The first full week of January is Women’s Empowerment Week, which makes it an excellent time to think about small ways you can empower yourself through food. Food may seem like a simple thing. We all eat it every day, and it’s one of our most basic needs. But in our society, food has a complicated relationship with self-esteem. We decided to look at ways you can empower yourself by making small, achievable changes to the way you think about, shop for, prepare, and eat food.
Here are our top recommendations for empowering yourself through food, based on UnDiet Actions from the new book Go UnDiet by HealthCastle’s editor-in-chief, Gloria Tsang.
UnDiet Actions to Empower Yourself through Food
If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, you’ve probably programmed yourself to be on the lookout for low-calorie, low-fat foods. In fact, you may have become so used to doing this that you’ve stopped noticing that you don’t actually enjoy these foods very much. The reason why is simple – they often bear little resemblance to real food. They’re packed with additives and thickeners to simulate the texture of the real food products they’re meant to replace, but they’re never quite the same. What’s worse is that because they’re not very satisfying, you may actually end up eating more of them than you would if you just ate the real, more satisfying, full-fat, full-calorie version. So free yourself from the low-fat, low-calorie hunt, and focus on watching your portion size instead.
Un-drink Your Calories
Drinking calories is the number-one reason why Americans are so overweight, and many people don’t even realize how many calories they’re drinking in a day. The simplest way to cut calories you won’t even miss from your day is to cut back on soda, or cut it out entirely. When you’re thirsty, your body is telling you it needs water, not sugar and caffeine. Give your body what it’s craving and make yourself healthier in the process. If water seems too boring, check out the next UnDiet Action.
Un-bore Your Water
It can be hard to get the recommended six to eight glasses of water every day. After all, water really doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to zip and pizzazz! But water doesn’t have to be boring. The easiest way to jazz up your water is to throw in some frozen berries or other frozen fruit. The fruit will add lovely (natural) color to your water while enhancing the flavor and making it much more fun to drink. You’ll be amazed at the difference getting enough water will make to the way you look and feel.
Nothing takes the joy out of eating like counting the calories of every bite you put into your mouth. So we think you just shouldn’t do it any more! A key part of a healthy relationship with food is allowing yourself to enjoy every mouthful. That doesn’t mean you should go crazy and eat until you’re stuffed. What it means is that you should simply slow down, eat in an environment that allows you to savor your food and enjoy others’ company (at the family table, for example, instead of in the car), and learn to listen to your body’s signals that tell you to stop eating when you’re full.
Our troubled relationship with food isn’t only about eating. It’s also about the guilt we may feel about not making a home-cooked dinner every night, or ordering pizza too often, or just nuking something that all family members can eat on the run. When you’re busy, healthy eating can seem like a lot of work. So it’s okay to unburden yourself by asking for help. Try looking into local produce delivery services, or ask another family member to take on some of the grocery shopping. Get your family involved in meal preparation and cleanup. And even if you do resort to take-out from time to time, don’t let it feel like a failure. Just make it a goal to cook at home when you can, and to keep the house stocked with healthy ingredients so that when the opportunity to cook arises, it’s not a lot of effort.
The Bottom Line
Here’s one more “un” action for you: un-complicate your relationship with food, and you’ll be surprised how empowered you can make yourself feel in the process. Follow the UnDiet Actions in this article to re-claim a healthy relationship with food without all the guilt.
Christina Newberry is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in national and local magazines and newspapers. With a Bachelor’s degree in English and Anthropology from the University of Victoria and a Journalism Certificate from Langara College, Christina brings keen curiosity and the love of a good story to her work with HealthCastle.com.
Christina is a passionate traveler and urban gardener with an interest in vegetarian eating and making good, tasty food from scratch. Sharing lessons learned from her own experiences, Christina writes about lifestyle topics for HealthCastle, with a focus on eating well at home and on the road.