Fix Your Bad Food Relationship

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An unhealthy relationship with food can form for many reasons. Whether your parents or caregivers are long-time dieters or have simply embraced the many messages of the billion global food industry, the relationship with food is strained for many.

In fact, disordered eating habits are more common than you might think. For example, more than 28 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives, starting at the age of five. Even if your behavior does not meet the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder, you may still be plagued by disturbed eating habits.

For example, you might feel guilty about eating certain foods or not choosing the “healthy” ones. Or maybe you limit your food intake throughout the week, and then finish throughout the weekend. This keeps them stuck in the same eating habits and habits that lead to more stress and more anxiety.

Healing an unhealthy relationship often starts with changing your mindset and your approach to food as a whole. Food is food and pleasure. It is an essential part of life and an experience to be enjoyed. If this is not the matter at the moment, you have come to the right place.

Use the following strategies to encourage self-compassion, enjoyment, and acceptance of food.

Rethink Your Food Vocabulary

Words are powerful. The more you repeat a particular message to yourself, the more it affects your thoughts, decisions and behaviors.

In a recent TED talk, neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett explains that the consumption of harmful words overwhelms your bloodstream and nervous system with stress hormones. Over time, this chronic Stress affects the wiring of your brain, which can affect the way you think and act.

Words are an important part of your relationship with food. Think about the meaning you give to terms such as “good” (to describe a fruit) compared to “bad” (to describe a bowl of Chips). Although a food can be nutritionally superior to another food (apple vs potato chips), this does not mean that it must be morally superior or that it must have a reflection on whether you are good or bad as a person.

The demonization of certain foods by this language and the meaning of these words can favor calorie restriction and other extreme forms of diet. This will only put more pressure on your unhealthy relationship with food, causing more stress and anxiety.

To start healing, work deliberately to remove words that place a moral value on food. Here is a long list of words that you may not know have an impact, but that can harm your relationship with food:

  • Clean
  • Cheating / Cheat Day
  • Splurge
  • Guilt-free
  • Can’t/shouldn’t
  • Bad
  • Mast
  • Taboo

Instead, introduce new words into your vocabulary that promote a relationship with food filled with fun and pleasure:

  • Position
  • Delicious
  • Tasty
  • Nutritious
  • Delicious
  • Refreshing
  • Focus on the mind-body connection

The concept of intuitive eating is fundamental in theory: listen to your hunger and satiety signals and choose the foods to eat. However, if you have an unhealthy relationship with food, eating intuitively can seem complicated in practice.

For example, if you have learned to deny the hunger impulse to limit your calorie intake, you may not even notice when you are actually hungry. Conversely, if you often look for food that hurts your body to cope with unpleasant emotions, you perpetuate the feeling that you cannot trust yourself.

In addition, it can be difficult to eat “intuitively” when certain foods affect your body in unpleasant ways, such as causing bloating or digestive discomfort.

That is why mindful eating and awareness are important for the mind-body connection. Paying attention to hunger signals and your food choices can help you meet your own body’s unique needs while feeling satisfied. This way of eating prioritizes flexibility and satisfaction over rigidity and restriction, while ensuring that your body is cared for.

Listening to this inner wisdom with mindfulness is powerful. Your body knows what it wants, when and how much. Part of this job is to learn to adapt to it, and then trust it.

Getting attuned to your body can seem overwhelming and Pilates and breathing work can both be helpful in this part of your healing. At Lindywell, we provide realistic and easy starting points to practice this skill.

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