Want to eat healthy? Give thought to HOW you eat

Posted on Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Written by Lindzie O'Reilly

When students come to me for tips on healthy eating, they often want to know what to eat and what not to eat. Often, however, we need to give thought to HOW we eat before we can start to change WHAT we eat. We eat for tons of different reasons - for fuel, for enjoyment, for social and emotional reasons. Eating for health is just one small part of why we eat.

In my experience, when a student decides to make changes to their food habits in an attempt to improve their health or change their weight, they often take an extreme approach. This often leads to many food rules around what and how much is allowed. While this approach may work in the short term, it is often quite restrictive and is very rarely sustainable. It's also not very fun.

Healthy habits have tons of benefits for both physical and mental health, but I see many students who take healthy eating to an extreme. Labelling foods as 'good' or 'bad' and setting strict rules around portion sizes is stressful and can be mentally quite unhealthy. Rather than making drastic changes to WHAT you eat, try taking a step back and observing HOW you eat. Making positive changes to your food environment and your relationship with food will naturally translate into changes in your food behaviours. The difference, however, is that the changes are realistic, satisfying and sustainable as opposed to being stressful and restrictive.

Casey Berglund from the Globe and Mail wrote a great article this week with 9 concrete tips to help you eat more mindfully. Learning how to eat mindfully is neither quick nor easy, but it's worth it in the long run!

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