What story does your food tell about you?

Tell your food story on Sunday April 27, 2014 – National Tell a Story Day!

When you step in a restaurant, it is not uncommon to see flashes going off as customers upload pictures of their plate to their favorite social media sites. As we near the end of April, we find ourselves getting closer to National Tell a Story Day, April 27, 2014. Whether your Instagram is full of food pictures or you don’t know what Instagram is, your food tells a visual story about you.

The foods we choose, in the pictures we take, are based on what we are craving. Sometimes the more unhealthy choice will win. Why do we get the fried chicken over the grilled salmon? Why do we order ice-cream for dessert? Why is the more unhealthy choice the picture you want to take?

Food choices can be caused by several occurrences in the body. In the brain during food cravings, the memory areas can link the certain food to a reward. Emotions are the main cause for food cravings. Stress and anxiety are the main emotions to flag or signal food cravings. We also imitate others, so if everyone is having a sweet treat, then we are more tempted to grab a treat as well, so we don’t feel left out. Carbohydrates, fat and sugar are known to have a calming effect. The most addictive foods are known to be bread, pasta, donuts, cake, chips, cookies, chocolate, fries, candy and ice-cream.

How to reduce food cravings?

  • Reduce portion sizes. Choose a snack size candy bar or a half slice of pie instead of the regular size.
  • Swap out lower calorie snacks. Choose the low fat or low calorie version of the food. Choose diet soda instead of regular soda. Choose homemade kale chips instead of potato chips.
  • Have healthy snacks prepared ahead of time to avoid going to fast food restaurants or through the drive-thru.
  • Wait until the cravings pass. Most cravings go away in 20 minutes. Drink a full glass of water or chew sugar free gum to help curb cravings while waiting.
  • Choose an activity when cravings hit such as exercise, reading a book, getting pampered at the spa or at home.
  • Do not deprive yourself of a certain food or you will crave the foods more. Cut down on portion size or how often you eat it.
  • Use stress reduction techniques such as breathing exercises or thinking about fun memories.

How do we reinvent our visual food story?

  • Create recipe cards of healthy foods or snacks. Include a picture to help spark your cravings.
  • Choose the healthier version or choice at the restaurant instead. Most likely you will feel better at the end of the meal.
  • Use pictures of healthy foods to help spark ideas for recipes.

You can always reinvent your food story. What does your food story say about you?

Michigan State University Extension offers nutrition education classes for adults and youth about healthy food choices consumers can make. More information can be found at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/nutrition.

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