Have you ever wondered how it's possible to have a good relationship with food? Does it seem crazy to think it's even attainable for you after everything you've been through with food?
To start evaluating your relationship with food, answer the following questions: 1. Are there certain foods I don't allow myself to have because they are deemed "bad" or otherwise "off-limits"? 2. Do I obsess about the "bad" or "off-limits" food? 3. Do I feel guilty if I have a "bad" or "off-limits" food? 4. Do I often feel I can't control myself when I am in the presence of my favorite "bad" or "off-limits" foods? 5. Do I plan my week around a "cheat day" where I indulge in all the foods I love? 6. Do I get thrown into a downward spiral and the "all-or-nothing" mentality when I indulge in an unplanned "bad" food?
If you said YES to any of the above, it is likely you fall into the 99% of people who could stand to benefit from intentional work on this. There are many contributors to an unhealthy relationship with food, here are a few: 1. your family's view on food, particularly how the females in your family see food and eating. 2. a skewed understanding of the power of food (i.e. one indulgence leads to significant and lasting weight gain) 3. weighing yourself daily or multiple times per day 4. consistent dieting and abstinence from specific foods for non-health related reasons (i.e. not having cheese because cheese is "fattening" vs. not having cheese because you're lactose intolerant) 5. bingeing on junk food or "bad" food and then feeling like junk 6. eating to heal or deal with specific emotions 7. rewarding yourself with food 8. past eating disorder 9. attaching deep meaning to your food choices about your worth (i.e. I have no self-control and I am just pathetic because I can't stop myself from eating pizza when it's around)
How to have a healthy relationship with food in 8 steps: WARNING: THIS LIST IS LONG. This ish is hard, but life-changing. 1. understand it takes time. Just like in a relationship with someone who has hurt you, you need to understand and process why you feel the way you do and what has contributed to your conflicts with food. Dig deep and do your best to understand why things are the way they are. 2. have an appropriate understanding of what kind of power food has. One meal CANNOT make you fat and one good meal CANNOT make you skinny. It's the cumulative effect of many meals and choices. 3. understanding what the feedback the scale gives. The scale is nearly worthless. It has to be in the same place on the floor to be accurate, does not reflect lean body mass vs fat mass, or account for water retention from a salty meal, etc. Seriously SO many variables. 4. have an understanding of what is realistic for fat loss/gain. When you start a fad diet, you're losing a majority of water weight and slight fat mass, and when you have a meal out (i.e. a burger and fries) it's much higher in sodium which is going to mean water retention, not fat gain. Realistic fat gain per WEEK, if you were off the rails, would maybe be around 2-3lbs? Realistic fat loss per week is .25-2lbs per week. 5. know there are no foods "detrimental to weight loss". No ONE food is going to make you blow up like a balloon when eaten on occasion. That's not a thing. Do your banana thing, have an apple, eat those fries. A suggestion is to aim for 80% healthy food and 20% of food that contributes to your mental health, like wine and pizza. Take that recommendation and find what general breakdown works for you! 6. stop dieting :) Don't cut your carbs, or eliminate things. STOP DIETING. It only adds to the unhealthy relationship with food and makes things more difficult in the short term AND long term. *if you have weight to lose start tracking your food. Add veggies to your day. Increase the number of meals at home each week. Limit your drinks when you go out and focus on making a healthy choice most of the time. Occasionally, when it's emotionally or situationally significant, indulge in something you enjoy. Know that it's there whenever you want to have it and is not the only time you'll get to indulge. Plan for your next healthy meal so you're back to your regular routine sooner rather than later. Move a little each day. Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Yes, it's that simple. It's not easy, but it's not complicated. 6a. ditch the "last supper mentality" that comes with dieting - it's when you think I'm giving up pizza so I should probably get it in while I can! and then proceed to eat your weight in pizza, feel guilty, stick to your new plan of no pizza forever for 23 days and then start the cycle all over. It is unrealistic to expect yourself to give something up for the rest of your life, so stop trying.