Having a good relationship with the food that you eat is something that we all need to have. When we don’t, it can lead to health problems and either overeating or restrictive eating, as we punish ourselves for eating something that we think we shouldn’t. Eating well helps us physically, as well as mentally, and when you improve the relationship you have with food, you’ll learn that no food is ‘bad’ and that you shouldn’t feel guilty about the foods that you eat.
This is a process, and not something that will come overnight. You will need to take your time as you think about the foods that you eat, as well as the feelings that are associated with the foods that you eat. From a nutritional point of view, understanding food and the things that they contain will help you to establish a good relationship with food as well. So what are some of the first steps? Here are some things to think about.
Give yourself permission to eat
When you have a positive relationship with food, then one of the signs is that you will give yourself permission to eat. If you restrict what you can or can’t eat, then it can be quite damaging. You can deprive yourself of food and then you can set yourself up to feel bad, to binge, or to have other low feelings around food. When you’re hungry, you can eat. You need to have food to function each day, so make sure that you’re not depriving yourself of this basic human need.
Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is something that is vital in helping to repair a negative relationship with food. If you’re someone who eats on the go, in the car, or when watching TV or scrolling on social media, then you aren’t eating mindfully. You’re not thinking about what you’re doing and not listening to your body when it says that it is full. Eating mindfully is about being free from distractions as you eat, so you can focus on the food and on your body and how you feel. This can lead to eating more slowly, which in turn, often means that you eat less as you’re more in-tune with your hunger regulation.
Embrace all foods
If you have certain dietary restrictions or practice a vegan diet, for example, then you don’t need to embrace all foods. However, you can embrace all the foods that you are able to eat. Labeling a food as bad isn’t going to be healthy for your relationship with food, because then you can feel guilty for having it. When you’re not in the right headspace then it can lead to overeating and binging, as a way to feel better (although it can ultimately make you feel worse). What you should do instead is to just have things in moderation. You could also choose versions of food with more nutrients in them, such as whole grain bread over white processed bread. You’re still eating bread, but it will be of more nutritional benefit to you.