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We live in a generation where society pressures us to fit into beauty standards. These beauty standards, while easily attainable by some, can wreck a person’s mental and physical wellbeing when too much emphasis is placed on it and his or her life revolves around it. Being unable to achieve those unrealistic standards or unable to maintain it can be detrimental to a person’s health.
One of the beauty standards that has run rampant for a long time, and even more so today, is being thin and the diet culture that comes along with it. A huge factor as to why it is so widely popularised is social media. In Asian countries like Korea and China, being skinny equates beauty, and content surrounding being thin is churned out left and right. From challenges like the A4 paper challenge to diets that Kpop idols do which are sometimes borderline starvation, more and more people, especially the younger audience, are falling prey as social media makes them even more accessible than ever.
Food is necessary for survival, and yet a number of people see it as an enemy. Here, we’ll be talking about food and how to have a healthy relationship with it from an extreme diet point of view.
The downsides of extreme dieting and what it means to have a healthy relationship with food
A diet by its basic definition means the food that a person regularly consumes or a regime where one restricts themselves for a reason, whether medical, health, or a lifestyle choice. The latter is what is worrying as many healthy people do it when they are looking to significantly lower their weight not for the right reasons, and do it so excessively that they damage their relationship with food altogether and their bodies in the process.
They may start to see food negatively as something that makes them put on weight and try to abstain from it, barely eating the minimal amount just to stay alive, and putting their health in jeopardy. Quite often, it leads to a rebound where people turn to binge eating and end up putting the weight they lost back on, perhaps gaining even more. Distraught by the outcome, they restart their dieting journey and it becomes a never-ending cycle.
All that should stop as we need food to survive. It is a basic instinct for a human or animal to eat, but here we are with people stopping themselves from doing so, just to be “beautiful” by society’s standards. A healthy relationship with food has become difficult to maintain. But what does it mean exactly?
A healthy relationship with food involves looking beyond the calories, a relaxed form of eating where we eat according to our bodies’ needs. No eating less or more than we need
to, no exercising more just to compensate for it, no feeling remorse after a meal. It takes a conscious effort. When you have a healthy relationship with food, eating doesn’t have a psychological control over you, food-related experiences become fulfilling, and you understand that you are not defined by your diet or how you look.
How to cultivate a healthy relationship with food and what are the benefits?
Cultivating a healthy relationship with anything doesn’t happen overnight, and with food it takes patience. Here are some things you could do to achieve it.
i. Eat regularly and accept all food in your diet
There is a reason why eating three meals a day is the norm. By eating regularly and taking in food from all food groups, it prevents you from becoming hungry, overeating, and bingeing. This regulates your body to know when to eat and when to stop. No longer will a little dessert tempt you so badly that it brings out the regret in you for eating it.
ii. Practice mindful eating
Remove distractions when you eat. Don’t watch a movie, read a book, or play with your phone while you eat. This way, you are conscious of how your body reacts to the food in front of you while you savour it and of how to identify when you are hungry or full.
iii. Seek professional help
Sometimes, the complexities that come with one’s relationship with food doesn’t give them a way out. It all comes down to an expert’s advice and support when you reach a roadblock.
The advantages to having a healthy relationship with food is endless and the best thing is once you maintain it, it becomes a habit and gives you long-term physical and mental health benefits. Not only is it not restrictive, it gives you flexibility in choosing the food you eat.
What’s more, you’ll have a more positive outlook towards your body image and be more confident in who you are as you are no longer bound by the shackles that are society’s standards.
We are not saying eat as you please and do whatever you like at the expense of your health outcomes and promoting obesity. What we are trying to say is that health can come in different shapes and sizes. Eating well and living a healthy lifestyle should be a priority regardless of how your body size or shape may be. You know you are already on a good quality diet and healthy lifestyle which is not at the expense of your mental health.
Being role models for your children
Growing up in Singapore, our grandparents or parents sometimes joke (or maybe seriously) with us that we have put on weight and that we should lose some of it. Education starts from home. If we can break this cycle and refrain from making such comments on our children’s physical appearance, that’s one step in the right direction.
Furthermore, parents are usually a child’s first role models. As you spend time together while they grow up, they may pick up habits or lifestyle choices that you make and learn from the words that you say to them. By eating healthily and in moderation, you are teaching your children to do the same. Speaking to them about how important it is to eat healthily will teach them to be mentally strong and to not fall into the trap of societal pressure to eat to be of a certain shape and size instead of for physical and mental health.
Although it is normal for mothers to put on some weight during pregnancy, some eagerly look to lose the excess weight right after childbirth. We all can admit that many of us would like to snap back into shape as fast as possible.
The fear of losing the body we once had is real. Most mummies just want to feel more normal and more like themselves again. This is not wrong, but this body still deserves respect, to be nourished and to recover well. The intention to lose weight if needed should ideally stem from wanting to be the healthiest you can be for yourself and your family, not just to attain social standards of beauty.
Therefore, expectations of your body and when and how it changes needs to be reviewed. Instead of rushing into a weight loss programme right after childbirth, you should focus on recovery and regaining your health.
Here at Tian Wei Signature, we take food and nutrition during mothers’ postpartum stage seriously and we want the best for you. Our wide range of fusion and traditional confinement meals includes staples, meat and vegetables dishes, along with confinement herbal soup, warm desserts and red dates tea that do wonders for you.
Serving postpartum mothers a confinement food menu that is breastfeeding-friendly, dietitian-guided and MSG-free, our confinement food and confinement soup package Singapore and also are among the best confinement food delivery Singapore mommies trust. So head on over and take a look at the delicious and nourishing confinement food and confinement herbal soup we offer!