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Healthy Relationships With Food

  June 02, 2017
Submitted by Brittany King, APN, WHNP, Advanced Women’s Healthcare

That piece of cake looks absolutely delicious. I’m trying to be good though, so I’ll pass.” If you have ever found yourself saying or thinking a similar statement, you are definitely not alone! Modern-day society is full of messages about what we should and should not be eating. These mixed messages that we condition ourselves to believe can take a toll on our overall health and wellbeing.
We need quality nutritious food and meals as part of a healthy and active lifestyle. That said, there are certain foods that are meant to be enjoyed in moderation — and that’s okay! Why should you be the only one at a wedding to pass up the gourmet cake and ice cream because you are trying to “be good?”

Saying “I can” on occasion is a perfectly acceptable (and normal) part of life, when doing so is part of balanced lifestyle of healthy food choices, moderate exercise, and overall good habits.

Avoid the binge
Binge-eating is an activity which stems from an unhealthy relationship with food. Binge-eating is consuming large amounts of food at one time and feeling that you are unable to stop. Binge-eating is different from occasional overeating, in that binge-eaters deprive themselves from food for a period of time and then “fall off the wagon” because they cannot resist the urge to overeat. One way to combat binge-eating is to allow yourself a day a week to eat food as you desire, often known as a “cheat-day.” Say you are out to dinner on your “cheat day” and you spy French fries on the menu that sound mouth-watering. Go ahead and order them! It is natural to want these “bad” foods, and allowing yourself to indulge in a single serving may curb the urge to habitually eat foods that are not the best choice.

Please note that there are serious eating disorders which include binge-eating as a regular behavior. A binge eating disorder goes beyond simply having an unhealthy relationship with food and must be discussed with a health-care provider to ensure proper care.

Bad foods versus bad habits
In the grand scheme of living a healthy lifestyle, there really are no bad foods, only bad habits. Sure, a cup of steamed broccoli is far more nutritious and better for you than a serving of French fries. If you’ve been eating five cups of fruits and veggies every day all week long, and this is generally the case for you, when the thought enters your mind that perhaps today you would like to have an order of French fries, go ahead. As long as you limit yourself to this one meal in a given week, then you can maintain a healthy relationship with food.

Conversely, the siren song of the fast-food restaurants that line the highway on our commute to/from home is often hard to ignore. Our lives are filled with over-scheduled activities and not enough home time to plan for and prepare healthy meals. We can all understand that. As a nation, we have collectively developed bad habits where convenience is a major factor in our meal planning.

The fix? Carve out 15 minutes at the start of each week to prepare a menu. Then, set aside an hour at some point during the week to stock your fridge with pre-cut/quick-grab foods. When you go to the grocery store, tote your menu in-hand and stock up on the food items so you can prepare home-cooked meals and plan for lunches and mid-day snacks. I know that this is easier said than done, but the benefits of meal planning and prepping are huge! This up-front investment of time will help resist the urge to detour off the highway to zip through a drive-thru.

Food is the center of entertaining with friends and family, a focal point during celebrations and a natural part of daily living, so making balanced food choices is essential to overall wellness. A healthy relationship with food is as important as our relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. It’s okay to indulge a little, just make sure it’s not a lot!

Brittany King is an advanced practice nurse specializing in women’s health. She works alongside Dele Ogunleye, M.D., to provide a full range of obstetric and gynecologic services. She is now offering a new program for weight loss. To find out more, you may contact Brittany at Advanced Women’s Healthcare at 309-808-3068 or The office is located at 2111 East Oakland Avenue (Next to the Jewel-Osco Plaza).

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