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Redefining Your Relationship With Food for a Healthier You

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Redefining Your Relationship With Food for a Healthier You

Jan 27, 2014

It’s important to have a good relationship with food; we all know this. But for a lot of people, “diet” can be a dirty word. So how do you go on a diet without actually going on a diet? Registered dietitian Julie Metos tells you some tricks on how to stay with an eating plan from start to finish and also gives suggestions on how to merge it into your daily schedule for the long run. She also talks about finding the right way to redefine your relationship with food that best fits you.

Episode Transcript

Scot: Changing your relationship with food, that's coming up next on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Scot: For a lot of people, diet can be a dirty, four-letter word, and actually I believe the person I'm talking to right now would say the same thing that diet is a dirty, four-letter word. We're talking with Julie Metos, Registered Dietician at the University of Utah. Let's talk about changing your relationship with food. What does that mean?

Julie: Well, like you said, diet is the ultimate four-letter word and even though I'm a dietician, I really think it's important that people have a positive relationship with food. We tend to do better with change if we think of it in a positive direction rather than talking, and feeling, and telling ourselves what we shouldn't eat.

Scot: Like a restrictive sort of thing, yeah.

Julie: A restrictive sense, who wants to do that? I mean, if I think about not eating M&Ms all day what do I want to do?

Scot: Eat M&Ms all day.

Julie: Go and buy a whole full-pound bag right? So, I like to think about it as telling your brain to tell yourself what to do. How to make changes that are kind of positive and having some of the behavioral kind of psychology in there. So, maybe you tell yourself, "I really want to do this for myself," not because it's my 10-year reunion, or because my husband might like me better. You want to do it for yourself. And there's a reason you want to do it, because you like yourself, and because you want to make yourself feel better
And it turns out that people only do things that help them feel better. If something causes stress, or pain, you push away from it. So, what you want to do is think of it in a positive way. And another great tip is to not set a date that you're going to go on a diet but rather to start right now, right this second, right this minute doing things that you think might help you feel better with your food. Do it so you can have more energy for your kids, so you can be more upbeat. People really do find that if they eat better that they're psychologically healthier. They kind of want to go to work, they want to exercise, and they want to do the things that are health based anyway. I think that's a great way to start.

Scot: So, if you don't use the word diet what word do you use?

Julie: Well, dieticians have all different cute ways of saying this so we don't say diet. We say things like eating plan, your healthy lifestyle way of eating, but really we just whatever you want to do, just call it the way that you eat, Julie's Eating Plan. Anybody's eating plan, my own personal way of eating.

Scot: Yeah, and then can you have some of those treats then, once in a while under your philosophy?

Julie: Yes of course, because really if you don't you're just going to become such a restrictive eater that you're going to boomerang. Right, so you want to fit in some of the little treats every day. I once worked with a dietician that ate ice cream every day. The only trick was that she ate one spoonful. But it helped her get through the day with, and she was saying, "I get to have whatever I want every day, my favorite food." So, if you want to have your favorite food everyday, great. It just has to be little tiny amounts.

Scot: All right. Let's talk about how do you even start something like that because to some extent you still have to take portion sizes into consideration, and stuff like that.

Julie: Yes, there are some basics, and so it's great to maybe write down a couple goals per week. So, maybe the very best way that the research says to start is to write down everything that you eat. So, you'd write down everything you eat for three days. You have a look at it, and you think like a scientist, and you say, "Wow, that's super interesting. I eat a candy bar every day at 2:30." Instead of saying, "Oh, bad me," bang yourself against the wall, your head against the wall, get really frustrated with yourself, you say to yourself, "Huh, fascinating. I'm must be tired then. I must be hungry then. Maybe I should have an apple in my desk drawer."
Common sense strategies but you're being nice to yourself when you're saying it. You're not beating yourself up. You're kind of problem solving day-to-day, and I bet you can do this without even paying anybody to help you. You can kind of do it yourself.

Then the next day you say, "Huh, I had the apple in my drawer, but I didn't eat the apple. I still went and got a candy bar. Hmm. Interesting. I must not like apples. I better try something else," and so you can kind of problem solve your way along.

Granted, you still do have to have a little motivation right? Because you kind of have to get motivated enough to eat the apple. But it turns out if you do that for about a week you might have a habit set for your life. You could, if you really tried. And maybe if you plan something that you have to do at 3:00 so you can't walk over to the vending machine, all these little strategies, you're just kind of playing with yourself, and changing your healthy behaviors one little step at a time. We really find that works the best.

Scot: So, my goal, tell me if this is reasonable, my goal this, actually my new year's resolution was to drink more water and eat more fiber.

Julie: Hey, that is really good. That's really good because it's very specific, right? The only thing you could do is you could put a little metric on it right? So, how much water and how much fiber? So, how much water? Maybe you go for eight to 10 glasses a day, or like I say to myself every time I walk by a drinking fountain I'm going to get a drink of water.
With fiber you might want to go for like 25 grams per day. I bet you anything, if you're like most people, you're at about 10 to 15. So, you're going to say to yourself, "Okay, I'm going to put a little food diary together for a few days, look up the fiber content of the foods, see where I'm at, and then I'm going to try to work up to 25 over the next three months." Here's a tip:
don't do it all at once. Painful.

Scot: That's what I've heard.

Julie: Okay. So, just a little bit at a time throughout the next month and you should be able to adjust.

Scot: So, specific goals sounds like it's important as well.

Julie: Specific.

Scot: Any final thoughts on changing your relationship with food for a healthier you?

Julie: Keep it positive.

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