Healing Your Relationship with Food
Did you know you are in a relationship with food? It’s a long-term commitment that your body depends on. Just like relationships with people, this relationship can be unhealthy. Healing your relationship with food depends a lot on understanding how this relationship developed.
Food is a huge part of our daily lives. It gives you the fuel to reach all of your goals. It also plays a huge role in culture and social norms. A healthy relationship with food is one where you love food for how it fuels your body. When you are using food for something other than fueling your body, you can run into an unhealthy relationship with food.
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship with Food
When evaluating your relationship with food, ask yourself these things:
- Do you feel guilty when you eat?
- Do you rely on calorie counters to tell you when you’re done eating for the day?
- Do you wait as long as you can before you start eating?
- Do you feel stressed when you eat with other people?
- Do you feel out of control when eating?
- Do you eat to calm yourself down when stressed?
- Do you make your body feel sick in the name of celebration?
If you answered yes to any of those questions then you might want to do some mindful thinking about healing your relationship with food.
Emotions Attached to Food
Food is not all about fueling your body. That is, however, the reason you should love food! Your body does powerful things and keeping it properly fueled allows you to do amazing things in your life. You may also find that you love food because of the emotions that you have attached to particular foods.
When you are feeling sad, do you eat comfort food? Comfort food is sometimes food that we ate when we were younger or on holidays. These foods have good memories attached to them. Eating these foods brings us back to a comforting place.
Comfort foods aren’t bad! It’s just important to recognize their place in your life. Sometimes comfort foods cross a line where they are no longer fueling your body but a way to escape stress.
After a stressful day of work, you may think that picking up a pizza will make you feel better about your day. If you feel out of control or desperate, then perhaps the pizza isn’t what your body needs. You may have been looking for a way to destress. Later you may feel sick from eating so much pizza. This is your body telling you something.
The pizza is also stopping you from developing healthy responses to stress.
How Culture Affects Healing Your Relationship with Food
When it’s time to celebrate, what do we do? We eat! Celebrations across cultures always have food involved. Sometimes this includes drinking and plenty of desserts. This is not bad, but it’s one reason why we eat certain foods.
This can be a problem if your body feels sick after eating dairy or if you are working on your relationship with alcohol. Foods your culture celebrates are not always the foods that fuel your body best.
Social pressures can influence how we fuel our bodies. It’s just another thing to be aware of so that you can stay in control of your body and what you eat. Make sure you are eating foods that make your physical body feel good. Don’t eat something just because it will make your friend feel good.
After all, there are plenty of ways to celebrate. When you move your focus from the food you may find you’ve been missing out on other traditions.
Food in Relation to Nutrition and Health
When choosing your meals it’s important to keep in mind your health. However, if you look at food and first think of its caloric content, then you will need to address that when healing your relationship with food.
When you look at food, you should see fuel. You shouldn’t feel fear or stress. Educate yourself on nutrition, and then find your favorite healthy foods and celebrate them. If your friends are eating ice cream and ice cream doesn’t make you feel your best, say no.
You can decide not to eat something without feeling fear and stress. When you do feel stress from food, you can address it and make sure that it isn’t pushing you to make unhealthy choices.
Mindful Eating While Healing Your Relationship with Food
Have you ever eaten an entire package of cookies without even thinking? If you were to stop and ask yourself why you were eating the whole package of cookies, what would you say?
When you sit down to eat, ask yourself why are you eating this? The healthy answer is because you are hungry. If the answer is because you deserve it or because you are stressed then you need to work on healing your relationship with food. Rewarding yourself with food is not healthy.
You should eat to fuel your body. Not because you worked hard or because the food makes you think of your childhood. When you eat to take care of your body, you will start healing your relationship with food.
When you are hungry, you need to honor your body and eat. Your hunger cues are your body’s way of telling you that it needs more fuel. You shouldn’t feel stressed when you feel hungry.
Mindful eating involves slowing down and thinking about eating when you are eating. It’s recognizing the emotions you feel from food. Eating slowly gives your body time to tell your brain when it’s full.
Staying in tune with your body while you eat is the biggest step to healing your relationship with food. You have to slow down before you can make sure you are eating to make yourself physically feel good.
Trusting While Healing Your Relationship with Food
Have you ever sat down to eat and felt like you needed to explain what you were eating to somebody?
“I’m eating a salad because…”
“I’m eating cake because…”
“I’m eating a lot because…”
You are eating to fuel your body and you don’t need to have a reason. Choose what you believe your body needs at that moment to feel its best. There is a lot of nutrition advice you can get from just about anybody these days. Don’t let yourself get caught up in judgments from other people.
You will learn to trust yourself. Once you get used to making the best decisions for yourself, you will soon trust yourself to keep doing that. The fear and stress come from not knowing what is best for yourself and also not listening to your own body. Take the time to get to know your body and what makes it feel its best.
Once you trust that your decisions around food every day will have your best interests in mind, you will be healing your relationship with food.