Positive Food Connections

Camille Parker, Senior Writer, Denver

July 18, 2018

We hear all the time that we have an unhealthy relationship with food. Don’t you hate hearing that? Because it makes us feel like a failure for enjoying nature’s bounty. And topping off that fear of failure is the gnawing realization that there are thousands of food blogs online. Ready to remind us just how much we are messing up in the kitchen and on our plates.

We don’t have to feel this way. Though it’s not unknown, it sometimes needs to be said: our relationship with food is PERSONAL.

It’s very personal – no one should be telling you exactly what to eat, when, how much or why. But we also want to be healthy. What do we do? Whatever guilt we’ve grown up with surrounding food, we need to reevaluate. Here are some key reasons why:

Food is sustenance

Like all life forms, humans need food to survive. It’s simple. But to be our healthiest, long-lived selves we need to eat food that sustains us with natural nutrients, is clean, whole (or minimally processed) and as fresh as we can get.

The reason people feel sluggish and sometimes queasy after we eat is due to both the type of food we are ingesting and the quantity. Eating processed food continually is likely to cause a host of health issues: high cholesterol, diabetes, gluten intolerance, high blood pressure and many other maladies.

Food is sustenance

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Ways to help sustain our bodies while gaining the most enjoyment out of our food are varied.

  • Shop the perimeter at the grocery store. Have you heard of this? The food around the perimeter of a store is generally fresher and healthier than what’s in the middle aisles. Processed food takes up the majority of the center of a store’s shelves. Stick to the perimeter and you will be buying fresher, more nutrient-rich items.
  • Choose to not always get the French Fries or Onion Rings as a side dish. Restaurants have been moving to accommodate health-minded diners for years. So ask for that side of steamed vegetables or a salad – or soup.
  • Switch up your lunch options. How many of us are in a rut when it comes to lunch? Eating out too often? Try thinking a little bit outside your comfort zone. Bag up chopped veggies, meat, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, etc. on a Sunday, then all you have to do for your lunch during the week is to take the bags to work with you and make a fresh salad every day. Tired of salad? Make a big pot of soup, stew or casserole and take that to work. It saves you money and you will know what you are eating because you are the one who made it.
  • Leave the table when you are starting to get full instead of when your plate is empty. You may have heard some of these tricks, but they truly work and will help you recognize how much we’re eating was making you as unhealthy as the type of food you were eating.
    • Use smaller plates
    • Divide the plate into 4 quadrants: 1 for protein, 1 for starch and 2 for vegetables
    • Slow DOWN! Most Americans eat far too fast for our bodies to recognize that we are full. If you eat more slowly, you will enjoy your food and you will be able to feel when your stomach fullness receptors are engaged.
    • Drink more water. Many times, we think we are hungry when in reality we are thirsty. Studies have shown that people don’t drink nearly enough water during the day.

Food is our legacy to our families

How many times have we heard that a recipe was handed down generation to generation? I bet almost everyone has something that they cook or bake that falls into that category. My sister put together a recipe cookbook for our family. That way we could share our recipe legacy with each other and the next generation. At last count, we are on version 3.0. The other versions were great, but we needed to add just a few more gems to the list.

Go into your recipe box this week and make a dish that reminds you of a happy time in your childhood.

Better yet – amend the recipe to be healthier for you. For example, you can’t taste the difference in a sauce that uses heavy cream if you substitute lower fat milk mixed with a little flour to thicken it up. Or using applesauce in place of oil in a homemade cake or brownies. Finely chop or shred carrots or zucchini into sweet bread too.

There are many ways to savor the love from our family recipes and feel good knowing we are eating healthier.

So, the next time you start beating yourself up about eating something ‘bad’ for you, realize that you have options. You can make the changes easy and painlessly to ensure that your favorite foods aren’t off the list.

Enjoy your food.

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