How to Eat to Live

If you struggle with overeating, have an unhealthy relationship with food, or feel that you “live to eat” instead of “eat to live,” you may be ready to make one or more positive lifestyle changes that will have you thinking less often about food. To adopt the mentality of “eating to live,” you can start practicing healthy nutrition habits, exercise regularly, and engage in more of your favorite activities.


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    Determine why you currently practice the “living to eat” mentality. Do you eat out of boredom? Do you enjoy indulging in certain junk foods? Do you practice emotional eating? Determining the root cause of why you live to eat can help you along the path to eating to live.
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    Improve your nutrition by eating more healthy, whole foods, and fewer sugary, fatty, and processed foods. Sugary, fatty, and processed foods often contain chemicals and preservatives that can throw off your body’s natural hormonal balance, and trigger cravings.[1]
    • Consume a higher amount of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, leafy greens, and healthy fats to eliminate cravings for junk food, desserts, and other fatty foods.
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    Find new ways to manage stress, or eliminate stressors from your life. Stress causes your body to release higher amounts of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that disrupts your body’s hormonal balance and triggers cravings and overeating. Coping with stress effectively can also help eliminate problems associated with emotional eating.[2]
    • Start practicing yoga or deep breathing, exercise regularly, listen to relaxing music, or engage in similar activities that can prevent you from becoming stressed.
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    Get more sleep on a nightly basis. Getting too little sleep and not feeling rested on a daily basis will disrupt your hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, and lead to overeating and poor food choices, respectively.[3]
    • Go to bed earlier every night, and improve your sleeping environment as best as possible by eliminating light and noise, and by sleeping on a comfortable mattress and bedding.
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    Exercise on a regular basis. Exercising regularly can naturally help improve and regulate your body’s insulin levels, which may be high if you have type 2 diabetes or indulge frequently in processed foods, or foods high in sugar and fat. High blood sugar levels can trigger cravings, and contribute to the “live to eat” mentality.[4]
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    Take a break from engaging in activities that revolve around food. In some cases, you may have developed a “live to eat” mentality as a result of engaging in activities that strictly revolve around food. For example, if you usually visit a food buffet or happy hour every week to enjoy pizza or chicken wings with your friends, suggest engaging in a new activity that doesn’t involve food, such as shopping or hiking.
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    Work with a nutritionist, dietitian, or healthcare provider to learn more about how nutrition can affect your overall health and livelihood. Sometimes, gaining a better understanding about how certain foods, chemicals, and preservatives affect your health can help steer you toward “eating to live.”
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    Experiment with trying new, healthy foods and ingredient swaps. Eliminating junk foods and introducing new foods and flavors to your diet can help you forge a healthier relationship with food, and can naturally help reduce cravings for junk foods. For example, cook meals using olive oil instead of butter, use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and flavor your meals with natural herbs and spices instead of using table salt.[5]
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    Spend any free time doing your favorite activities that don’t involve food. If you typically live to eat as a result of chronic boredom, pack your schedule with fun activities that can help keep your mind off food. Read more books, go shopping, spend more time with friends and family, or dive into a personal project you’ve been putting off.
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    Make an appointment with a therapist, psychologist, or similar professional who can help you conquer problems with emotional eating, if necessary. Sometimes, mental health professionals can work with you on becoming healthier so you can focus more on eating to live, instead of living to eat.


  • When transitioning to healthier eating, don’t fully eliminate all your favorite snacks and desserts from your diet, since doing so could worsen cravings and result in setbacks. Instead, limit yourself to smaller portions of these foods on a daily basis until you’re ready to cut them out of your diet completely.

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Categories: Nutrition and Lifestyle Eating | Diet & Lifestyle