The relationship that we have with our families, friends, co-workers, significant others and teammates are all different, yet loving. Dieting became fashionable in the early 20th Century. Forty-six percent of women and twenty-two percent of men in North America are currently trying to lose weight. The relationship that we have with food can sometimes be complicated. Eating three meals daily can be one of the most intimate conversations that we have with ourselves.
For the athlete, food needs to fuel, yet it contributes too many emotions such as, pleasure, comfort, sadness, anxiety and stress. We use food as gifts, in times of being social, and as a reward. Many food industries have contributed to and molded some of our relationship with food. Since they have introduced the ease of the fast food restaurant, food carts outside the office, online grocery chains, "diet foods", bodybuilding foods, and energy drinks, we have been forced to think that food is the answer to everything.
Too much food as well as following a diet may actually contribute to weight gain. According to Haines & Neumark-Sztainer 2006, in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, "dieting is associated with increased food preoccupation, binge eating, and eating in the absence of hunger. Furthermore, dieting appears to be causally linked to both obesity and eating disorders."
Female Athlete Triad
Sports and exercise are a large part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Those who play sports are healthier, and are less likely to experience depression. But those who play sports and exercise so intensely may become at risk for a problem called female athlete triad. Female athlete triad is a combination of three conditions, disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis.
A female athlete can have one, two, or all three parts of the triad. Some women who experience the female athlete triad try to lose weight as a way to improve their athletic performance. The disordered eating that accompanies this can range from avoiding certain types of food she thinks are "bad", all the way to having eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
Make Peace with Food and Practice Mindful Eating
The average person and the athlete both must learn to find a healthy balance between getting the nutrition that the body needs as well as enjoying the daily meal. Try to offer a sense of gratitude for all meals. When you allow your body to eat with awareness, you truly can experience a place of inner calm. We all must learn to enjoy the experiences surrounding eating rather than just the food itself.
Stay Focused to Stay Slim
Overeating and weight gain may be the most significant health problem caused by mindless eating. The mind-body connection plays a pivotal role in our ability to assess the difference in hunger and fullness. When the mind is not "tuned in" to the presence of eating, the digestive process can become less effective. This may contribute to gastrointestinal distress, such as gas, bloating, irregular elimination or even weight gain. Set aside 15 minutes or longer, three times daily for meals. Sit down, take a breath and ask yourself about your hunger level. Pay attention and enjoy all the tastes, textures, sounds, juiciness, and thoughts that arise.