Improve Your Relationship With Food in 4 Simple Steps

Creating a healthy relationship with food

When you see food as fuel for your body and cells, you appreciate it in a healthy way. But if eating makes you feel guilty, it’s time to reconsider your relationship with food.

The truth is that you don’t have to live in a constant cycle of food anxiety. You can learn to appreciate food without dieting or restrictions.

Signs You Have a Toxic Relationship With Food

Having an unhealthy attitude towards food is stressful. For example, when you label some foods as off-limits, you create a cycle of judgment, guilt, and cravings. Here are some signs you may need to reconsider your outlook on food and dieting.

  • You judge certain foods as “good” or “bad.”
  • You experience anxiety after eating foods that otherwise bring you joy.
  • You feel pressured to achieve physical outcomes (like weight loss). You blame your enjoyment of food for not meeting them.

If you’re ready to put an end to anxious eating habits, try these four easy steps.

4 Steps for a Healthier Relationship With Food

1. Reflect on your current food mindset.

First, take a moment to assess your feelings about food and eating. Do you feel guilt or anxiety when food is served in social situations? Do you eat until your plate is clean even after you’re full? Do you consider how, when, and why you consume food?

Be wary of your outlook on dieting and eating. If food is a way to self-soothe rather than a way to nourish, it becomes unhealthy. It’s important to be cognizant of why you make your dietary choices.

2. Learn What a Healthy Relationship with Food Looks Like

Next, educate yourself about how to have a healthy relationship with food. Here are some things to strive for:

  • Give yourself unconditional permission to eat what brings you enjoyment. You can enjoy anything in moderation.
  • Listen to intuitive hunger cues rather than external cues to know when to eat. It seems simple to say “eat when you’re hungry.” But many people ignore natural hunger cues which can lead to over and under-eating.
  • Choose foods that make you feel good after you’re finished eating. Fruits, vegetables, and healthy meats fill up your body and benefit your mind. So, you will naturally gravitate towards these. But remember, you can enjoy any food in moderation, and you never need to justify why you choose the food you want.

3. Eat the Rainbow

There are downsides to being a picky eater. When you get into repetitive eating habits, you tend to only focus on a limited group of foods. This makes you hyper-focused on only eating when there are foods you prefer. You may end up overeating or missing out on key nutrients.

Yes, eat the foods you enjoy, but don’t only eat the foods you enjoy.

Let go of rigidly defined rules when it comes to eating. Push yourself to eat more variety. Be willing to step outside your preferences so that food has less power over you.

The key to a healthy diet is flexibility. Fad diets fail because they’re too constricting and we can’t maintain them over time. So next time you’re stuck in a situation where your preferred clean food option isn’t served, live in the moment. No single food changes your health or weight. Healthy eating is about patterns of behavior.

4. Practice Mindful Eating

Registered dietitians suggest mindful eating as an alternative to dieting. Mindful eating means finding a balance between intuitive eating, moderation, and being present.

Pay attention to intuitive hunger cues. Studies suggest this is a more effective way to maintain a healthy weight.  Avoid distractions like television while consuming food. This will help you slow down and savor the moment.

Your long-term relationship with food should be fulfilling and sustainable. Be reflective of your attitude towards food and simplify things by eating intuitively. Disentangle your emotions from your eating habits and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

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