What’s eating you, and what are you really hungry for? Our relationship with food can be complex. It’s the fuel we need for our physical bodies to function, yet it plays a much larger role in our lives. Food also has a symbolic role and can be used to comfort, reward, or celebrate.
For many of us, special dishes are an important part of traditions and rituals. Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries often involve rich and satisfying spreads of food. The expression comfort food describes the pleasure we experience when eating a high-calorie treat or enjoying familiar dishes that make us feel nostalgic and nurtured. Many of us reward ourselves with food for accomplishments—a special meal out or a sweet dessert, even when it’s counterproductive, as when celebrating a weight-loss or exercise goal.
Of course most people know and understand the value of fruit, vegetables and why we should limit our intake of certain foods. Yet for many of us, going up one clothing size on a too frequent basis is becoming routine.
The complexity of our relationship with food is why many traditional diets fail. If it was as easy as simply eating nutritious food in appropriate amounts and exercising more, North America would not be a world leader in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
Consider this: In Canada, deaths from chronic disease are rising and the likelihood of being diagnosed with one of these conditions increases by 14% each year. If you think you’re not affected, picture five of your friends, coworkers or relatives in light of this statistic, also from the Public Health Agency of Canada: for every five Canadians 20 years or older, three already have a chronic condition of some kind and four are at risk of developing one. Poor eating habits are a major contributing factor.
Food should work for us, not against us.
It is possible for food to taste good and be good for us. If you are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, as the saying goes, consider this often overlooked resource: the dietitian. They have the training, scientific knowledge and counselling skills required to tailor a plan for you that will work. Here’s how they can help make a difference:
- Guide you in reducing your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 60% (if you are currently at risk)
- Customize a plan to improve dietary behaviours associated with good health that you will enjoy
- Help you decrease body weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Despite the fact that it’s good for us, we often avoid seeing a dietitian because we:
- know it won’t be easy
- imagine we don’t have time
- feel we might be judged
- think we can do it ourselves
- don’t want anyone to know
- see food as our best friend
- believe, despite all our abundant rational sense, that one day we’ll magically wake up and be healthier
The elephant in the room is that while we all might like the idea of improving our health, (imagining how great we’ll feel and how much more energy we’ll have), few of us willingly take the step forward.
The choice is always ours. No one can make another person develop better habits, and feeling forced by someone else can trigger a resistance response that arrests all our progress. We need to want to do it.
Some of us are lucky enough to ride the wave of good health for many years despite bad habits, and so feel invincible to health scares. Look ahead. See that strip of sand? It’s the beach. Sooner or later we will hit it.
But here’s a secret: you have someone on your side who understands all this.
If you’re hungry for better health, pants that feel comfortable, more energy for your family, or a brain that does not go into fog mode in the middle of the afternoon, there’s someone out there who gets it. The registered dietitians accessible through your employee assistance program are on call to help you.
What have you got to lose besides a few pounds, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high glycemic levels? Make the call and reduce your chance of adding to the statistics.