The average person makes over 170 food choices PER DAY. Fad diets and mainstream headlines make these food choices even more difficult to navigate. After all, weren’t eggs “bad” a few years ago and now they’re the #1 breakfast food? Eat this, not that! Wait, milk does or doesn’t do a body good? Grains make up most the food pyramid… just kidding, gluten is the devil.
Here is what I have learned about food makeovers: A lasting change never starts with your plate, rather it’s a matter of mindset. If you don’t have your mental perspective of food clearly established your food fix is likely to fade as fast as it started.
Take one of my favorite studies for example— “Mind Over Milkshake”. A group of people were given 2 different milkshakes at two different times and their hunger hormone, ghrelin, was measured for 90 minutes after consuming each shake. One was labeled as a diet, low-calorie milkshake and the other was labeled with 650-whooping calories! Ninety minutes after finishing the high calorie milkshake there was a slight spike in ghrelin followed by a drastic drop. I equate this to the… “mmm this is good I want some more”… then five minutes later “oh wait I am actually really full” effect that happens when we indulge in decadent food. After folks consumed the diet milkshake, there was almost no change in ghrelin levels. The interesting part? These two shakes were calorically the SAME, they were only labeled differently! The way a person perceived the milkshake psychologically changed how they responded to it physiologically.
A clear mind about food starts with establishing a a set of principles that guide your eating choices based on both your mental and physical health. It allows you to establish extreme ownership of your food choices based on your needs that are aligned with your goals. It creates a mindset that balances intention and permission.
My food philosophy is this:
We eat for FUEL and we eat for FUN. Sometimes the food choices we make serve both functions. They are delish and nutrient packed. Sometimes they don’t overlap in function. We eat just for fuel (as in the case with raw, uncooked kale) or just for fun (as in the case with cupcakes… sorry, there is nothing nutritional about cupcakes). Understanding YOUR balance between these two functions is the a start to establishing your own food philosophy. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What function does food primarily serve in my life? Fuel or Fun?
2. What purpose do I want to use my body for today?
3. Does answer #1 support answer #2?
Want to know more about healing your relationship with food? Check out my private practice for one on one nutrition counseling in person or via Telehealth at www.dietitiansabq.com or get a customized Chow Down Checklist that teaches you how to balance your plate.