Build a Better Relationship with Food to Lose Weight

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Eating well leads to healthy weight loss. It can be easy to veer into not-so-healthy territory with eating habits if you’re struggling with body image or desperate to get over a weight-loss plateau. Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, owner of MNC Nutrition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania says that the signs you’ve got an unhealthy relationship with food aren’t always easy to spot. You’re even closer to pursuing your weight-loss goals in a healthy and sustainable way once you identify them.

Here are the most frequent signs your relationship with food might need a little TLC:

You’re distracted by the plates around you:

Katie Rickel, PhD, a clinical psychologist and CEO of Structure House, a residential weight-management facility in Durham, North Carolina affirms that to an extent, it’s normal to take note of what others are eating — as a social being you naturally turn to those around you to see how you’re measuring up. But plate envy could signal you’re looking elsewhere for insight into what you should be eating and it isn’t the best for your relationship with food. “Since everyone has different needs, circumstances and eating rhythms, looking at another person’s plate at a single meal often provides useless insight and can lead us to question our own decisions needlessly,” she explains. By looking at one meal you don’t know what the rest of someone’s day looked like nutritionally or activity-wise.

Don’t think too much of your cheat day

You’re setting yourself up for an imbalanced and unfulfilling relationship with food If you find yourself restricting yourself all week with your sights set on what you’ll eat on your epic ‘cheat day,’ affirms Liz Wyosnick, a registered dietitian based in Seattle, Washington. She adds: ” Feeling deprived all week can also lead a cheat day to turn into a ‘cheat weekend’ or entire ‘cheat week”.

You likely won’t feel the need to ‘cheat,’ which ultimately is a healthier way to approach food in general. If your ‘cheat day’ typically means all-you-can-eat dessert, try including fruit with breakfast one day, a small piece of dark chocolate after dinner another, or a cookie for a snack instead if you’re getting your (albeit small) fix throughout the week.

Don’t eat to cope with your emotions

‘I deserve this,’ ‘I need this,’ or ‘It’s been a long day,’ Do these propositions sound familiar? High levels of the hormone cortisol boost your appetite for high-fat, high-sugar foods, and when you eat them, you start to associate them with comfort, and thus begins the endless cycle when you’re stressed. You’re likely facing an issue that food can never actually help if you’re continually reaching for snacks to deal with (or stifle) overwhelming emotions.

Don’t punish yourself for eating bad

Joanna Foley, a San Diego, California-based registered dietitian says: ” when eating junk food or going over your calorie limit leads you to eat less at your next meal, over-exercise, or limit yourself to only specific ‘clean’ foods for the next few days to ‘make up for it,’ this can lead to a dangerous cycle of food guilt followed by punishing yourself”.

Be more indulgent with yourself. Emotions and unhealthy beliefs are often the root cause of overeating so indulgence can help you in the long run.

Acknowledge the signs and surpass them in order to be successful in your weight loss journey.

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