A good relationship with food involves having unconditional permission to eat the foods that make you feel good physically and mentally. No foods are off-limits, and you feel no guilt upon eating foods that are typically labeled good or bad.
A good relationship with food has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of your diet or the types of food you eat but how and why you choose the foods you eat and of course moderation.
When you improve your relationship with food, you will notice a lot less tension and worry about eating more food freely.
Here are the signs of a bad relationships with food:
Feel guilty about eating
Not a cheat day
You restrict yourself from food that is bad for you
You have rules against food you can eat or cannot eat
Rely on calorie counter apps
Ignore your body natural hunger hints
Feel tension or overwhelmed when eating in social settings due to fear of what others may think of your food choices
You find yourself binging food
You do not have to feel any shame, tension, guilt, or fear regarding the foods you eat. It is important to realize that your relationship with food may be momentary. Sometimes you may eat with complete freedom and not feel guilty about the food you eat and other times you may feel guilty after eating food that are not good for you.
The goal of a good relationship with food is to have positive experiences than negative ones. Showing patience and kindness toward yourself is vital.
Below, learn how to heal your relationship with food, so you can enjoy your meals without feeling guilty.
Give Yourself Unconditional Permission To Eat
One sign of a good and healthy relationship with food is allowing yourself unconditional permission to eat.
When you create rules around when you can and cannot eat, you are setting yourself up for hunger, feelings of deprivation, and fear of food.
If you overeat at lunch or have extra dessert, you still deserve to eat when you are hungry or want to. Your body deserves food no matter the day or situation.
Welcome All Foods In Your Diet
Describing a food as bad gives it unnecessary power. There are certain foods that are more nutritious than others and contributes to improved health. Eating a single food is not going to affect you in any way either.
When you label a food as bad, you automatically put it on a pedestal. People call this food bad when it tastes good and is not nutritious (e.g., high in sugar, fat, salt). However, right away you tell yourself you cannot have too much of it because you will crave more.
So start viewing all foods as equal, with no food being better or worse while eating it. Remind yourself to stop viewing food good or bad and that you deserve to enjoy all foods and it can be a part of a healthy diet. Over time, you will not feel the need to overeat it when it is around.
Honor Your Hunger
Every person is born with the natural ability to regulate their hunger. The truth is that many of us ignore our biological signals and choose to limit our food intake for fear of weight gain. Honoring your hunger - is often easier said than done. Especially when you are already used to ignoring your hunger signs.
You see this with children, who can easily tell when they are hungry or full. As people age, they begin to lose this ability for a number of reasons.
Despite your parents’ best efforts, how often did they tell you to clean your plate? Their intentions were good, this told you as a child to ignore signs that you were full or eat until you were told you that you were done.
Currently, people have been taught to rely on apps or personal trainers on how many numbers of calories to intake throughout the day instead of eating until they are satisfied. It is better to listen to your natural hunger signs, this will help you regulate your appetite and manage your food intake.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating has become the cornerstone of fixing a bad relationship with food. It involves eating in the moment and being fully present for the eating experience. Learning to slow down and savor the food you are eating can help you learn which foods you genuinely enjoy.
When you eat mindfully, eat without distractions like no phone, TV, books, etc. Ind doing this you are taking the time observations, such as the taste and texture, and your enjoyment of the food. Definitely, need to have a dedicated space to sit.
Above all, be careful about your thoughts. This can help you identify the reasons for your food choices. Are you eating because you are starving and will eat anything in sight? Do you want to eat the food because you think it will make you feel better emotionally or physically?
Take a deep breath, the key is to answer these questions without judgment and instead with a curious mind. Let them pass. Over time, these observations can help you identify the reasons for your food choices.
Mind Your Plate
Imagine a life in which you do not have to justify your food choices to yourself or anyone else. Most people are regularly giving themselves or other people an explanation for their food choices. For example, “I need ice cream because I had a bad day” or “I will have a salad for dinner because I did not have time to go to the gym today.”
Instead of giving a reason for your food choices, allow yourself to eat food that you feel is best for you at that very moment.
Your relationship with food is personal, unique, and requires regular work to keep it healthy. It might seem impossible to fix your bad relationship with food, it is possible to get to a state in which food no longer controls you and instead fuels your overall well-being.
Keep in mind that food is not essentially good or bad. It is the labels you put on it that give it power.
A healthy relationship with food means welcoming all foods with no off-limits but how and why you choose the foods you eat and of course moderation.
Taking the first step to fixing a bad relationship with food is frightening and challenging it will be worth it long-term.