1. Reject the Diet Mentality: Seriously, just let it go. “Dieting” doesn’t work because there shouldn’t be a finish line when it comes to healthy eating. You’re in it for life. Not just the amount of time it takes to drop two dress sizes. Why is the word “diet” even allowed to have a verb form? It’s a noun, and that’s it. It’s not something that you do, it’s a part of your lifestyle. Accept, embrace, and live healthy, whole-food eating. Are your friends and family going to repeatedly ask whether or not you’re on a diet every time you eat or order a nutritious meal in front of them? Probably. Just tell them, “Yes. It’s the Diet of Life and I’m on it FOR-EV-ER.”

2. Honor Your Hunger: Are you hungry? Yes? OK then, eat. No? OK, don’t. Seems so simple when you look at it that way, but unfortunately it’s not always so easy. Honoring your hunger means listening to your body. Like, become BFF’s with it. Listen when it talks. It has so much to tell you. Learn to recognize when you’re actually, truly hungry, and then eat. Never skip meals. When you get really good at this, you’ll even start to recognize what types of food your body needs. “Feed me fruit/fiber/protein/carbs/(insert nutrient here),” you will hear it say!

3. Challenge the Food Police: The food police are those people in your life who are likely sitting on the couch munching away at a bag of processed potato chips themselves, but the second they see you eying a double fudge, chocolate-chip-chunk cookie will say, “You’re going to eat that?!!?” Challenge those people. Challenge them so hard. Grab that cookie. Eat it and enjoy it. Then take off your shirt and flash your six-pack abs of steel. Because yeah, you can have your cake, eat it (in moderation!) and keep a tight tummy too!

4. Make Peace with Food: Food is your friend. But just like you wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who is artificial and made up of mostly high fructose corn syrup, your insides would much appreciate it if they didn’t have to deal with the same. Learn to look at food as fuel. You’re not working against it, but rather with it. Healthy, whole foods will be your biggest ally in the fight to reach your happiest, healthiest self.

5. Respect Your Fullness: Sometimes our brains trick us into thinking we’re hungry when really, we’re not. Like say, that time you stuffed yourself full with two enormous plates of Thanksgiving dinner, only to find a huge Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese frosting placed in front of you moments later. Suddenly you felt surprisingly hungry again. Hmmm, I wonder why? (Because Red Velvet Cake is irresistible, that’s why.) Just as important as honoring your hunger, is being able to recognize that point when you’re tummy says, “OK, I’m all filled up. You can stop putting more food in me now!” Except for when there’s Red Velvet Cake. Then you can say, “Screw you tummy. Make more room or bust.”

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Satisfying your hunger with a big old bowl of creamy, instant Mac N’ Cheese is fleeting. Eating a big bowl of leafy greens and veggies (topped with a yummy dressing, of course) will start a love affair that is going to last forever. Feed your body wholesome foods to feel satisfied. When you’re tummy is growling, obviously your brain is saying, “Hot damn, I want a Poptart!” But the rest of your body is like, “Umm, hello?! I need vitamins and minerals and energy to work properly! Can I get some fruits and veggies over here?” Satisfy your body’s needs, not your mind’s wants. Before you know it, the two will become one in the same.

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food: Food is fuel. That’s that. There’s nothing more to it. Yes, it can be enjoyed. But it can’t be the thing that we turn to when life starts to get a little crazy. And remember, there’s no need to punish yourself for accidentally eating too much, nor should you ever use food as a reward for something. If you ever catch yourself reaching for a snack when you’re not really hungry, take a step back and scan your mind. Try to identify what it is your feeling that triggered a false sense of hunger. Was it your hatred for the Kardashians and their millions made acting like complete morons? Or maybe it was feelings of confusion over why anybody would ever eat anything other than breakfast foods? Whatever it is, honor the feeling, but never address or suppress it with food.

8. Respect Your Body: Learn to love it. It’s the only one you’ve got and the only one you’ll ever have. The two biggest ways you can show your body the respect that it deserves is by exercising and eating healthy. “If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going live?” – Unknown

9. Exercise! Feel the Difference: I know, it almost seems contradictory. But yes, moving more makes you feel good! I know what you’re thinking. How could there be anything better than lying sprawled across the couch all day while watching Mad Men? But trust me, getting up and using your body for something other than drooling over John Hamm will make you feel like a brand new person every day. Like, it’s not just a one time thing. Every time you exercise, you’ll feel as though you can take on the world with the attitude of Joan Holloway and enthusiasm of Leslie Knope. And oh yeah, once you get in the habit, it’ll start to help you make healthier food choices without you even having to think about it. How about them apples?

10. Honor Your Health: There’s nothing more important than good health. If you don’t have your health, you have nothing. Maybe this sounds silly, but to honor your health, you have to do healthy things. You have to eat healthy foods. Basically what I’ve been rambling on to you about for the past 9 points. Do you get it? You got it? Good!

[image by Carlene’s Figments]