November 29, 2023


Qualified food specialists

Center for Family Health column: Want to be healthier? Change your relationship with food

3 min read

By Stephanie Skonos

JACKSON, MI – If you’re like many Americans, dieting has gotten you down.

Each year, millions try new diets, hoping to lose weight and get healthy, and the results are often the same: Before long, the diet ends, old habits return and so do the pounds.

The problem is not with the diets. It’s with our relationship to food.

Food is fuel. It is essential for good health. The ingredients are a proper balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils, nuts, meat, fish and dairy. When we’re off balance and have too much of certain foods and too little of others, our body “files complaints” in the form of weight gain, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and other ailments.

While many diets claim to offer the key to quick weight loss, the truth is that health and wellness is achievable without expensive fads or radical alterations to what you eat. Before you take your next bite of food, do this: listen to your body and ask yourself four important questions.

· Am I hungry? One of the reasons people overindulge is because they eat when they aren’t hungry. Maybe a coworker brought doughnuts to the office. Maybe you have had a stressful day and eating is a stress reliever. When you feel like heading to the fridge or pantry, start by asking whether it is hunger or something else driving you. Pay attention to the signals and to your surroundings. Many times, our decision to eat is not rooted in hunger at all.

· What should I eat? While there is no such thing as a “bad” food, the truth is that much of what we turn to in order to satiate eating urges isn’t food and isn’t in response to hunger. Sodas, potato chips, candy with added sugar, salt and fat are frequently sought for emotional reasons rather than hunger. Keep in mind what food is and isn’t. Turn to nutrient dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts to fix hunger and drink water to fix thirst. Real food will keep you feeling fuller, longer.

· How much should I eat? How many times have you eaten a food that is seemingly low in calories only to find the scale trending up? Chances are, you’re underestimating your portions. Check labels to determine proper serving sizes. Find out what “a cup” or eight ounces of oatmeal really look like. Keep listening to your body. As you eat, notice the feeling of hunger shifting to one of feeling satisfied.

· Can I live with my choice? The choices you make regarding your diet are up to you. Look down the road. Are your choices in line with ones that consistently lead to a healthy, full life? Practice paying attention to hunger and fixing it with mindful decisions around what and how much you eat. Engaged decision-making is more likely to have positive outcomes. Success over time means you can replace remorse with self-approval.

Finally, remember to be patient. There is no “quick fix” to your wellness, and integrating healthy practices takes time. Take it day by day, one meal at a time. You’ll find renewed enjoyment in your relationship to food and eating that leaves you feeling energetic, confident and joyful.

Stephanie Skonos is a registered dietitian with Center for Family Health, 505 N. Jackson St.

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