Do you find yourself constantly looking forward to the next event as an opportunity to eat? Do you consistently overindulge in “bad foods” and justify the behavior with statements such as “I’ll work it off at the gym tomorrow!?” After a stressful day, do you seek food for comfort? If you answered yes to at least two of these questions, you are probably amongst those who “live to eat.” In the Western Culture we attend various events throughout the year such as, but not limited to birthdays, holiday parties, graduations, promotions, weddings, baby showers and sporting events where we use food as a tool to celebrate and bond. By no means am I suggesting that we should avoid these events where “bad food” may be offered. However, I am offering an alternative to LIVING TO EAT, which is EATING TO LIVE.
Living to eat usually speaks to a bigger problem. Those who live to eat often struggle with self-discipline and lack healthy outlets or coping skills. Everyone needs an outlet in order to traverse through life’s complexities. Unfortunately, food is the outlet of choice for many Americans. In fact, studies conducted in 2014 have shown that over 68% of Americans are overweight and more than 34% are obese. Experiencing the loss of a loved one, loss of employment, income, housing, going through a divorce are life altering events that can open the door for us to use food as an outlet, thus becoming “emotional eaters.” Emotional eaters consume food based on how they feel. Sometimes they overindulge or under-indulge in search of the food to provide the comfort needed to get through trying times.
By now you may be wondering: “How do I eat to live?” The following 3 tips can help you make the transition from Living to Eat to Eating to Live.
- Mindset: In order to be successful in positively modifying any behavior, we must begin with our mindsets. Take the time to reflect on your philosophy about dieting. Do you overindulge in food? If so, why? Do you under indulge in food? If so, why? When are you most likely to overindulge in bad foods? Before overindulging, ask yourself “Why am I eating this?” “Do I need this?” Do you have a healthy support system in place? Do you have an accountability partner? An accountability partner should be someone that we look up to, someone who can offer an objective perspective. Having an accountability partner is a great way to help us shift our thinking. Most of us do not want to let down someone we admire.
- Planning: In order to prevent falling into the trap of living to eat, we must educate ourselves with the proper information. This includes being aware of the ingredients in the food we are putting into our bodies. Read the back of food labels. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, should you eat it? Eating to live can also be expensive, so it is crucial that we budget for the food needed to support our healthy lifestyle. We must also be diligent in the preparation of our food. This will require taking the time to prepare meals for the day or week (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks). When we have healthy meals and snacks available to us, we are less likely to go on an eating binge. This process will require time, patience, consistence and persistence.
- Action: We discussed the mindset and planning needed to transition to eating to live and ultimately owning a healthier lifestyle. Now it’s time to make a commitment and just do it! If you are busy and concerned you will miss a meal, set an alarm for the times you PLAN to eat. Set aside time for eating meals and try to avoid eating and working. If you travel for work; pack food in a portable cooler or a thermal bag. Finding a strategy or routine that works for you may take some trial and error, but please do not get discouraged.
Cars are only as good as the maintenance, upkeep and fuel that we place in them. When we eat to live, we are fueling our bodies. But, it is important that we fuel our bodies with the right foods in order to have the energy needed to get through those long days. Most of us will devote countless hours to excelling on our jobs and building our businesses but neglect the maintenance of the driving force; which is YOU!
As previously mentioned, eating to live can be expensive and can feel like a full time job. You can choose to pay a low cost now while it is within your power to change or you can have the decision made for you to pay later with your health. We only have one body to live in; we must treat it with care!
Now it’s your turn! Please share your experiences with living to eat vs eating to live. What are your health and wellness goals?
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