Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and wished you looked different? Have you ever gone shopping and wished you could buy a smaller size? Have you noticed that you sometimes compare yourself to your friends or other women around you? If you have, you are in good company. As I have worked with thousands of women over the last decade, I have noticed that almost every one of them struggles to feel good about themselves and the way they look. And it’s no wonder! With the constant influence of media, no one can measure up to the way our culture defines beauty. Unfortunately, many of us continue to hold ourselves up to that standard. That creates a number of challenges, with one of the biggest ones being poor body image.
Because I have personally struggled with this, I know where a poor body image can lead. It’s easy to be enticed by extreme diets that teach us to drastically limit how much we eat, or to only eat certain things that are supposed to be “healthy.” As I have worked to understand the truth about my body, it’s beauty, and the way I should care for it, I have learned that those kinds of diets actually create big problems. When we look at food as the bad guy, and try to limit our calories or exclude entire food groups, our bodies get out of balance and nutritionally deprived. In the long run, these diets actually plant seeds for weight gain, binge eating, and the inability to listen to your body and its prompts.
The bottom line? Food is not the enemy. Food is your friend. Here are five reasons you should eat it to help you achieve a healthy weight:
- Your metabolism speeds up when you eat every 2-3 hours.
In the caveman days, our bodies protected us from famine by storing calories in our fat cells when it sensed a food shortage. Because our bodies are still programmed the same way, we trigger that very fat-storing reaction when we go without food for long stretches of time. Experiment with eating three smaller meals a day, and weave healthy snacks in between. This will reassure your metabolism that food is plentiful, and it can burn calories rather than store them.
- Food, especially protein, builds your muscles.
Surprisingly, it isn’t just exercise that builds strong muscles. Muscles need to repair themselves with protein each day, and because muscles are your fat-burning machinery, we want to give them what they need. (Note: you’re not going to bulk up like a body builder if you increase your protein intake! Being sure that you include some kind of protein in each meal and snack will simply create more lean muscle to burn more calories, while allowing blood sugar stabilization so you don’t get hungry as fast.)
- Eating frequently keeps you from getting so hungry that you overeat at the next meal.
Have you ever noticed how much more you eat when you are starving? By the time our brains register that we’re full, we’ve often eaten far more than we needed. Eating at regular times each day fosters a faster metabolism.
- Allowing yourself to eat food frequently alleviates feelings of deprivation.
When we restrict calories or wait for the clock to tell us it’s time to eat, we can become resentful and obsessive about food. We might overeat if we have the chance, not knowing when the next opportunity will come. By eating 5-6 times a day, we can avoid both the feelings of deprivation and the rebound effect that feeling deprived creates.
- Food is one of the joys in life.
God created our bodies to experience joy, and sometimes life just doesn’t get any better than a chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven. But equally as good is a fresh, crisp salad or ripe piece of fruit in season. The key to moderation is allowing yourself to experience the pleasure in food, when your body is asking for it, while being in tune enough to hear the cues to stop. When we are connected to our bodies in this way, a healthy weight comes more naturally.
Yes, food is your friend and will help you achieve a healthy weight. But don’t be deceived…some foods are better than others. For more tips on picking foods that will work with your body, instead of against it, be sure to check out my book – Healthy Eating The Happy Gal Way. Click HERE for more information.
How you feel about your body – and the way you care for it – are important parts of living a happy, fulfilled life. Remember, food is your friend when it comes to weight management, health, and having good energy.
Guest Post by Jenny Layton
Jenny Layton is an author, speaker, blogger, coach, professional organizer, wife, and mother of five. Whew! Talk about a tricky balance! As women, we have a lot on our plates, and Jenny specializes in helping women get it all done – starting by taking care of numero uno. Jenny has appeared on numerous lifestyle shows such as Studio 5 and Good Things Utah, and is a regular contributor on the Matt Townsend radio show. She lives in Kaysville, Utah with her husband and five children.