How to Develop a Healthier Relationship With Food
When it comes to your overall relationship with food your thoughts matter more than you might realize.
Whether you think of food as off-limits or consider withholding it a punishment, any negative thoughts you have about food play a role in your daily life. And, in our diet-crazed and image-obsessed society, a negative mindset can lead to a downright toxic relationship with food.
When you catch yourself thinking negatively about food, remember how those thoughts harm the relationship you have with the food you eat to fuel your body. Since our inner dialogues around food matter so much, here are three toxic thoughts you should be aware of.
1. “I’m not allowed to eat [Insert food here].”
Barring any dietary or medical restrictions, telling yourself that certain “bad” foods are off limits is a sign of an unhealthy relationship with food. Food isn’t good or bad on it’s own — it’s the quantity and frequency that can lead to health issues.
Trying to stick to a strict diet isn’t a recipe for success. Just look at the simple conclusion from this study on the effect of deprivation on food cravings: “Converging measures of craving indicate that deprivation causes craving and overeating, but primarily in restrained eaters.”
Enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, because telling yourself you aren’t “allowed” to have them isn’t a good long-term solution.
2. “I’ll reward myself with food!” or, “I’ll punish myself by withholding food.”
If you regularly view food as a reward or a punishment, you could be heading toward an overall unhealthy relationship with food.
Using food as a reward can easily turn into a binge-eating session, especially if you also deprive yourself of that food often. Eating less, not eating, or depriving yourself of a favorite food as a “punishment” will only make you feel worse while reinforcing the idea that you did something deserving of punishment in the first place.
3. “If I eat [insert food here], I’ll feel better/happier/less stressed.”
We love giving emotional significance to our food, and sometimes it’s for good reason. Fondly reminiscing about a meal with loved ones featuring grandma’s famous pecan pie recipe is great way to practice gratitude and appreciation.
However, emotional eating can signal a more negative relationship with food. It’s a difficult pattern to break, too. Eating sugar and fat releases opioids in our brains (the same active ingredients in highly-addictive narcotics like heroin and cocaine).
The first step to battling this tendency is to recognize what triggers it — a certain activity, like coming home from a long day at work? Do you find yourself reaching for snacks when you’re stressed or angry or sad? You should also read this article from Psychology Today, which will help you understand why you “eat your emotions” and how to stop.
Soon enough, you’ll be enjoying a healthy and happy relationship with food.
We help our clients develop appropriate relationships with eating and nourishment. Contact us today!