty good at regulating how much energy/food it needs from day-to-day (which can be influenced by a multitude of things including sleep, stress, activity, time of your menstrual cycle). People who have a history of dieting can be out of practice listening to their hunger, fullness and appetite signals. Read more about this on my mindful and intuitive eating webpage.
6.Learn to practice mindfulness. Do you often eat with distraction or eat so quickly that you hardly taste it’s flavour? Are you then left wanting more food that you think you need because of cravings or emotional appetite? Being more present in the moment can allow you to better enjoy your eating experience. For example, without distractions and focusing on what you are eating will allow you to enjoy the taste, texture, smell and other sensations of eating. Food is a pleasure, so allow yourself to tune in and truly enjoy it with rather than eating mindlessly and feeling like you have missed out. If you aren’t enjoying it then why are you eating it? Use it as an opportunity to get curious. Mindfulness can be applied at any time of your day to bring greater awareness of your thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings. Read more about this on my mindful and intuitive eating webpage.
7. Allow yourself choice before eating. It can be helpful to ask yourself whether you are truly physically hungry and needing to eat at that time or wait for a few more minutes; is there something else that would satisfy you more (like a home cooked version?); is it food your body is asking for or is it something else like stress relief, fun or simply a cuddle? What are you hungry for?
8. Know what your comfort foods are. We all have times where we turn to food for comfort. If you know which ones make you feel your best (physically and mentally) you can enjoy the moment much more. Are the foods you usually turn to truly the ones you will feel most satisfied with? Can you relate to eating more than you want after eating a range of foods to find the one that fulfils your need?
9. Consider a home and kitchen environment that makes it easy for you to eat nutritious foods. Is your fridge, freezer and cupboards stocked? Do you have cooking equipment? I think a good quality sharp chef’s knife is a must.
10. Expand your skills in the kitchen. Cooking is a very useful skill to have if you want greater control over your nutrition. I appreciate that not everyone enjoys cooking or feels like they have the time, but I think there are ways around these if you want to make home-cooking a priority. Find a simple recipe to experiment with or book yourself into a cooking class.
11. Planning makes everything easier. Do you have a shopping list? What about times of the week to go to the shops? Is it helpful for you to have a meal planner on the fridge that you can fill in at the start of the week? Using a recipe book or online recipes are a great way to get inspired and know what to add to the shopping list.
12. Don’t put up with simply managing symptoms; find out why they are there. For example, if you’re always tired it’s important to rest, but also consider why you are tired.
13. Do things that make you smile on the inside everyday. You may find it helpful to write a list of daily and weekly things you can do for yourself that help you feel good (mentally, emotionally and physically). Including ways to relax and reduce stress is important. When you do these things, appreciate the time taken and thank yourself for practising self-care.
14. Be your own best-friend and treat yourself with love, respect, compassion and patience. When we were young, we relied on our parents or carers to play this role. Now we are older, we need to rely on ourselves to meet these needs.
15. Allow your body to move and be active. As we get older, things feel stiffer and sorer. This is especially true if you sit down for most of the day. You can reduce this by embracing a variety of movement activities to free up your body. You will only ever have one body, so you may like to take care of it while you can.
16. Aim for work-life and family-life balance and time for yourself. Getting these balances right can be a challenge. But if you feel like you spend all your time doing things for others and often forfeit time for yourself, you may like to consider whether this is having a negative impact on your health, and how you can improve the balance.