My relationship with food has deteriorated and affected how I view food.

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I am currently a college student. Throughout the past year, my relationship with food has deteriorated gradually and has greatly affected how I view food currently.

With a brand new mindset and back to a healthy weight, I have a few questions as to how I can better my relationship while maintaining my weight. Although my relationship with food is still on rocky waters, what are some meals I can make in order to maintain a healthy intake of nutrients? Are there any tips/advice I could use in order to better my food relationship?

Thank you in advance for taking the time out to respond to my questions, I greatly appreciate it!

First congrats on getting to a healthy weight. That can be a challenge in college whether living in a dorm, apartment, or at home. Meals may be eaten on the run, eating what is handy and filling not necessarily healthy. The first tip is to eat before you are hungry or about every 4 to 6 hours.

I would ask what your relationship with food is? Was it related to why you ate that caused the weight gain like the stress of college or an eating disorder? If you are recovering from an eating disorder, I would highly recommend continued therapy which you may be able to find support for on campus.

No matter the reason as you can’t change the past. Let the past go. How about setting yourself up to succeed in the present and future which you can change?

I suspect that you are referring to the mindset that a person gets in when they gain weight thinking they have to diet to lose weight and somehow deny themselves the pleasure of food. That is not true as you can eat any food in moderation. Or are you thinking of the mindset you had during weight gain where comfort eating helped you get thru a day? Food is meant to nourish you. It is fuel for your body and helps your body function at it’s best Your body needs basic healthy foods – meat, whole grains and starches, vegetables, fruits, dairy and healthy fats. An occasional dessert won’t derail your healthy eating plans so don’t beat yourself up.

Having some healthy guides as a framework around you can set you up to succeed. Here is a list of 10 tips for healthy eating. Try 1 tip for 21 days, then try another tip for another 21 days while you continue following the first tip. Add a new tip every 21 days until you have tried all 10. This should provide a framework for you to succeed.

Determining what a moderate serving size is may need some guidance. Have you tried my HELP Healthy Eating for Life Plan®? HELP will create a personalized eating plan for you based on your choices of milk or not, meat or not, beans or not and snacks or not. HELP is your roadmap for making healthy choices as there is a small food database from which you can plan ahead what you are going to eat i.e. menus. Then you can use foods in your menu to grocery shop. Remember to shop after eating so you don’t buy impulse snack foods. Plan ahead what you are going to eat to set yourself up to succeed. If you are unsure how many calories to eat, first try my Healthy Body Calculator® and choose to maintain weight.

Other factors in maintaining a healthy weight at college may be affected by whether you eat in a college cafeteria or cook for yourself. Most college cafeterias post their menus online.  Decide what you are going to eat before you go to your dorm cafeteria. Stick with an entree, side dish, salad, dairy, and fruit for dessert. Something sweet will turn off your appetite. Eat slowly as it takes 20 minutes for a message to get from your stomach to your head that you are full.  Talk to your tablemates rather than looking at your phone.  Be mindful of what and how much you eat.  If you pause while eating, that may be a sign that you are full so push your tray away.

If you are cooking for yourself, do you have roommates that can share the cooking food shopping responsibility? Yeah not everyone is a cook or has an interest in cooking.  In my home, whoever cooks doesn’t do the dishes.  It seems to be a fair trade-off for non-cooks. If you cook for yourself, definitely plan menus for school days and shop for a week’s food on your day’s off. That way, your food environment is supporting your goal of maintaining your weight.