As a society, we always tend to label our food as “good/bad” or “healthy/unhealthy.” We have a major misconception about food: that certain kinds of foods are good while others are bad. Of course, the nutritional content in all foods are different, but any kind of food eaten in moderation is good for us. All food groups are filled with some type of nutrients, which, in one way or another, helps in building energy in our body. The key here is to eat everything but in moderation, as anything in excess is bad for us. We tend to eat to live but we should live to eat as well.
In today’s time, social media plays a key role in promoting the concept of body image. “Skinny is good and fat is bad” is a misconception. Anorexia and obesity both are considered disorders by the American Psychological Association. Social media needs to promote the concept of health rather than of body image, as “fat” and “thin” are perceptions that differ from one person to another. I think that it’s essential that we alter our lifestyle in order to not feel guilty about the foods we eat. Here’s how I feel we can do that.
- Have a balanced diet.
Rather than completely depriving ourselves of fats, sugar and carbs, we need to include a mixture of all kinds of nutrients in our diet to maintain balance. This will give us overall nourishment and won’t make us feel guilty about indulging once in a while, as well.
- Know when to stop.
Most of us get so excited when we see our favorite snacks that we don’t realize when we should stop eating them. We must have a balanced diet and not deprive ourselves of our favorite snacks, but at the same time, we need to know when we have had enough and when it is time to stop in order to avoid any guilt because of overeating.
- Be mindful.
It’s essential for us to be mindful about what we are eating. We need to consciously be aware of the taste, texture and quantity of everything that we are eating. We should really savor each and every morsel in order to avoid over-eating, and in turn, a major guilt trip.
- Don’t binge-eat.
Bingeing, in its simplest form, means depriving ourselves of the foods we cherish, leading to our brains craving it more, and thus, eating it in large quantities. This is absolutely the worst thing we can do. In the heat of the moment, we may binge-eat, but after that, the kind of guilt we will feel will be unimaginable. In order to avoid this, we should eat whatever we crave at regular intervals but in small quantities.
- Portion control is key.
Portion control is the key to healthy living and healthy eating. Foods that we label as “bad” can also be healthy for our body if eaten in smaller portions. For example, if we are eating chips, we shouldn’t sit with the entire packet, as we wont know how much we are eating. We should instead pour them in a small bowl, and once the bowl is over, we should put the packet away.
- Inner health is important.
In today’s time, we are so focused on how things look on the outside that we tend to lose focus on our inner health. We see someone who is thin and think “Wow, they’re so healthy.” Being thin has nothing to do with being healthy; that is a major misconception. I know many people who are thin but have the unhealthiest life and many chubby people who have a very disciplined and healthy lifestyle. Health is not always about how you look on the outside but how you treat yourself on the inside.
- Exercise regularly.
Exercising is crucial for each and every person, fat or thin, healthy or unhealthy, old or young. We live in a very busy time, and not everyone has the time to go work out at the gym. We need to find healthy alternatives that we can incorporate in our super busy day-to-day life. We can walk instead of taking the cab, use the stairs instead of the elevator, play a sport or simply go to the gym, as well. Whatever your choice is, it’s very important to continuously be on the go, thus relieving yourself of the guilt of having your favorite snacks.
- Find nutritious substitutes for your favorite snacks.
We have healthy substitutes for most of the things we love, from sugar to rice and beyond. There are so many ingredients we can substitute to make our favorite snacks higher on the nutrition scale and almost non-existent on the guilt scale. For example, we can substitute milk chocolate for healthier dark chocolate, fresh cream for Greek yogurt, butter for coconut oil, and canned fruit for fresh fruit, just to name a few options.
- Eat when you’re not hungry.
This may sound completely absurd, but it actually makes a lot of sense. We all eat when we are hungry, but in between meals, we must eat, even if we don’t think we are entirely hungry. This will lead to our stomachs being full all the time, thereby reducing any unhealthy craving that we would eventually feel guilty about.
- Don’t eat because you’re bored.
We may not be mindful of this, but a lot of us tend to eat not because we are hungry but simply because we are bored. We don’t know what else to do, so we open our favorite foods and start snacking. We mistake boredom for hunger, which, in turn, increases our guilt for eating these snacks in the first place.
Food by itself is not “good” or “bad” but how we consume it is what makes it “good” or “bad.” Food makes most of us happy, and we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of what we want to eat. We get one life, and it’s essential to indulge in our favorite snacks, as long as we don’t overdo it. Indulging all the time can lead to health issues, and that’s not what we want. We need to plan what we eat; for example, if we indulge in lots of chocolate one night, we need to have lots of greens and exercise the next day in order to feel good about our body. We need to be mindful of what we eat, how much we eat and how to balance our diet in order to have a healthy life and not feel bad about eating certain foods. Always remember, laughter is brightest where food is the best. -Irish Proverb.