7 Ways To Break Off Your Unhealthy Relationship With Food
How to spot the signs of fake hunger — and put an end to your cravings.
It happens all day long.
It might be happening right now.
You think you’re hungry. In fact, you’re convinced of it.
But you’re probably wrong.
It’s been suggested what most of us believe to be hunger is a learned response.
The result of subconsciously embedded suggestions, hunger pangs become a psychological security blanket to comfort us in times of stress, frustration, or boredom.
Sometimes it’s specific in nature — like when you want something sweet, or fried, or fatty.
Other times, it results from a behavioral trigger, like hearing the opening theme song of your favorite TV show and heading to the fridge for something to eat.
And with the media pounding our brains with images of sugary snacks, two-for-one specials, and calorie-laden meal deals, it’s a bit of a challenge to remind ourselves these options offer little in the form of basic building blocks of a healthy diet.
So what can we do when a desperate craving takes us in the direction of toxic food?
We can reframe our choices.
When was the last time you had a “craving” for a bowl of fresh fruit, a glass of water, or steamed veggies?
The good news is you can re-train yourself — and your taste buds — to do just that.
The concept is based on rewiring your mindset with an understanding of the importance of fueling and strengthening your body with food that’s good for you.
Yes, that bag of salty, sour cream potato chips looks, smells, and sounds delicious. But if you’re in it for the long run — and your goal is to be healthy, fit, and strong — it’s time to take control of what you eat.
And that means replacing harmful junk food with healthy options.
Here are 7 suggestions for cutting the cord with toxic food.
1. When hunger strikes, pour yourself a glass of filtered water — and drink it
Then, if you’re still hungry, grab a piece of fruit or a snack-pack of pre-cut veggies.
Eat and drink slowly — deliberately — and ignore the nagging voice tempting you with visions of sugary, greasy, fat-soaked garbage designed to destroy your body with an addictive “quick fix” of toxins.
2. Start by substituting a few items at a time
Eat a banana instead of a muffin, a veggie salad instead of a candy bar, a few ounces of pumpkin seeds instead of cookies.
I realize this mental and physical transfer won’t happen overnight. Start small and keep the goal in sight.
It can and will take time — and more than a little effort — as you begin to make choices that are more in alignment with good health. Because it means you have to face the fact that, up until now, you’ve been eating all the wrong things.
3. Eliminate gluten-filled bread, rolls, chips, and baked goods
Fortunately, you can find gluten-free options in most stores and, thankfully, more restaurants.
Better yet, bake your own healthy food using non-gluten ingredients like almond, coconut, and rice flours.
I’m a pasta lover, and for a long time, I had to put my obsession aside. But now there are gluten-free options available in every form and size — and I’m much easier to live with.
4. Use smaller plates and bowls to encourage reduced portions
This is a trick of the mind — and the eye.
You can try using the same over-sized plate that never seems full enough. Or you can reframe your vision of food by using a smaller size plate.
If after eating a small plateful of food you really think you need more, you’ll be forced to get up off that comfy couch to get it. Chances are, you’ll decide you’ve had enough, and will avoid overeating.
Even better, by that time, your brain and stomach have had a little chat and come to the mutual conclusion that you’re done eating.
5. Eliminate high sodium counts
Excess sodium may cause inflammation, bloating, and increased blood pressure.
How do you know if what you’re eating has a high sodium content?
It starts in the store before you put anything in your cart.
Read the label of every food item before deciding to purchase. If it’s too high in sodium — or fat and sugar based on serving size — quickly return it to the shelf and walk away.
Better yet, begin at home and take a hard, honest look at the food choices you’ve already made. Read the labels as if your life depends on it.
Because it does.
Then be brave enough to toss the items that no longer fit your healthy lifestyle.
6. Prepare good-for-you options ahead of time
If it’s too easy to consume a whole bag of quinoa chips or box of rice crackers, it’s time to end the madness.
Instead, try this:
Buy whole or pre-cut fresh fruit and veggies. Place them in portion-size containers and store them in the fridge.
Once a week, prepare small ready-to-go salads and light dressings (you only need a little, or better yet, brighten the flavor with a squeeze of lemon juice).
Use organic ingredients and store in air-tight containers for a no-excuse healthy meal.
7. Finally, realize your cravings for food may have nothing to do with being hungry.
Attempting to offset boredom and stress with food is a fast-track to putting on extra pounds that, in turn, create more frustration and stress — which continues to feed the cycle.
To break the seemingly impossible sequence, try pursuing other interests. For example, read a book, listen to a podcast, take a short walk, or call a friend and chat. Find a lifeline that works for you.
Just step away from the food.
And if you really want to fill the time productively, try meditation, yoga, or stretching exercises. Feed your body with conscious motion and care, focusing on strengthening your resolve and your muscles at the same time.
Start small, start easy. And start now!
Here are a few more tips to get started on the road to a healthier you!
5 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight
Tips for getting healthy, staying focused, and looking & feeling great — for the rest of your life.
Discover more tips and strategies for developing a positive mindset and achieving personal success in Real Life
Jill Reid is the author of Real Life, and founder of Pathway to Personal Growth and Kitchen Spirit. Her books and articles explore life, happiness, self-improvement, health, productivity, relationships, and personal success strategies for living longer and stronger through positive lifestyle choices.