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Eat, Love, Live

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Having a loving relationship with the food you eat is part of a physically and mentally healthy life. Learn to love what you eat and be sure it loves you right back. Diets don't work and neither does self-denigration or obsessive compulsive eating behavior.

It is not just what you eat but how, when and why that are important to your health and happiness. Variety, freedom of choice, and enjoyment are essential to a lifelong approach to food. You eat to be satisfied, cheerful and full and to feel good in your own skin. Get rid of what "weighs" on you. Our food habits' infrastructure is the quality of love in our life and the lifestyle we lead. Eating is not a cure for loneliness, personal dissatisfaction, or lack of purpose. Over eating can produce unwanted weight but so does procrastination, aggravation, resentment, depression, and boredom.

Take this quiz to determine where you stand now and what needs to change. Circle your answer in either Row A or B.

Your Food Relationship Quiz

Row A: A Diet Victim
or
Row B: A Fitness Thinker

1A. I am a member of the clean plate club.
1B. I stop eating the moment I feel satisfied.

2A. I am susceptible to outside influences regarding food.
2B. I listen to inner body cues of hunger not outside lures.

3A. Do I deserve to eat what I want?
3B. Do I want what I am about to eat?

4A. If I eat rich, sugary, fatty food, do I feel guilty?
4B. Am I hungry and what will satisfy?

5A. When I overeat, do I compensate by doing without or eating only what I "should" eat?
5B. Will I feel deprived if I don't eat what I'm craving?

6A. I weigh myself often.
6B. My weight is not my primary goal -- it is muscle, energy, fit, and feel.

7A. I judge food as either good or bad.
7B. Does what I'm eating taste good?

8A. I carefully map out everything I eat.
8B. I enjoy eating and am conscious about it.

9A. I count calories -- intake and burn during exercise.
9B. I focus primarily on how exercise and food make me feel during and after.

10A. I battle with will power and self-control.
10B. Rules don't work in long run. I want to be happy and satisfied.

Determine if you reside in row A or B. Make note of the top three changes you would need to make to kick the diet habit and live a life of food appreciation.

There is only one good diet -- a negativity diet. Limiting the names you call yourself and the
criticism you feel will do more to take off weight than self abuse and rigid strictures.

The eat, love, live feeling-based action plan is simple. Follow these eight steps:

1. Drink your water. Your body can't always distinguish between dehydration and hunger. The recommended eight ounces that so many people dread helps flush toxic build up, increase energy, and can be a mood lifter as well.

2. Consciously determine if you are hungry for food. If emotion is driving a craving, food won't take care of it for you. Food takes care of a hungry stomach, not a hungry heart or underused brain. It can't fix feelings or be your companion or lover. And if there is someone you would like to chew out, not even rare meat ripped from the bone will satisfy. If you are bored, tired, sad, lonely, or glad, cry, yell, take a nap, take a walk, self-soothe, listen to music, talk with a friend, or shout "halleluiah," but don't make food a soft substitute for meeting your needs.

3. Don't graze first, and think later. Reverse this order. Check with yourself that the food you want is an insider feeling and not an outside persuasion. Don't be coerced by someone offering or pushing food, something you see in a window, on a shelf, or while watching commercials.

4. Do a pre-eating exercise. Drink a glass of water, oxygenate by breathing deeply and slowly five times, stand up and stretch for a full minute, walk into another room then back, dance, or just step outside.

5. Develop tastes for protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and when hungry, think first to see if anything in these food groups would satisfy.

6. Take whatever trouble is necessary to fix or buy exactly what you want to eat. Become a gourmet eater -- your every morsel should be delicious.

7. Dish out small portions and pause -- if you desire more, replenish.

8. CHEW slowly -- savor the taste. Give your brain the opportunity to register your food consumption and your digestive system an opportunity to work at its optimum.

Thoughts to chew on:

1. You don't have to eat the fortune cookie to get the fortune. Focus on loving and living. Food is important but not as important. Eat when you want, what you want, and for only as long as you want it.

2. You must waste food. Your body is not a garbage dump. You won't solve world hunger maltreating your body by eating past your need and desire. "Wasting" what you don't want or need may waste money in the short term but is an investment in your own health long term and ultimately money saved.

3. Two for one is not a deal if you eat them both. And if what you want is obtainable in mega-sized containers only, eat only what you wish and throw out the rest.

4. The only reason to eat is hunger. Feed your heart, brain, and soul what they need. Food is not the answer. You may need to stop procrastinating, develop better sleep habits, and do more hugging and hand holding than eating.

5. You are your own mirror -- never exit without having something good to say to yourself.

6. Do stop weighing. Salt intake and your amount of muscle are part of the picture. Weighing can alter what was a good mood and drive you to deprive yourself or overeat from feeling discouraged.

7. All meals should be happy meals. Make all of your food time satisfying and at least some of your social contact time not food based.

Our relationships make us what we are -- fulfilled or empty, happy or sad, productive or reduced capacity. One of the most important relationships is with your self and another is with food. Personalities and problems affect all areas of our life from bedroom to boardroom to dining room. Your feelings about body image help determine the quality of both work and play. And your love of life or lack of it impacts success at work and way you treat your body as well.

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