We’ve all got a unique relationship with food, one that shifts and changes depending on where we are in our lives. You might be a student who lives on nothing but pizza and pot noodle, or a gym bunny who has to check the protein content of everything they eat, or (more likely) something in-between.
However you feel about food, at some point, you’re bound to fall into a rut. It happens to all of us. A diet takes over our life to the point where we can’t enjoy the flavour of a meal for worrying about calorie content. Our job gets so hectic that food becomes little more than fuel. We fall into a routine of cooking the same meals day-in-day-out, never trying anything we haven’t had a hundred times before.
If any of this sounds familiar, don’t fret. Changing your relationship with food might not be easy, but it can be done. From fresh meat delivery to ditching the diets, it’s time to find a way to make you fall back in love with food.
Listen to your body
Explore how different food makes you feel, regardless of the received wisdom about them. For example, we all know that avocados are supposedly an amazing health food; good for the heart and full of vitamins and fibre. But how do you feel after eating them? Ready to take on the world, or ready to eat something else? Your body is unique, and what works for some isn’t guaranteed to work for you.
This goes for junk food lovers as well. We all like to indulge from time to time, but think about how different takeaways and snack foods make you feel. Maybe the occasional chocolate bar is just what you need to see you through a busy Thursday afternoon, or maybe ten minutes after eating it you feel like a sluggish, greasy mess. Our bodies have ways of telling us which foods work for them, so make sure to listen.
Don’t make strict rules
About anything; yes, anything. Unless you have a diagnosed food allergy, no food should be off limits.
It’s true what they say: we want what we can’t have. If you have forbidden yourself from having dairy, carbohydrates, chocolate etc, then chances are you’ll crave it like nothing else. Moderation is fine, but being overly strict with your diet is just as unhealthy as being overindulgent. It doesn’t make you healthy, or happy, or superior to those people having a Big Mac for lunch; it just makes you miserable.
Loving food is all about eating what you know you’ll enjoy in the moment. Allowing yourself a cheeky biscuit in the evening isn’t going to lead to you eating the entire pack in one sitting. It will lead to you having a normal, healthy relationship with food, where happiness is the name of the game.
Food isn’t moral. It’s fuel. Ordering a plate of fries doesn’t make you a bad person.
It’s ridiculous to hold the eating of some food to be morally superior to the eating of others, but we’ve all done it. We’ve all chastised ourselves for ordering a dessert, or felt the need to make a fuss because we’ve had a slice of cake. And diet talk makes it worse, declaring some foods to be ‘dirty’, and certain ways of eating to be ‘clean’. It’s nonsense, but it’s dangerous nonsense. While we all need to be conscious of what we eat – shaming and feeling a sense of self-loathing can often lead to eating disorders that are much worse than the calories involved in that initial treat.
High quality ingredients
Eating well starts with good ingredients. You simply can’t make a tasty dish out of bland ingredients and flavourless vegetables. If you’ve been disappointed with the quality of the ingredients you’ve been getting from your local supermarket, then it’s time to look elsewhere. Go to a greengrocer for your fruit and veg; a fishmongers for your fish; a chocolatier for your sweet treats. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to the flavour of your meals.
One ingredient above all others is essential to get right, and that is meat. If you’re a carnivore, meat is likely to be the star of most of your meals. A tough steak, dry chicken or watery meatballs can therefore spell ruin for an otherwise promising dinner.
The solution is fresh meat delivery. Companies like the Dorset Meat Company let you get delicious, ethically sourced meat delivered right to your front door whenever you need it. All their meat comes from free range, 100% grass fed animals from 20 small, family run farms in Dorset and Wiltshire, meaning it is full of natural vitamins and minerals, no nasty chemicals, and is by far the greenest way to get your meat.
Create your own meat box full of the cuts you love, or choose a pre-constructed one, like the Full English Breakfast Meat Box or Student Survival Meat box. All are prepared by master butchers, and all will help you fall in love with meat again.
Give yourself time to eat
We all know the value of a little breathing space. Whether it’s reading a book, watching an episode of our favourite TV show, or taking a bath, a little you time at the end of a day is an important part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. So let’s make eating an act of self care too.
Eating mindlessly, while you’re distracted by something else, is no way to enjoy food. If you can, give yourself time to prepare, cook and eat the food you love at your own pace, without rush or distraction. Take pride in what you’ve made, and pleasure in how it tastes.
This stands for fast food as well. After all, what’s the point in treating yourself to a takeaway if you’re not going to take the time to enjoy it?
Learn your body’s limits
You don’t need to eat until you feel so full you are ready to burst; just until you’re no longer hungry. There’s a big difference, and once again the secret is listening to your body.
When you’re full, you feel sluggish, bloated, and ashamed; when you’re simply no longer hungry, you feel satisfied and contented. This is how you should feel after every meal, otherwise food can become something you resent for making you feel bad, rather than something you know you can enjoy because it will take away your hunger.
If you regularly eat until you can’t take another bite, you should ask yourself why. Chances are you’re not hungry for the food itself, but for a feeling or comfort it once brought.
Know that nutrition is a state of mind
Healthy eating isn’t just about what you eat. You can eat nothing but skinless chicken, brown rice and vegetables, and still be an unhealthy person. Why? Because your relationship with food would be unhealthy.
A healthy food relationship, like all good relationships, requires love. You need to eat the food you love, honouring both your body and your taste buds. Choose the foods that make your body feel well, and that you enjoy eating, otherwise eating becomes at best a chore, and at worst an ordeal.