Stop worrying about what you eat and start loving it. Rather than ticking off all the things you shouldn't eat, enjoy your food and make your meals a pleasurable experience that you look forward to. Here are three tips to increase your food pleasure while maintaining a healthy weight -- without even having to think about it!
Eat for Pleasure: Take time to savor your food. A healthy eating plan will include 'indulgences' every now and then and you shouldn't feel guilty about eating the foods you love.
Comfort foods are examples of how closely tied emotions are to our eating habits. So if you find comfort in a high-fat treat, don't view it as something 'bad,' take extra time to sit down and really enjoy it.
Eat with Family and Friends: Create positive eating experiences for yourself and your family by taking the time to sit together at mealtime. Not only can it be pleasurable for the adults but it is an ideal time to share your positive attitudes about food with your children.
Mealtime conversation brings the family together, promotes self-esteem in children and starts a lasting and positive relationship with food. You can also include your family in meal planning and preparation. Mealtime is an ideal time to strengthen family ties and pass on family cultural traditions. Kids are more likely to try new foods when they are involved in meal preparation.
Consider Satiety: Eat balanced meals that are satisfying by choosing nutrient-rich foods from all five food groups. A balanced meal consisting of carbohydrate, protein and fat gives you energy, prevents a drop in blood sugar and keeps you satisfied for several hours. Eating meals or snacks that contain a balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat is the best way to feel satisfied and have sustained energy.
If you're trying to last between meals without a dip in energy-or strong food craving that sends you to the vending machine-think of eating balanced meals of nutrient-rich food, including carbohydrate, protein and, yes…some fat! A satisfying evening meal will leave you less likely to fall prey to a late-night snack attack, too!
In general, a meal including a variety of foods from several food groups will provide the balance you need. And don't leave out your favorite foods. Work them into your meals by including nutrient-rich options alongside them. Give yourself permission to have a positive attitude toward food!
The writer is a registered dietitian nutritionist of University of California Davis Medical Center