How Can You Have a Healthy Relationship With Food?
First of all, what is a healthy relationship with food? A healthy relationship with food involves allowing all foods in moderation, eating the foods that you enjoy and most of all, not letting food take control over your life.
The first thing that you can do to improve your relationship with food, is to give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods. Many people create food rules which dictate the types of foods they can eat, when they can eat and how much of these foods they can eat. When adhering to food rules, it increases the likelihood of developing an obsession with food, where you may think about food too often and feel out of control when surrounded by food.
Instead of restricting and depriving yourself from foods that you enjoy, think about food as something that is going to nourish your body. Always bring the focus back to eating for health, rather than eating to reach a certain weight or achieve unrealistic and unsustainable body ideals.
My next tip is all about making peace with food. What I mean by this is avoiding labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Labelling a food as ‘bad’ suggests that this food should be forbidden and excluded within your diet. All foods are available and can be included in small amounts or in moderation, even when trying to lose weight. So let go of food rules and let’s stop calling ourselves “bad” or “naughty” if we’ve eaten something that has truly satisfied us.
How we deal with negative emotions also reflects our relationship with food. A lot of us eat for a sense of comfort when feeling anxious, bored, angry or lonely. It’s completely normal. However, this is not a reason to eat, in particular overeat. It may comfort or distract us for a short period of time, but food won’t solve the problem. Eating for emotional reasons may actually make you feel worse in the long run. So, try finding an activity that you enjoy to replace the action of eating. Also make sure it’s something familiar to you, otherwise you’ll just be making it even harder for yourself.
Honouring your hunger is pretty important too. Hunger is a normal biological cue that tells the body when it needs to eat. It’s a cry for energy and nutrients. However, by ignoring your hunger for an extended period of time, your body loses its ability to sense what hunger feels like and people end up eating for the sake of it and become confused about how and what to eat. If this is you, try eating at least 3 meals a day at the same time each day. This will train your stomach to expect food at these times and it makes hunger much more predictable.
But the more you can listen to your natural hunger cues, the better you can regulate your appetite and manage your food intake, so respect when you’re hungry and when you’re full.
And I couldn’t not mention mindful eating. Mindful eating is a great way to transform your relationship with food. It involves tuning into your body and eating with awareness and being in the present moment during the entire eating experience.
It may include:
- Eating slowly without distraction
- Listening to your physical hunger cues and eating up until you’re feeling full
- Noticing how food makes you feel
Remember guys! Improving your relationship with food does take time and patience.
So go easy on yourself, be kind to yourself and work on building a healthy relationship with food without judgment.
You’ve got this!