We hear the word ‘balance’ being thrown around all the time at the moment but what exactly is a ‘healthy balanced diet’ and what does it mean by taking a ‘balanced approach to food’...
To be clear this post isn’t about intuitive eating. There’s an argument that if you’re someone who’s come from food rule to food rule, essentially intuitive eating is just another set of rules for how to eat according to your body. So instead, this is about learning to identify your food habits and adjusting where you seem feasible. Disclaimer: this post is not here to heal a poor relationship with food. Should you feel that your relationship with food needs some work please seek professional personalised advice from a qualified individual or take a look at BEAT website.
So, to start with a healthy balanced diet is ultimately one which works for you, which leaves you feeling satisfied, full, free from gastrointestinal symptoms (although this can be associated with gastrointestinal disorders in which case this should be checked separately) and full of energy. For some that might mean a higher percentage of carbohydrates whereas for other it might mean a higher percentage of proteins or fats. We really are all unique and there is no one size fits all!
Please be aware that everyone’s relationships with food are unique and some much more complex than others. So, whilst this information is here to guide you, it’s not here to fix you!
When you start to realise that we are all unique, we all have different needs and just because something worked for your neighbour isn’t to say it will work for you, you’re much more likely to feel at peace with food. In order to develop a healthier relationship to food you should start to identify any common habits, feelings and emotions in relation to food. Ask yourself the following questions and answer them as honestly as you can.
- Do you feel out of control when food is around?
- Do you feel extreme emotions in relation to food (high or low)?
- Are you distracted from other tasks by thinking about food?
From your answers you’ll be able to asses where you think your relationship with food lies. Should you feel as though you crave a little bit too much or rely on food for comfort a few too many times a week/day then below are a few top tips. Remember though you should always seek advice from a professional should you feel that this is having a greater impact.
Check in with your cravings...
Cravings are completely normal to some degree but if you’re experiencing very strong and regular cravings then ask yourself: Could your blood sugar levels be low? Are you thirsty? Have you had a particularly emotional day? Are you currently stress, anxious or nervous?
Opt for self-care...
Often feeding your emotions with food can be viewed as a way of looking after yourself. Try taking time out, having a bath with a cuppa, read a book, head for a walk or simply watch a movie and allow some you time.
Don’t deny yourself...
Denying yourself specific foods is likely to lead you to wanting them even more. If you want a slice of chocolate, have it, enjoy it and move on
Balance isn’t about overeating one day and then pounding it out in the gym to ‘burn it all off’. It’s about incorporating a wide range of foods into your diet. Focusing on fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, wholegrains, beans, pulses, eggs, nuts, seeds and high-quality dairy for the most part and then topping up with the odd slice of cake, square(s) of chocolate or scoop of ice cream.
Speak the truth. Masking your emotions can sometimes lead you to consuming food by way of release as you’re not releasing your emotions out in the open. Understanding how you’re feeling is challenging although can be really important when it comes to your relationship with food.
These are just a few useful insights which can help make a dent into understanding your relationship to food and finding #balance. Remember though if this is something which has additional roots then please do seek advice.