Even with all of the movements designed to promote body positivity and intuitive eating, the taxing effects of diet culture are still running rampant worldwide and causing many women and men from all walks of life to continue perpetuating a vicious cycle of disordered relationships with food and eating.
But thanks to these contemporary movements in medicine, fashion, and psychology, we’re learning that food is nothing more than a substance to help us survive and deserves to be enjoyed with others. It is not a poisonous, villainous entity to be feared or controlled.
If you are someone who has feels that they struggle with a negative attachment to food, hope is out there for you to begin your healing journey. First, let’s start by learning what an unhealthy relationship with food looks like.
Signs You Have An Unhealthy Relationship With Food
The important thing to remember is that having a healthy relationship with food has everything to do with how you choose what you eat and technically nothing to do with the types of foods you eat.
Having an unhealthy relationship with food can be intensely stressful, so if anything, healing your mental associations with it is going to help you navigate life with a greater sense of freedom and happiness.
Some telltale signs that you may have an unhealthy relationship with food are:
- A history of participating in the latest fad diets
- Patterns of bingeing and restricting food
- An over-reliance on calorie counting
- Labeling foods as “bad” or “good.”
- Anxiety around eating while in social settings
- General guilt about eating
Our relationship with food is ephemeral. One day we might not think about it all, while other days, it’s all we can think about. However, the ultimate goal is to associate food with positive experiences, not negative ones.
Stop Striving For Perfection
Perfect bodies don’t exist, and neither do perfect diets. When you let go of the need to be perfect, you release the stress and anxiety you feel around decisions that perpetuate this made-up standard. If fitness gurus or self-proclaimed health coaches on social media are causing you to over-scrutinize your eating patterns, mute or unfollow them.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is essentially the practice of sitting down and eating your food without any distractions, including television, your cellphone, not even a book. This is so that you take the time to savor and appreciate your food, right down to the texture of what you’re eating.
Doing this as much as you can help you really analyze what you feel during your meals, give you a more accurate sense of what foods you genuinely enjoy, and recognize your hunger and fullness cues more easily.
Avoid Fad Diets
Whenever a new fad diet enters the internet space, you’ll eventually find yourself stumbling upon several people who swear by the diet, and bolster its quick weight loss benefits, but seldom ever have any hard scientific data to back up their claims.
Chances are that adverse health side effects haven’t even been thoroughly examined in the scientific research community yet. So instead of diving into trendy diets like keto that suggest eliminating major food groups, focus on eating foods that make your body feel good.
Seek Help From A Professional
Sometimes unhealthy relationships with food are due to underlying conditions such as eating disorders which can be tough to deal with on your own. When your issues with food stem from something more profound, speaking to a dietitian, nutritionist, and mental health professional to get to the root of your problem is the best way to get on track to authentic freedom from food.
Listen To Your Body’s Cues
Your body has a language that it uses to communicate what it needs if there’s anything wrong and if it’s feeling great. You must listen to the cues to better maneuver how you choose the foods you put into your body. If you’ve spent most of your life bingeing or restricting, chances are you’ve probably spent a lot of your time ignoring these cues.
But if you don’t listen to them, your body will need to be louder to let you know that something’s up, which could mean alerting you with unpleasant physical ailments. Learn to trust your body, not quiet its voice. It’s through this connection that you build a better relationship with food.
Attachment is what dictates many of the decisions that govern our lives, so it’s imperative we get curious about what they mean for us.
Read on here to learn more about how attachment plays a role in your life.