Having a good relationship with food isn’t something you can achieve overnight. This is likely something that you’ll have to work on your entire life — just as you’d work on a relationship with your partner, or friend. During this journey, just remember to be KIND to YOURSELF!!
Let’s first begin by identifying some of the signs of a bad relationship with food:
- You feel guilty about eating.
- You avoid or restrict foods that are “bad” for you.
- You have developed a long list of foods you can and cannot eat.
- You rely on calorie counters to tell you when you’re done eating for the day.
- You ignore your body’s natural hunger cues.
- You have a history of yo-yo dieting, or following the latest diet fads.
- You find yourself restricting and/or binging food.
The goal of a good relationship with food is to have more positive experiences with food than negative ones. Showing patience and kindness toward yourself is most important!
Try these tactics to help build your relationship with food:
- Eat when you’re hungry: Diet culture has taught people to rely on an arbitrary number of calories to tell them when they’re done eating for the day instead of eating until they’re satisfied. Listen to your own natural hunger cues.
- Welcome all food into your diet. Ascribing a food as ‘bad’ gives it power; you immediately put it on a pedestal. Experts say that contrary to popular belief, it’s quite rare that you’ll always want cookies or cake. When you allow all foods into your diet, you’ll notice that your cravings forcertain foods start to diminish.
- Mindful eating: Probably the most important thing is to be fully present for the eating experience! Get rid of your cell phone, and other outside distractions. This also includes the TV or even a book. Savoring the food you’re eating can help you learn which foods you genuinely enjoy, understand why you’re eating and also become more in tune with your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues.
While you eat, try thinking about the following to help you stay in the ‘moment’:
- What flavor and texture am I noticing right now? Do I like it?
- Do I really want it?
- Does this food hit the spot? Does it satisfy the craving I’m having?
- How is this food changing my appetite? Do I notice my hunger going away?
- How do I emotionally feel while I eat this? Does it bring me joy, guilt, anger?
- Was I actually hungry? If not, why did I decide to eat (e.g., emotional eating, cravings, boredom)?