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Food is a more basic need of man than clothing and shelter. It is simply the fuel for your body's growth, maintenance, repair, respiration, excretion to name a few human body activities and reproduction. Food is composed of various different kinds of substances- “the nutrients”, which when consumed in an adequate amount fulfill the body's requirements to function optimally. But how many of us do actually look at food as this simple essential need of our lives.

Unfortunately, we are either gripped with the disease of perfectionism towards controlling our food intake or on the other extreme, we tend to mindlessly and excessively consume more than the required amount. History proves food has played an important role besides nutrition only. It has psychological, healing and organoleptic effects along with the physiological effects it has on weight.

To establish a good healthy weight, it's vital that one should first develop a positive relation with food. It's very crucial that one doesn't get intimidated by food. Food nurtures you, and the moment it is used for nourishing, is when it will never clutch you.

Having understood this, how do you gauge if you have a healthy relationship with food?
• Do you go hungry for long hours.
• Do you binge eat, feel guilty and avoid eating for the rest of the day as a punishment.
• Do you feel stressed in a social do, not too sure about what you should eat and what you shouldn't.
• Do you tend to eat at a faster pace
• Do you eat more when you are stressed, angry, sad or sometimes even when you are very happy.
• You are always busy calculating your calorie intake.

These are a few signs which suggest that your relationship with food is an unhealthy one. Either you are very scared of food or you tend to look at food as an outlet of comfort. Either ways, it has an influence on your health and weight.

A few simple tricks to change this equation with food
• Keep a food diary. Write down what you ate, how much you ate, what was your mood when you ate that particular food, and how hungry were you? Many a times one tends to eat to satisfy an emotion, and not when he is actually hungry. Analyze this record after a week and identify your triggers.
• If your dairy reveals that you use food to comfort yourself, or out of boredom, make a list of non food related activities, which can calm you or keep you occupied.
• Don't punish yourself for eating something wrong yesterday by over exercising or starving the next day. Instead get back to sensible eating.
• Practice mindful eating. Look, feel and cherish. Look at your food, chew it slowly and enjoy every bite, savour the flavors and chances are you will not overeat. Also, eating mindfully, savoring each bite ensures the correct amount of digestive juices which aid in digestion.
• Enjoy eating what you are eating. Don't cloud your mind towards a negative feel about food with doubts whether you are eating right or not. A negative feel about the food will only hamper it's digestion and affect the assimilation of the nutrients.
• Let go of the need to eat perfectly at all times. It's absolutely fine to slip sometimes, so long as you get back on the track the next moment.
• Do not compare yourself with others who may be lean. This will push you to have a negative image of your body and hence can influence you relation with food. Everybody is unique and has a different metabolism. Trust your body, love your body and you will love your food in the right way. You have one life, one body- treasure it and look after it.
• No food is forbidden. Eat your favorite junk food at the time you are not hungry. This shall prevent you from overeating. Treat it as a treat, and not a meal. Treat is purely for enjoyment and not for satisfying your appetite.
• Don't keep foods that lure you and prevent you from resisting the temptation at awkward times. Instead stock your kitchen with healthy options of snacks.
• Exercise regularly even if it is only for half an hour. Exercise releases good hormones like endorphins and serotonin which help in maintaining stable moods, and thus encourage a healthy relation with food.

Our obsession with aesthetics, our fixation on ideas related to food intake and abundant but confused information about food can lead us to an unhealthy relation with food, thus, an unhealthy body. Be friend food and you shall reap the right benefits of this powerful fuel.

Author Pooja Bhargava is Founder/CEO of Fitness U and Nutrition (F.U.N.) as well as certified Personal Trainer by ACSM (American Council of Sports Medicine) and IIFA (Indian Institute of Fitness Administration), Nutrition Consultant and Physical Fitness expert.

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