Positive Strategies for a Healthy Relationship with Food

Our life-long relationship with food is complicated and personal but it can be joyful and delicious.  Just as we need to educate ourselves on how to maintain a healthy planet, we must also be aware of how we can maintain a healthy body. Sustainable eating isn’t a diet—it’s life-long habit. By increasing your intake of whole, natural foods and eating fewer unhealthy, processed items, you can improve your overall health and positively change your relationship with food.

Changing habits takes time, so try incorporating a few tips every week.

1. Cut out Added Sugar
Eating too much added sugar has been linked to a wide array of health issues, ranging from obesity to heart disease.  Avoid foods and beverages with added sugar (including “diet” foods like low-fat dressings and diet soda). Seek out natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. 

2. Meal Prep for Success
Prepping bulk meals for the week ahead ensures that you will have fresh, healthy options every day. This not only keeps you from buying “on the run,” which leads to unhealthy choices, but also provides an opportunity for a weekly family activity. Knowing what’s in your food is important and cooking for yourself is the easiest way to control what goes in and what stays out of your body.

3. Shop the Perimeter
Make it a priority to fill your cart with foods from the perimeter of your supermarket before moving on to the interior. The perimeter of the grocery store usually contains fresh produce and healthy protein sources like eggs, yogurt and poultry.

4. Experiment with New Foods
Adopting a sustainable eating pattern that involves trying new foods is an excellent way to expand your palate.  Joining a Community Support Agriculture (CSA, like at Coverdale Farm Preserve) is a great way to try out new vegetables or herbs every week.

5. Eat the Rainbow (When in Doubt, Go Green!)
Including a wide variety of nutritious vegetables, fruits and herbs in your diet is an important (and fun) part of sustainable eating.  Colorful options like berries, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, red (and orange and yellow) peppers and turmeric are packed with powerful plant compounds and nutrients that are essential for health.

Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and arugula are easy and nutritious ingredients that can be added to almost any meal.  Adding a mixed green salad to your meal, incorporating sautéed spinach into an omelet or tossing fresh kale into your favorite smoothie are easy ways to eat more healthy produce.

6. Support Your Local Farmers (and Organic Farming when possible)
Sustainable eating includes knowing your food and where it comes from. Purchasing food directly from small farms means that you can be informed about the methods used to grow, produce and raise animals for meat, poultry, eggs and dairy.

7. Keep Your Pantry and Fridge Stocked
Keeping a supply of healthy canned, frozen and bulk ingredients on hand can make last-minute meals a breeze.  Canned beans, frozen vegetables and grains like quinoa and oats are affordable, and can be stored in the freezer and pantry to be enjoyed at any time.

8. Make Healthy Versions of Your Favorite Treats
Need something sweet after dinner? Don’t deprive yourself, just choose carefully. Some healthy sweet-treat ideas include: dipping strawberries in dark chocolate, making energy balls with nut butter, oats, coconut, and dark chocolate, and baking apples stuffed with chopped nuts, oats and raisins.

9. Practice Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is a technique that teaches you how to make healthy choices and promotes a positive relationship with food.  It involves paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues, which can decrease chances of overeating.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.