Leading Harley Street Nutritionist, Rhiannon Lambert discusses how to build a healthy relationship with food:

Our bodies really are as unique as our personalities. Each of us should strive to find a way of eating that works for us individually. I believe in empowering everyone to embrace a healthy way of living through the food we enjoy and the life we lead. There’s always a new diet to try, a new food trend that claims to have spectacular health benefits, but the truth is, it really doesn’t have to be that complicated.

Ultimately, one-size does not fit all and there is no ‘correct diet’ that works for everyone. Our focus should instead be on the nutritional value of food, not the calorific content. I believe that if we take food and eating back-to-basics, we can all have a healthier relationship with food.

Mindful eating

In the busy lives that we lead, it becomes easy to grab food on the go, or quickly eat it at our desk whilst staring at the computer. However, this is a pretty un-enjoyable way to experience eating. I want to encourage individuals to become mindful of the food they are eating and to be more aware of the flavours and textures of the food that they are nourishing themselves with. This way, we can appreciate more of what we are consuming and be left feeling a whole lot more satisfied once we’re finished.

When I talk about mindful eating, I am referring to a technique that is suggested to have many benefits including; helping to reduce the urge to binge and helping you to feel more relaxed around food. Mindful eating helps you to recognise your emotional and physical sensations around food. Research has suggested that it may help with symptoms of anxiety and depression and also be a useful tool for those who suffer with eating disorders.

This way of enjoying food requires us to eat slower, with little distraction, listen to our hunger cues, appreciate the food, engage our senses to notice the smell, taste, colour and texture of the food, and learning to eat to maintain overall health and wellbeing. These things will allow us to replace automatic thoughts with healthier responses to food.

What not to do

Binge-eating, emotional-eating and/or eating in response to cravings, can often lead to feelings of guilt and ‘uncomfortableness’. This can have a detrimental effect on your relationship with your diet. Mindful eating can help tackle this. It can also help you cope with built up stress levels. Stress has been suggested to lead to unhealthy binge episodes. By changing the way you experience meal times, potential negative feelings that may be associated with eating can be replaced with awareness and more positive emotions.

Health and happiness

Building and maintaining a healthy relationship with food can be extremely important for our physical and psychological wellbeing. There is so much more emphasis put on what we weigh and unfortunately this encourages us to focus more on the number on the scales, as opposed to the status of our overall health; something that cannot be measured by weighing scales. It is time that we stepped off the scales, because why should a number decide whether or not we should feel good about ourselves? In order to feel comfortable in our own skin, we need to stop looking to a number for approval.

It is not often that one steps on the scales and feels satisfied, so why put yourself through the stress and anxiety of what it brings? Feeling healthy and happy needn’t be associated or measured by numbers. Being aware of the calorie content in food has long been drummed into us as a must for getting healthier — and to be used as a guide to what can and can’t be eaten. However, calories aren’t much more than a number and we shouldn’t be relying on calorie content to dictate what constitutes a healthy diet. Calories can be deceptive and very damaging when used inappropriately.

I believe that in order to look after our body properly we need to respect it. See food as nourishment and something that affects both your mind and body. Only then can you start developing a healthier relationship with food.

Rhiannon’s four principles for a healthy, active lifestyle

Respect
You and your body deserve the best, so make it a priority to see eating as an opportunity to nourish. If you treat your body right, it will treat you right.
Re-hydrate
The human body is actually about 60 per cent water; so it makes perfect sense that we need to keep our levels topped up. Too many of us are simply not drinking enough.
Refuel
Don’t waste your time being active without properly refuelling your body with nutrition. You really can’t train your way out of a bad diet. Check out our Healthy Energy Balls recipe, here, for a little inspiration.
Recover
Recovery encompasses more than just muscle repair. Recovery involves restoring your chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system, mental state and so much more. Don’t ignore your body when it needs to be rested.

By Rhiannon Lambert, rhitrition.com

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