Why do you eat? What is your relationship with food?

By: Joella Baker

Last year I wrote about your relationship with exercise for our February and Valentine’s issue.  This year, I wish to discuss your relationship with food.   We have fun and loving relationships with our families, friends and even our pets.  However, when it comes to food, our relationships aren’t always so straight forward. Candy 048

Ultimately, food is supposed to offer us fuel, nutrients, strength and energy.  However, it has also become a source of pleasure, comfort, sadness, anxiety and most of all stress.  Food has since become convenient and a major part of how we socialize and celebrate.  Therefore, you need to determine what your relationship is with food and what motivates you, tempts you and causes you to eat if you wish to get on track and get healthy.

You should eat for the right reasons.

Easier said than done, isn’t it?  Most of us eat for a reason other than the fact of being hungry. You may eat because you are stressed out, you are sad, you have anxiety or simply because food is in front of you.  What is your food trigger?  Ask yourself why you are eating.  Is it because you’re hungry or because there is food in front of you?  Many of us have no idea when we are hungry or satisfied. Before beginning a meal ask: how hungry am I? The answer to this question will set the tone for how much you need to refuel in this meal. After all, fuel is why we should be eating, so determine how much you need to fill your tank so you don’t overeat.  If you can accomplish this, then you’re on the right track to getting healthy.

Focus on your food and what you’re eating.

When was the last time you really focused on what you were eating?  We are in such a hurry, we often forget to stop and actually enjoy our food.  Mindful eating is one of the new buzz words used by nutritionists these days.  It simply means to be present when you eat.  Sit at a table and look at your food.  Take time to smell it.  When you actually take a bite, chew slowly and savor the various flavors and textures so your mind and body will know they have eaten.  Chew your food and enjoy it.  It’s recommended that you chew your food 30 to 50 times per bite.  Most importantly sit at a table when you eat and turn off the distractions.  Standing or eating on the go is too much for your mind and your stomach to process.  When you sit and eat, your digestive system will work better and your mind will process that it has eaten.  Marc David, author of Nourishing Wisdom says, “You have to be there when you eat. The belly is full but the mouth is hungry.” The brain experiences hunger if it hasn’t experienced the taste, pleasure, aroma and satisfaction from the food. Stay present and mindful when you eat.  You’ll find you actually eat less.

Food satisfies and makes us happy.  Here are three happy foods for you to try.

This Valentine’s Day, think about what foods satisfy you and make you happy.  What nutritional value do these foods have?  For most people, especially women, chocolate is number one on the list.  Chocolate offers energy because it contains caffeine and it contains tryptophan, which can promote a sense of well-being and relaxation.  Try just one piece a day to satisfy your craving.  Really, that’s all it takes.  One small piece a day and your chocolate cravings will be satisfied and you’ll be less likely to overeat or splurge on chocolate or other foods if you aren’t depriving yourself of the foods you love. 

 Honey is known as the nectar of Aphrodite.  It’s been known to help with allergies, but more importantly, it increases energy since it metabolizes so quickly.  Add honey to your tea, to toast, to yogurt and to your smoothies.  For athletes, Honey Stingers and Honey Waffles are popular for a reason.  They offer that boost you need on your long run or ride because your body can process it quickly.  Try some honey today. 

Grapes make wine, and wine is one of the most romantic indulgences we consume.  The aroma, the taste and the warmth it provides makes us happy.  A glass or two a week will give you the satisfied feeling you’re looking for and can provide necessary nutrients.  Grapes offer essential vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B and Folate. A 4-ounce serving of grapes can contain anywhere close to 20-25 percent of your daily required serving of Vitamin C, and yes, that will transfer into your wine.

Don’t over-indulge with any of these.  They are still packed with calories, but each of these will help curb other cravings if consumed in moderation, so this Valentine’s Day, eat one small piece of chocolate, enjoy one glass of red wine and add a spoonful of honey to your tea, toast or yogurt at breakfast, and see if your sweet cravings go away.  Happy Valentine’s Day!