Unfortunately, many of us experience a negative relationship between our physical appearance and food. This connection can lead to eating disorders, low self-worth, and feelings like shame, guilt, judgment, and fear.
A good relationship with food involves having an unconditional permission to eat the foods that make you feel good physically and mentally. It’s about finding a balance between nourishing your body and enjoying the pleasures of eating. No foods are off-limits, and you feel no guilt upon eating foods that are typically labeled “good” or “bad.”
You don’t have a good relationship with food if:
- You feel guilty after eating certain foods
- You think about food all day
- You avoid eating around others
- Eating in a restaurant makes you feel anxious
- You’ve tried several diets
- You experience stress or anxiety when you eat
- You have a list of restricted foods
- You ignore your body’s natural hunger cues
Tips to Help You Heal Your Relationship with Food
Mindful eating is a helpful technique that involves eating in the moment and being fully present for the eating experience
Sit down with your meal and engage all of your senses: look at it, smell it, and taste it with pure gratitude. If possible, eliminate any distractions, such as your phone, the TV, a book, etc, and focus your attention on your meal. Learning to slow down and savor the food you’re eating can help you learn which foods you genuinely enjoy and also become more in tune with your body’s natural hunger and fullness regulation.
Every person is born with the natural ability to regulate their hunger. But, as we age, we lose our hunger signals because of distractions or another number of reasons. Just eat when you’re hungry. The closer you can get back to listening to your natural hunger cues, the better you can regulate your appetite.
- Don’t punish yourself for the food you eat
Stop punishing yourself for your food choices by restricting or overexercising. Your body needs nutrients to have energy but it also needs food for the soul. You don’t have to eat clean all the time. Instead, evaluate your food choices within a week rather than a 24-hour window. When you focus on all the healthy decisions you made during the week, you’ll feel better and learn to cut yourself some slack.
Watching constantly the lives of fitness influencers and what they (show) they eat can be very harmful to your mental health. It will make you feel worse about yourself and lead to unhealthy comparisons. Try to limit how much you scroll or stop following those pages.
Don’t avoid your cravings. Allow yourself to enjoy eating foods you love. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat.
- Don’t label your food – welcome all the foods
There are no “bad” or “good” foods. It’s natural to have cravings for foods that don’t have a ton of nutrients. All foods can be a part of your healthy diet. Remember that food isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s the labels you put on it that give it power.
I know I know…it’s a lot easier to say than to practice, but eliminating your stress will help you. When you’re stressed, you’re less likely to be mindful of your eating and listen to your hunger cues.
- Move your body to feel good
Don’t see exercise as punishment or a “calorie burner”. Move your body because it feels good, not because you ate something “bad”.
Everyone’s nutritional needs and body types are different. So avoid comparing your body and food habits with others. Eat what works for you.
Your relationship with food can’t always be solved on your own. Sometimes, getting professional support is so important to heal your relationship with food.
Taking the first step to fix a bad relationship with food is scary and difficult but well worth it in the long run. Developing a good relationship with food takes time, patience, and kindness toward yourself. Allow yourself to navigate this journey without judgment, and take it day by day. ❤