Spoiler alert: while diets may work in the short term for some, they are not sustainable. Food restrictions make losing weight and obtaining a healthy lifestyle more challenging. Research, in fact, has shown that diets have the tendency to lead to eating disorders and obesity – and let’s not forget about the binge eating. In other words, diets create more harm than good. So, how can one make sure they do not get in this state? Well, establishing a healthy relationship with food ultimately comes down to adopting personalized habits and a lifestyle that works for the individual; however, this lifestyle change can be difficult for people if they are not 1) motivated or if they 2) do not enjoy their habits.

Below, I will highlight three key strategies I have learned through my experience as a FITRx intern to help people build healthy relationships with food and lead healthier, happier lives.

The first strategy is making sure you are actually enjoying your habits and that they are not just doable and tolerable. The reward component is such a vital part, because if you do not find any satisfaction or pleasure in what you are doing, the habit will not be sustainable. For instance, refrain from putting extreme pressure on yourself to maintain an unrealistic diet; stop only consuming foods that bring you no pleasure. Rather, choose a routine that will inspire you and make you happy. Start small and work your way up. And yes, new habits can be challenging to keep up with at first, but if you find them rewarding, overtime, I can assure you that your journey will be easier in the long run.

The second strategy is cultivating awareness around our emotions and actions – in other words, being mindful. Mindfulness allows us to be more in tune with our emotions and more connected to our inner self. It is a way to reflect on how we feel in the present moment that can steer us from falling into an unhealthy behavior.

The final strategy is developing a growth mindset.

Dieting often leaves people feeling unhealthy and unhappy with their body and this can be incredibly damaging our mindset and our perspective about ourselves. Many begin to blame the issue on themselves – that they are simply not fitness people, that their body just can't shed off those few pounds, that they cannot resist eating sweets because they are too tempting. By repeating these thoughts in your mind, you will start to believe that they are true. This mindset will impede positive growth and so we must remind ourselves that we are capable of developing skills and evolving. Our setbacks are part of the learning process, and do not define us; they are opportunities to grow.

I will leave you with one last thing. Reflect on what works for you, what doesn’t work, and what you strive to change. Rid the mind of trivial thoughts of failure and work towards growing a more positive mindset about your capability and power. Listen to your body and keep note of what foods boost your energy and mood, but also leave you feeling satiated.