Eat Chocolate and Still Be Fabulous
Lately I have been getting loads of questions about intuitive eating, having a healthy relationship with food, and how the heck I eat chocolate every day without getting fat. Every time I see girls with such horrible relationships with food, it absolutely breaks my heart. The media is constantly telling us that we must be a size 00, hover just about 100 pounds, and live on salad and water. This couldn’t be more untrue.
First of all, let me preface all of this by saying that I believe that everyone is beautiful regardless of their body type, size of their jeans, or number on the scale. So much value is placed on these inconsequential things, rather than things that really matter, such as a person’s character, their mind, and the good they do in the world. In the big scheme of things, your weight does not have any to do with your worth and it is not something to dwell on.
I myself have struggled with body image issues in the past and tried all of these silly little fad diets (none of which worked by the way). I realized that I am just absolutely, completely obsessed with food and nothing is going to change that. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself that I could have a salad for every meal, it just wasn’t happening. I’ve learned that there is a balance…you can have your chocolate (or whatever your weakness may be) and enjoy your food while staying at a healthy weight for your body. No need for crash diets and obsessing over the scale.
Here are some of the tips that I live by:
1. Most of the enjoyment from food comes in the first few bites. The more of something you stuff in your mouth, the less you allow yourself to taste and enjoy it. Instead of a huge heaping bowl of pasta, enjoy a hand sized portion and fill your plate with other options such as yummy veggies or a hearty soup.
2. Water is so important. Seriously, we do not get enough water. I suggest drinking a hot glass of water with lemon immediately upon waking up to rehydrate yourself after a night of sleep. Keep drinking water throughout the day. A glass about 30 minutes before eating a meal is so good for you and said to aid in weight loss. A big glass before bed never hurts either. Oh and sparkling water is the absolute best. Plus I feel fancy drinking it, chic water.
3. Portion control. Portions these days are so distorted, especially in America. We automatically assume that more is better. Learning portion sizes goes a long way towards losing weight. Learn to recognize 4 to 6 oz. portions of food and consume that amount.
4. Never deprive yourself. I believe Oscar Wilde said in the Picture of Dorian Gray, “The only way to get rid of temptation, is to yield to it.” I fully take this to mean that I can eat chocolate and bread without feeling bad about it. I think that it’s perfectly fine to indulge each day in something you love, as long as you keep it to a reasonable amount. Remember the balance, if you are going to have chocolate and alcohol at dinner, maybe cut down on bread. Simple, yet effective. Moderation, not deprivation.
5. Listen to your body. If you are hungry eat! Your body is telling you that it needs the nutrients. Never keep from eating simply because you are “sticking to your diet” or think that not eating will cause you to lose weight. If you are hungry have a healthy snack or meal, obviously your body needs it.
6. Take your time and eat your meals slowly. Enjoy your food and your mealtime! Eating should be a form of enjoyment, not an obsession over calories or a fear of getting fat. Make a big deal out of mealtime, have family dinners and converse with your family members. Eat slowly and enjoy the food, listen to your body when you are full. Don’t eat mindlessly just because the food is there.
7. Eat high quality food. Oh this one! Sometimes it seems that we eat whatever is easy or readily accessible. If you prepare high-quality food, it will take less to satisfy you. Never eat any “diet food.” Low-fat, high-preservatives, anything with too many ingredients on the label is probably unhealthy. Go to your local farmers market and pick out fresh fruits and vegetables. Invest in high-quality chocolate instead of Milky ways. Believe me, one good square of dark chocolate can satisfy you way more than 8 Milky Ways can.
8. If it’s not in the house, you won’t be as tempted to eat it. Let’s face it, if a box of powdered donuts or bag of Doritos is staring you dead in the face, you are far more likely to eat them, simply because they are there. It’s much more difficult to resist temptation when things are right in front of you, so don’t battle with your willpower…simply don’t keep these unhealthy items in the house.
9. Just in case snacks.Always keep a healthy snack on hand in case you are out and get hungry and don’t have time to eat. This will keep you from getting famished and overeating later. Healthy snacks can be anything from a handful of pistachio nuts, to a mini container of yogurt, or an apple.
10. Find healthier alternatives to your favorite unhealthy foods. For example, baked apples instead of full-on apple pie. Chocolate Covered Katie has fantastic healthy dessert recipes. However, don’t forget, the real thing is fine in moderation.
11. Never let the scale dictate your happiness. Why should a silly little number have any impact on your self-worth? Ignore the scale. Do not weigh yourself every day, unless you wish to drive yourself crazy. Your weight naturally fluctuates daily and it’s not something to be concerned about. Instead track your body with non-scale victories, how your favorite jeans fit, how you look in the mirror, etc. Counting calories also relates to this concept. I personally find counting calories tedious. However this method does work for some people, so to each their own.
12. Tea. This is pretty self-explanatory. Tea is absolutely fabulous for you. Especially herbal and green tea. Drink that.
13. Enjoy your food. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to prepare great food and love doing it. Figure out easy meals you can master and tweak them with different spices, dressings, etc. Switch it up. Fall in love with food and your relationship with it will be so much healthier. Eating should be enjoyable.
14. Move. Find a form of exercise you enjoy. You don’t have to be an Olympic gold medalist to be fit and healthy. If you like running than run! Weight-lifting, dancing, kickboxing, yoga, pilates, walking…go for it! Find something that you love and get moving.
15. Fall in love with yourself. Okay, I’m going to start sounding like some creepy Oscar Wilde groupie, but this quote is just so perfect: “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” It’s so absolutely true. Love every bit of yourself. Dance around naked in your room, compliment yourself in the mirror, know you look beautiful and own it…there is no one more you than you.
Note: these are just some healthy tips that work for me, they may not work for everyone, and I am far from a licensed nutritionist. I am only aiming to help people improve their body image issues and promote a healthy relationship with food. xx