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Food, Feelings and Body Image

Top 10 Tips: Food and Feelings

  1. Beginning each day with breakfast, eat three meals and between one and three snacks every day. To avoid getting too hungry, eat every two to four hours.

  2. Include one good source of calcium, a serving of protein and complex carbohydrate and some healthy fat for satiety at each meal.

  3. Give your food the attention it deserves. Sit at a table, eat slowly and make mealtimes relaxing and enjoyable. Don’t multitask during your main meals; truly taste each bite you eat. Honor your hunger and pay attention to cues that you’re beginning to feel physically full.

  4. Choose at least three servings of whole grains each day. Examples include ½ to one cup of cooked cereal or one cup whole grain dry cereal at breakfast, two slices of whole grain bread for a sandwich at lunch, one cup of whole grain pasta at dinner and whole grain crackers for an evening snack.

  5. Snack from a plate, not the box. Take time to put a serving of food on a plate or in a bowl. Eat that portion. If you’re still hungry for more, put another serving on the plate. Avoid handfuls that come out of the box or bag. Better yet, read the nutrition label and don’t purchase snack foods that come in a box or bag until food processors adjust for the trans fat. Make your own snacks from whole, unprocessed foods. They’ll be less expensive, too.

  6. Include some healthy fat at each meal or as snacks. Examples are peanut butter on toast at breakfast, tuna or other fish at least twice per week, salad oil (olive, canola, soy or other) in a salad dressing or in cooking, two tablespoons of your favorite nut for a snack, or reduced fat salad dressing with sandwiches or homemade salads. Fats serve many functions in the diet and help prevent cravings between meals.

  7. Continue or begin to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Are you more vegetable-prone or fruit-prone? Eat more of the food group you like. Some menu ideas include an orange for breakfast, an apple for snack, spinach salad for lunch, banana/strawberry smoothie before a workout, steamed broccoli or cauliflower with dinner and baby whole carrots with hummus for a bedtime snack.

  8. Eat healthy; don’t ‘diet’. Especially avoid crash diets. Your body will adjust to the reduced food intake and may even reset your basal metabolism, leading to gaining the weight back and then some. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to lose it slowly through lifestyle changes. Rapid weight loss may feel good in the short time, but usually the lost weight is water weight and that will come back quickly. Your body, thankfully, has a built-in mechanism for protecting your health from chronic dieting.

  9. Address emotions with activities other than eating. Deal with stressful situations by talking them out, taking a hot shower, going for a walk or writing about it.

  10. “Now I’ve blown it completely.” There’s no such thing as a perfect eating plan or exercise regimen. All foods can fit in moderation, and it’s OK to take a day or two off from exercise.

Body Image: Dos and Don'ts


  • Accept that bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes – this makes life interesting.
  • Expect normal weekly and monthly changes in weight and shape. Weight can vary by 1 – 6 pounds due just to changes in barometric pressure (you may weigh more on a stormy day).
  • Explore your internal self: emotionally, spiritually and as a growing, changing human being.
  • Decide how you really wish to spend your energy: pursuing the perfect image or enjoying friends, family and school.
  • Be aware of your own weight prejudice: explore how those feelings may affect your self-esteem.
  • Stop talking about food and weight all the time.
  • Remember that you can be you own worst critic.


  • Let your body define who or what you are. You are much more than just a body.
  • Let obsession with your body keep you from engaging in activities that you like.
  • Judge others on the basis of appearance, body size or shape.
  • Forget that society’s ideas about beauty are always changing.
  • Believe that all thin people are happy with themselves.
  • Forget that you’re not alone in your pursuit of self-acceptance. It’s a lifelong process many people have difficulty with.
  • Weigh yourself more than once per week.

Developing a positive body image and self-esteem can take time. Even if things don’t change for you overnight, don’t stop trying to understand and accept the wonderful person you are!

Adapted from: Entering Adulthood: Looking at Body Image and Eating Disorders.