Rethinking Our Relationship with Food
Food is our friend, and sometimes we all need to invest a little effort into that friendship!
While many of us (myself included) are self-professed “foodies”, our relationship with food might not be the healthiest. Especially when we commit to eating healthier, sometimes certain foods can look like the enemy (i.e. that perfectly moist brownie that you’ve been craving as a midnight study snack). Like most things in life, there’s a balance to be struck when it comes to eating healthily and holistically. Here are three tips for reconnecting with our food (and our bodies!) in a positive way.
- Use mindful practices when eating.
As students in a rush, it’s easy to just scarf down a meal and move on to the next meeting or study session (it’s okay, we’ve all been there). However, eating slowly and really acknowledging the flavors and textures of your food can significantly help you 1) not overeat and 2) recognize how this food is nourishing your body and providing you with energy. Allow your meals to be be a time to reflect on all the things food does for you. Does the mac n’ cheese you make remind of you of being a kid? Does your sandwich provide you with the energy and nutrients you need to get through your afternoon classes? I also like to take a little time to express gratitude for whatever food I have in front of me, and to recognize all the sunlight, people, and effort that contributed to my meal. For more information on mindful eating, check out this article: https://zenhabits.net/what-is-mindful-eating/.
2. Get rid of “punishment” and “reward” language when talking about food and exercise.
So often, we say (or hear others say) “I’ve worked hard today. I deserve this piece of cake.” Or “Wow, I ate sooo much today. I have to hit the gym and run this off”. What’s wrong with this kind of language? It frames food (often unhealthy food for that matter) as a “reward” and exercise as “punishment”. Thinking of food in this way can severely undermine our efforts to eat healthily and to exercise consistently. Our bodies need nutritious food and heart-pumping exercise in order to thrive. Ultimately, feeding ourselves well and helping our bodies grow stronger are acts of self-love that we can all do everyday, and THAT’S what our bodies deserve.
3. “Good” and “bad” language with food also isn’t necessary.
Speaking of the language we use when talking about food, I’ve become a lot more aware of the labels I place on my meals. Tracy Betz, our very own campus dietician really opened my eyes to the name-calling I used with my food. “Pizza isn’t the enemy!” She said to me when I came into her office for a diet consultation. “The cheese has protein and fats that your body needs and the crust has complex carbs. The tomato sauce counts toward your daily intake of vegetables too. Should you eat pizza everyday? No. But when you do, remember that it’s still providing for your body.” When you indulge, don’t let guilt get in the way. Enjoy a little treat every now and then without thoughts of what you “should” eat swirling through your head.
Concerned about your eating habits? Marquette offers free dietician services for all students, faculty and staff. Make an appointment with Tracy Betz, R.D. to talk about anything from eating disorders to meal planning. http://www.marquette.edu/medical-clinic/appointments.shtml
Want a more peer-to-peer approach? If you just want to learn more about nutrition or make goals related to your eating habits, Wellness Peer Coaching might be right for you! Learn moreI’m here: http://www.mu.edu/formassembly/857.I'm
Chiara Shehata, WPE