Could our obesity epidemic have a lot to do with our overall attitude towards food? The average American eats more calories per day than people in any other country, with the obesity rates standing at 34 percent compared to 15 percent in Europe (despite their high consumption of bread, cheese and wine). It could be that we simply eat cheaper food that’s worse for us. Choosing fast food and processed items for most meals, Americans have very few cultural attachments to food and lack both, a national dish as well as any real, healthy food traditions.

With obesity costing America $147 billion in health care costs each year (that’s roughly 10 percent of every dollar being spent on health care), it’s time you took stock of your ‘fooditude’.

Fooditude: You Obsess Over Food
It’s no secret that as a nation, we are preoccupied with food. From being afraid of it, hating it and over-analyzing it, we rarely, if ever, just celebrate it. Constant experimenting with different diets, sometimes extreme ones, has made us view food with a kind of fear and fascination. We don’t see food as anything more than a way to refuel our bodies, counting calories to calculate how much mileage we’re getting.
Quick Fix: Stop talking about food in ways that make you anxious and neurotic. Surrounded by people who do this all the time? Shift the conversation politely to other topics, or engage them in unrelated activities such as meeting at yoga class, a music concert, or going for a long walk.

Fooditude: You Focus On The Wrong Things
Labeling foods as good or bad is not only silly, it also leads to a cycle of deprivation, followed by overindulgence. Forcing ourselves to eat salad while craving a chocolate bar, sets us up to binge the moment there’s a crack in willpower.
Quick Fix: Eat the foods you love in small amounts regularly to avoid binge-eating, and choose the best quality there is. A piece of premium dark chocolate is better than a whole pack of cheap candy.

Fooditude: You’re Unaware Of Patterns
It’s easy to follow a fad diet, and go back to your old ways soon after. This happens mainly because your mind and body are not prepared for the drastic changes you’re putting them through. Regardless of the fad you’re following, you tend to deprive yourself, then overeat. This is followed by regular bouts of guilt and self-doubt, a pattern you may be overlooking.
Quick Fix: Learn what your weaknesses are, if you track your eating habits. Keep a food journal and record the amount, time and type of food you eat every day. After about a month you will start to see when you are most affected by cravings, what your food triggers are, and what foods make you feel a certain way. Use this information to get rid of, or replace certain unhealthy habits. For example, if you realize you tend to want something sweet with your morning coffee, you can keep a piece of fruit with you instead of reaching for that muffin.

Fooditude: You Take It For Granted
Being blest with abundance could mean that you often ignore how lucky you are to have access to good food. You don’t celebrate the act of eating anymore, preferring instead to dine at your desk at work, in the car while driving, or more often while watching TV or checking email.
Quick Fix: Join family, friends or colleagues whenever possible for a meal, eat it sitting down, and savor the food. Prepare home-cooked meals whenever possible, so you have control over the quality of food you’re putting into your body.

Fooditude: You Lose The Delicate Balance
Many of us eat large chunks of red meat, load up on refined carbs and drink processed sugary drinks for the bulk of our meals. This not only upsets the balance of our internal landscape, it affects our minds in the long run.
Quick Fix: Incorporate meat, carbs and dairy into your diet in small doses, and load up on fresh vegetables and whole fruit. Try going meatless for one day every week, and eat more fish. Small changes can have a profound effect on your overall health.

Break the old cycle of losing and gaining weight, and be kind to yourself. Life is a feast, so stop being afraid of food, and use it instead to nourish and nurture yourself.

Read More:
Emotional Balance: Why Is It Important And How You Can Achieve It
Parenting QA: How Do I Keep My Teenager From Eating Junk Food At Friends’ Homes?

Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.