Unhealthy hang-ups over food are most common among women. Yo-yo dieting, calorie obsession and overexercising are just to name a few. The worst part is these food-relating habits are ultimately considered socially acceptable in our culture today.
The trouble with our relationship to food is that media sends a lot of mixed messaging. We are lead to believe that convenience can be healthy when in fact the fusion of cheap, quick-to-prepare meals often translates into over-processed, empty calories that creates a prescription for gradual weight gain. We become trapped in a never ending cycle of compulsive self-control, followed by deprived overindulgence and finally a day-to-day sense of guilt over what we can and cannot not eat.
So what can you do to break the cycle?
Get back to the basics. Our relationship with food is actually over-complicated because many companies make meals too simple. If you tend to gravitate to ready-to-serve food choices, chances are it is full of preservatives and additives that eventually pack on the pounds. Processed foods remove nutrients and replace them with sugar, salt and other chemical additives to help to increase shelf-life. Good for the grocer, bad for the consumer. An easy rule of thumb is to do all your meal shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store. Processed foods tend to be found down the aisles, so if you stick to the borders you will be able to create meals from healthy sources (meat, veggies, eggs and dairy) and prevent adding extra sugar and salt to your diet which are key contributors to weight gain and other related health problems.
Eat breakfast. This one sounds simple, but its not always easy. What's important to remember is that eating breakfast is a habit that pays off. We burn more calories early in the day and eating a well-balanced breakfast prevents unhealthy snacking throughout the day. You are also more likely to make better food choices later in the day if you haven't deprived yourself within the first few hours upon waking up.
Stop dieting! Healthy happy women are far less likely to go on diets. It seems so funny to me that there is more than enough evidence to show how calorie-restricting diets never result in lasting weight loss and yet dieting is a multi-million dollar industry! But then again we also know that smoking cigarettes causes cancer and tobacco companies are still making money so perhaps we never learn....
The bottom line is this, if you want to stay slim for life you don't need another diet, you need to change your lifestyle. Weight loss should be the result of smart food choices everyday, not a goal you set for yourself every couple of months. Adopting healthy eating habits won't transform your body overnight, but the lasting results are worth the wait...no pun intended :)