I haven't always had a healthy relationship with food. I am not going to lie and say that it was an easy process, no....it took a lot of time and hard work to get to where I am now & like with any relationship, it takes time and hard work. BUT I want you to know that is 100% worth it!
I now get the privilege of helping others restore their relationship with food, so here are six steps that you can take to help restore your relationship with food. If you would like to know more about working 1:1 with me, please get in touch and book a free call!
SIX STEPS TO RESTORING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD.
1. Move Away from Labelling Food as ‘Good’ & ‘Bad’
Food is food. Food is an object and cannot take on a human trait such as good or bad. Of course, certain foods are more nutritious than others, but it is important to note that NO ONE SINGLE FOOD IS GOING TO IMPACT YOUR HEALTH IN ANY WAY!
When we label a food as bad it gives it an unnecessary power, which will mean you automatically put it on a pedestal. People usually label ‘bad’ foods as those that taste good but aren’t very nutritious. Once you create a rule regarding that food, the more you will crave it. In contrast when you allow yourself ALL foods, you are better able to control your intake, as you know these foods are always available.
We need to start viewing food as equal, neutral, with no food being better or worse than others, and begin to see that all food can play a part in a healthy balanced diet.
2. Stop Counting calories
Counting calories is time consuming and can contribute to a poor relationship with food as It reduces the importance of food to a simple equation and distracts you from listening to your body & eating intuitively. Instead of tracking calories, I like people to keep a note of what they are eating, which is much more helpful at identifying unhealthy patterns such as restricting/skipping meals and then overeating later on.
3. Find comfort in things other than food
Eating or not eating has become something we do as a form of masking how we truly feel. Often if we feel sad, happy, excited, nervous, lonely, stressed, or tired we can turn to food as a comfort.
But moving away from emotional overeating and instead tuning in with your body and asking yourself “am I really hungry or is something else going on?’ Of course, sometimes the only thing we want to do is eat and that is perfectly okay, just do it mindfully. Emotional eating does not have to me Overeating.
Try and think about other things that you can do instead of eating:
· Call a friend
· Play with a pet (or borrow a friends)
· Have a bubble bath
· Go for a walk
· Read a book
· Do a puzzle
· Put your favourite music on and dance like nobody's watching
· Rearrange your room
· Light some candles and watch a movie.
* Remember it probably won't happen overnight, and that is ok!
4. Avoid ‘all or nothing’ cycles
When you create rules or beliefs around food and tell yourself you can’t have them, you are more likely to crave them. Rules such as ‘I am only allowed ‘X’ once a week’ or ‘I can’t have ‘X’ twice a day’ make those foods feel ‘off’ limits.
By avoiding or restricting these foods (such as carbohydrates, fats and sugars) and trying to supress hunger by eating lower energy foods such as vegetables you are more likely to overeat later on in the day, which is likely to be followed with cycles of guilt and compensatory behaviours such as restriction or over exercising.
Eating three balanced meals + 2-3 snacks (based on your health goals) including ALL food groups, will help to restore your relationship with food, and begin viewing food as equal, and remove the power, meaning you will not feel the need to over eat, because you know it will be available tomorrow, and the next day etc.
5. Practice mindful eating and staying ‘present’
Mindfully eating involves eating in the moment and being fully present for the eating experience. This involves eating free of distractions such as looking at your phone, replying to messages or eating on the go.
Instead sit down at a table with friends or family (if possible), and utilise your senses: take in the smell, what does it looks like, what does it taste like. Focusing on the food, & mindfully eating will allow to you savour and appreciate what you are eating, help you to learn what foods you genuinely enjoy and become more In tune with your body’s natural hunger/fullness regulation.
6. Stop punishing yourself for what you ate yesterday.
You can’t change what happened yesterday, so stop punishing yourself.
Guilt is defined as ‘the fact of having committed a specified or implied offence or crime’
Eating is not a crime, nor is it an offence, therefore guilt is not something we have to feel. Dwelling on what you have eaten or haven’t eaten, only increases feeling of anxiety and stress which makes you unhappy and stops you living the life. Remember Every decision can be followed by a good one, so choosing to be kind to yourself despite what you feel is always a good idea
If you, or someone you know is struggling with an Eating Disorder or Disordered Eating then please get in touch! You are not alone.