If you’re solely focused on the nutrition details of your food, you may be missing out on the bigger picture. Consider a less fixated mindset when you approach food, and find more satisfaction from it.
By now you know there are all sorts of opinions about what you should or shouldn’t eat. It can be super confusing, right? The problem often lies in the approach — detail-fixated vs. big picture.
When we get too concerned about the details, we miss out on how everything actually fits together.
We run the risk of developing tunnel vision, which makes us forget that food should be satisfying, hold meaning, and bring us closer to people we love. In fact, these elements are just as essential to health and wellness as the nutritional value of food.
But for many people, they like predefined lists of what is (and isn’t) suitable for consumption. So here’s a list of four foods you ‘should’ be eating regularly that will help you shift towards a big picture approach and mindset with food.
1. Foods you find satisfying
Too many of us run scared of feeling satisfied, given the fact that we equate it with overeating or weight gain. The truth is, feeling full and satisfied from your meals is your solution. Not feeling full and satisfied is what leads to problematic behaviors.
You are physiologically and psychologically wired to receive satisfaction from food; it’s in your biology. White knuckle restriction or lack of satisfaction can only go for so long before you start looking for it. It has very little to do with self-control or willpower, which are two very misguided phrases when it comes to describing our relationship with food.
Instead of avoiding satisfaction, embrace it. Eating with the intent to feel satisfied will naturally decrease over or under eating, since neither is satisfying. While you may assume the opposite, giving yourself permission to feel satisfied will likely help you feel more in charge of your food choices, and ultimately, more in tune with your body.
2. Foods your family eats
When you’re with your family, the goal for dinner is to all eat together in part to model a healthy approach to food. Everyone can eat the same meal, although how much and what they choose from the meal may vary.
Too often, parents act as short order cooks (which may create picky eaters), or they may be on diets which prevent them from eating dinner with their children. Instead, let’s model healthy behaviors for our kids and practice moderation, variety, and balance while talking positively about our food and bodies.
Let your kids help you plan balanced meals with kid-friendly, fun, tasty, and nutritious ingredients. Someday they will leave home and make their own food decisions, and you have the opportunity to help them practice how to meet their nutritional needs in a positive, flexible and healthy way. Kids or no kids, you’ll just benefit from having a flexible approach to food where you can travel, eat out, have family meals, attend social events, and enjoy holiday meals without guilt, stress, anxiety or worry.
3. Foods that are celebratory and hold memories
Nostalgia is delicious, right?While we want to be mindful of hunger and fullness levels in general, we need to remember Vitamin Pleasure. Often times, we mistake pleasure and satisfaction for numbing and distracting, which are very different. Eating for pleasure and satisfaction is enjoyable, and leaves you feeling satisfied, content, balanced and energized. Eating to numb or distract is done quickly, usually without even tasting the food, and typically leaves you overly full, feeling unwell, and remorseful.
So while food can (and should) be celebratory and hold memories, we can easily start craving comfort food after a long work day, when we remember how mom’s Chicken Pot Pie always hit the spot after a long day at school. There is nothing inherently wrong with that — it’s good to feel excited about and connected with the food you eat. However, if you’re using it to consistently distract from uncomfortable emotions or negative situations that need attention (and find it hard to listen to physical signs of fullness when doing so), it may be time for more tools in your emotional wellness tool belt.
4. Foods that make you feel good
Truth be told, this is the ultimate goal of eating: food should be fuel for a full and satisfying life, and that’s best done with a flexible approach to food. However, if food gets in the way of doing that, your eating habits may be out of balance and you may want to consider reevaluating if the food is doing what you want it to.
- Is it leaving you feeling full, satisfied and energized for a few hours?
- Do you find yourself tired after eating?
- Do you still feel hungry and preoccupied with food?
Remember, a nutritious meal is one that is satisfying to eat and leaves you ready to take on the day.
That will definitely look different for everyone, and may take a little trial and error before you get there.
Stay curious and practice listening to your body, because you likely won’t need to completely eliminate or focus too heavily on specific foods. Aim to find your threshold and healthy tipping point, and recognize there’s plenty of wiggle room to find a balance that feels nourishing, satisfying, and energizing.
Choosing foods to eat can feel confusing, but it really doesn’t have to be that way.
Let food just be food.
Adapted from the original article.
Emily Fonnesbeck, RD, CD, CLT is a Utah-based private practice Registered Dietitian. Instead of creating unnecessary restrictions, Emily focuses on helping individuals become confident and in charge of their own well-being through Intuitive Eating and Mindful Living. She is a strong believer and advocate for helping people become capable individuals who are confident in taking care of themselves. Make a visit and read more from Emily.