Developing a Healthy Relationship with Food

Food is one of the many puzzle pieces of your day-to-day life. If you don’t have a good relationship with food, you’re not alone.

Many people have disordered eating tendencies or eating disorders. If you’re concerned that you have one of these conditions, it’s critical to get the right help.

To develop a healthy relationship with food, you have to have the right tools.

Working with a healthcare team, such as a registered dietitian and psychologist who specializes in eating disorders, is the best way to start mending your relationship with food.

Food restrictions, fad dieting, and self-prescribed notions like “getting back on track” won’t help and may be harmful. Working on your relationship with food may take time, but it’s necessary for your physical and mental health.

Tips for healthy eating in the real world

Here are some realistic tips for you to get started with healthy eating:

  • Prioritize plant-based foods. Plant foods like veggies, fruits, beans, and nuts should make up the majority of your diet. Try incorporating these foods, especially veggies and fruits, at every meal and snack.

  • Cook at home. Cooking meals at home helps diversify your diet. If you’re used to takeout or restaurant meals, try cooking just one or two meals per week to start.

  • Shop for groceries regularly. If your kitchen is stocked with healthy foods, you’re more likely to make healthy meals and snacks. Go on one or two grocery runs per week to keep nutritious ingredients on hand.

  • Understand that your diet isn’t going to be perfect. Progress — not perfection — is key. Meet yourself where you are. If you’re currently eating out every night, cooking one homemade, veggie-packed meal per week is significant progress.

  • “Cheat days” aren’t acceptable. If your current diet includes “cheat days” or “cheat meals,” this is a sign that your diet is unbalanced. Once you learn that all foods can be a part of a healthy diet, there’s no need for cheating.

  • Cut out sugar-sweetened drinks. Limit sugary beverages like soda, energy drinks, and sweetened coffees as much as possible. Regularly consuming sugary beverages may harm your health.

  • Choose filling foods. When you’re hungry, your goal should be to eat filling, nutritious foods, not to eat as few calories as possible. Pick protein- and fiber-rich meals and snacks that are sure to fill you up.

  • Eat whole foods. A healthy eating pattern should be primarily composed of whole foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and protein sources like eggs and fish.

  • Hydrate the smart way. Staying hydrated is part of healthy eating, and water is the best way to stay hydrated. If you’re not used to drinking water, get a reusable water bottle and add fruit slices or a squeeze of lemon for flavor.

  • Honor your dislikes. If you’ve tried a specific food several times and don’t like it, don’t eat it. There are plenty of healthy foods to choose from instead. Don’t force yourself to eat something just because it’s considered healthy.

These tips can help you move toward a healthier diet and a better relationship with your food.

If you’re not sure how to start improving your diet. A registered dietitian can help you develop a sustainable, nutritious eating plan that works for your needs and schedule.

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