June is Men’s Health Month and a great time to review your health or talk to the men in your life about theirs! One great place to start? Nutrition!
In 2018, nearly 45 million Americans went on a diet with weight loss as a primary motivator. Still, obesity rates increased from 30 percent in recent years, to 42 percent. Obesity in American men, specifically, hovers at nearly 43 percent. This suggests that diets have been highly unsuccessful in helping men achieve their health goals.
Children and adults share similar biological desires for food, yet adults more commonly struggle with disordered eating and obesity. As children, most “diets” include whatever parents feed their kids, and many have lived by the rule “dinner before dessert.” While parents may occasionally have allowed an extra scoop of ice cream on family outings, children were encouraged to be active. As adults, people develop a more nuanced relationship with food and their bodies, incorporating rewards or punishment based on self-adherence to healthy eating rules or social norms. Somewhere along the line, some people begin to fear food and forget to treat themselves with empathy.
You can build healthy food habits by implementing some of the following tips!
Keep a Food Log
Tracking is an accountability device that can provide some insight into what foods are or are not working. Keep a food journal by writing down everything you ate for the day (drinks included), the time you ate, and your mood before and after eating. After at least two weeks of logging, you may be able to identify foods that trigger bloating, fatigue, cravings, or poor mood. You may also notice foods that make you feel your best, emotionally and physically. You might be surprised!
You will not always have to track your food. The goal is to move towards intuitive eating where you can quickly identify the foods that will be both healthy and satisfying.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
You are more likely to make healthy choices when you allow for flexibility. Aim to make healthy choices 80 percent of the time, and allow yourself some leeway for those less healthy foods that you enjoy about 20 percent of the time. When you allow yourself to enjoy all foods, there are no good or bad foods, just foods you eat more or less frequently.
Mindless eating occurs when you eat without understanding the emotion underlying the craving. Mindfulness can be practiced by eating when it is appropriate and by learning to sit with your cravings. When a craving hits, take one to five minutes to identify what you want to accomplish. Are you truly hungry? Do you want to eat for comfort? Is there a healthier option that would still be satisfying? After asking yourself these questions, it is still healthy and normal to decide to give in to the occasional craving.
Do Your Research
Food can heal and reduce the risks of developing disease. Learning the health benefits of certain foods can motivate us to reach for those foods more often. Leafy greens support prostate health, foods with high fiber help prevent colon cancer, and oatmeal aids in preventing cardiovascular disease.
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