By Rachel Kaufman
An estimated 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Most of those people’s eating disorders typically begin in college between the ages of 18 and 21. Due to the prevalence of this type of disorders, it is vital that we work to decrease the risk of developing an eating disorder.
One way to reduce the risk is to foster a healthy relationship with food. To do so, consider implementing the following practices.
1. Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is the practice of paying full attention to the experience of eating. It is realizing the color, smell, texture, flavor, temperature, and crunch of the food you are eating.
Intuitive eating is important, because taking the time to fully experience the act of eating not only makes us more aware of what we are putting into our bodies, but can also keep us from overeating.
Don’t punish yourself for the dozen donuts you ate last night. You are allowed to eat today no matter how much you ate yesterday, even if you can’t make it to the gym. Food is a basic human need, and your body needs it to survive and thrive.
3. Remind Yourself That “Food is Love”
Our culture is heavily influenced by an unhealthy diet mentality that tells you food should be treated as “good” and “bad” and that it is something that needs to be earned. These are lies and scams that companies have created to sell their diet pills, teas, and protein shakes to you. No food is bad because food does not have morality, it has nutrients.
Food is a magical part of our physical and social lives, so don’t let the diet industry win. Let yourself win by using food as a means to fuel your body, as well as a means to socialize.
4. HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?)
Before you eat your next snack or meal, ask yourself if you are HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?). If you answer yes to angry, lonely, or tired, then deal with your urge with something other than food. Consider these alternatives instead:
- Go for a walk.
- Breathe deeply.
- Call a friend.
- Measure your hunger cues with a hunger scale.
- Write in your journal.
- Do something to feel good about yourself. For example, look in the mirror and tell yourself 5 things you love about yourself.
5. Stop Comparing Yourself
Falling into the trap of comparing yourself to others is bad for you mentally and physically—it chips away at the energy you need to meet your own goals. When making decisions about food, it is important to remember that what works for someone else might not work for you.
Your body has different needs, and there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet. That intermittent fasting plan might be working out great for your friend, but if you know the idea of skipping meals rehashes old disordered eating issues, there’s no need for you to jump on board.
Remember, you’re on your own journey. Instead of comparing yourself with others, check in with yourself about what you’re working toward and why, and highlight how much great progress you’re making. If you feel like you aren’t making progress at that moment, use that feeling as incentive to create a healthy, realistic goal that you can create based off of your own needs. You are unique and so are your nutritional needs.
Cover Image Credit: Vector Stock