Nutrition is a minefield of information, and sometimes I find that frustrating. The more studies carried out on different foods and diets etc; the discoveries are made. I mean, a few years ago everyone was told egg yolks caused cholesterol levels to rise. So, the egg white omelette become a thing. This makes it really difficult not to overthink your food choices constantly! Further studies proved this wasn’t true at all! It’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of overthinking what we eat. In this blog I want to look at a few ways you can prevent this from happening to you.
Tips to stop overthinking your food choices
Be kind to yourself! Food is meant to be enjoyed so don’t feel guilty about doing that ever! So what if you polished off a family sized bag of crisps. If you don’t do that often no harm done. You might feel a bit bleugh afterwards, but you wipe away the crumbs and keep going. Don’t be thinking “I have to eat super healthy tomorrow” or “I’ll go for an extra long walk on the treadmill to burn off the extra calories”. No! If you enjoyed those crisps, then leave it at that and move on.
One thing restrictive diets do very well is making you feel deprived. If you are constantly drooling over other people’s food while you sit with a class of water or herbal tea…maybe that’s your body’s way of saying “feed me!” Have you ever ordered something off the menu because it’s healthy and you spend the whole meal swiping chips of other people’s plates? Why not order you own portion of chips and feel satisfied?
Don’t let yourself get hungry by enjoying tasty nutritious snacks and meals. That way you’re less likely to crave the higher calorie foods as your body is getting enough fuel from healthier sources.
Drink water if you’re thirsty, an obvious one, right? However, by the time you feel thirst you’re already dehydrated! The best thing you can do is fill a bottle (about 500ml) and aim to drink 3-4 a day. Adding a drop of diluted juice to taste it is fine, but honestly plain water is better. Other ways to flavour your water more naturally is by adding some lemon juice, lime juice, a squeeze of fresh orange juice. The recommended minimum amount of water you need to drink per day to stay healthy is 1200ml.
Identify triggers and patterns. This may take a bit of effort on you part in the beginning, but once you identify these triggers and patterns you can attempt to avoid them. Think about when you tend to ‘go crazy’ on junk food. Is it when your stressed, tired, sad or all of the above. It there anything you can do to replace food when you feel like this?
Mindful eating and intuitive eating are two terms you may or may not have heard. They both focus on listening to YOUR body needs. It can be difficult to get used to this in the beginning, but the more you do it the better you will feel. For example, I find that I am not hungry for at least 1-2 hours after I wake up. I used to almost force myself to eat breakfast because I was told breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Because of this it often upset my stomach. By 10 or 11am I was ready to eat something light. I am more of an evening meal kind of girl. I feel hungrier later in the day whereas some people live for breakfast. We are all individuals and it’s the same for our nutritional needs.
Move about more! Not a nutrition tip exactly, but in a way the more you move the more fuel you’ll need so the more food you’ll be able to eat! Make sure you are fuelling your body right if you are doing regular exercise Even if you are trying to lose weight. You still burn calories even if you are sleeping and not moving at all.
Cook more. The more you involve yourself in the cooking and food preparation process the better. If you can boil water, you can cook! Start with simple things like boiling pasta or making a stir fry. Experiment with different flavours to find out what you like or dislike. Cooking more will also help you have a more balanced diet.
Be organised when it comes to food shopping. I always recommend making a list. Three steps involved in making an effective grocery list is,
Decide what meals you’ll be making that week and what ingredients you’ll need
Check what things you already have and what you need to get
Write down your regular items
Avoid keeping hyperpalatable food in the house or within reach. Hyperpalatable is another term for those foods that you physically can’t seem to stop eating even though your stomach is telling you to, your brain is all “more! More! More!” These foods are highly processed and food manufacturing companies use what’s called the ‘bliss point’. This is the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat to make the food literally irresistible. So no, when you can’t stop eating crisps or chocolate or takeaway foods etc you’re not weak or unmotivated exactly. Best thing you can do is not have a crisp/sweets/chocolate press if you find you’re always dipping into it. Get these foods for special occasions, but don’t have them in the house all year round if you can avoid it.
Just because an article says a certain food or drink is healthy it doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you. For example, nuts and seeds are great sources of protein, healthy fats and fibre, but if you have a nut allergy, they’re not good for you. For me I must avoid soya because I have a serious intolerance to it, but that doesn’t mean soya is ‘bad’, it’s just bad for me because my body doesn’t seem to tolerate it. Soya is also a great source of plant protein and a great protein alternative for Vegans of vegetarian, or people who are trying to cut back on animal products in their diet.
Don’t discriminate against certain foods. Yes, some foods are more nutritious than others, and some foods can cause health problems if we eat them too often. Look at it this way. If there’s a 50% off offer on Cadbury’s dairy milk (or any kind of sweet treat you enjoy) you’d likely buy it even if you had no intention of buying it before seeing the offer. However, if that same offer applied to fruit or vegetables, unless you specifically needed them, you’d probably ignore it. Why is that? I mean I’m guilty of doing this, but I’ve started asking myself the question “do I really want it and do I really need it”.
Hopefully by following these tips you can feel more at ease with food!