Break the Spell of Food this Year

The spell of food can keep you in its thrall.  It can capture our attention and become an object of our obsession.  The real trick in my book is giving food its proper place in our lives.  In other words, it should be no less or no important than anything else, but for many of us, it can consume our thoughts and our attention.  Here are a couple of simple yet effective tips for you to consider:

Fuel your body.  Food is there to nourish us.  Give it the attention it deserves for special occasions, get togethers, communing with your friends and families.  But don’t give it a place of honor in your daily life.  My trick for this?  

  • In the day-to-day stuff, look at what you can do for your body, not what your body can do for you.  For example, consider your daily intake of calcium, protein, etc. in the real foods you eat.  Stop worrying about calories.  Rather, start counting the things that your body needs.  While this might sound boring and perhaps daunting, after you keep track for just a bit, it becomes easy to know what you are getting without tracking.  And the big bonus is it actually helps me make better food choices.  If I know I’m not getting enough fuel that my body needs, I won’t feel well and have the energy to do what I want to do.  If my body is under stress due to lack of good nutrition, it will hold onto calories.
  • Be boring.  Eat the same thing more often than not (of course not to the detriment of variety as it relates to nutrients.) Don’t dine out too often.  This way, you keep consistent and start to learn how to maintain good nutrient and caloric balance.
  • Everyone talks about eating whole foods, but this can be confusing.  What does this mean in reality when you are looking for that quick fix that doesn’t work against you?  Fry up some potatoes rather than eating potato chips (have pre baked potatoes in your fridge.)  Get some frozen fruit and cook it in the oven for a crisp.  Think easy but nutrient dense.  Your cravings can actually be physiological, not just emotional.  Your job is to tune into what your body is telling you, rather than just “stuff” the feelings with whatever is lying around.  

Murphy Proof your life.  I’ve talked about this just a few times!  But to me, this is the crux of facilitating change.  Murphy’s Law is the adage that “things will go wrong in any given situation if you give them a chance.”  So, don’t give it a chance.  There are more than enough different food items that if I had them in my house on a regular basis, I would not be able to stay away from them.  I don’t believe in will power.  I believe in managing my situation so that I don’t have to exercise my willpower.  What this means for me are tworon  things:

  • I make sure I don’t have food in my house that I can’t stay away from.  Rice crispie bars? Forget about it.  Little Debbies… please!  The whole pan and package would disappear within 15 minutes.  Yummy breads, same deal.  So I don’t keep them around because I know what will happen.
  • I do make sure I have food in my house that will help me from feeling deprived.  In other words, I make sure that the “snack” of the month is available.  I’ve gotten to the point where cheese, meat, milk, and orange juice are often my snack. It didn’t used to be that way. The other day I fried up some potatoes in butter and within 3 minutes had myself a warm salty snack.  Is there a perfect snack?  Yes, in the sense that if I can find one that gives me pleasure, satisfies me, but doesn’t take me further away from my long term goal, then yes, there is.  Typically raw veggies won’t satisfy me.  So I eat those for other reasons rather than telling myself that they are my snack. I need to anticipate that at some point in the day, my willpower will be low and my sugar craving is high so I need to have something work for me that fills the criteria.  Stop trying to be perfect in your food choices.  Just work at getting just a bit better.  

Deprivation is the #1 thing that will kill your success in weight loss or your journey to health.  Stop trying to be perfect in your eating patterns.  Again, eat for fuel on a daily basis, but enjoy your food on the special occasions.

Taking a different approach to your nutrition will help you create new neural pathways and new patterns.  In the end, move to feel better, eat to fuel your body, build community to feed your soul.  Don’t let food share more of your mind space and thought than it deserves.  Use it as a tool, like you would with anything else in your life, to facilitate your life and give you what you need and want.