Tips for managing food anxiety
I believe most of us have heard about Hangriness (Being so hungry that you are angry) and in my world as a hungry person and as a Registered Dietitian, I believe Hangry should be in the dictionary. I see it over and over again, when we let ourselves go too long between meals/snacks or when we haven’t eaten enough to start with, we become emotionally reactive and sometimes… we just might say things we really don’t mean.
I work a lot with clients who suffer from anxiety and often have a hard time making in the moment decisions about food. Add to that, living in a culture that encourages “perfect” or “clean” eating; choosing the “right food” all the time becomes a daunting task.
Over and over again, I see people put off eating because they don’t know what to choose or feel like they shouldn’t be hungry yet. This results in increased anxiety and all of a sudden, choosing food becomes EVEN harder. When Hanxiety is at it’s biggest, the decision of what to eat can become absolutely overwhelming. For some people, this may mean that whatever they eat ends up being the “wrong” thing or they feel guilty about eating. And for others, the anxiety can actually decrease the person’s desire to eat. This results in not eating enough or at all (which of course perpetuates the cycle).
If you experience Hanxiety with food choices, try these 3 tips!
1. Plan your food the day before.
- Write down what you think you want to eat for meals and snacks the next day.
- The goal is not to be perfect or choose the “Best” food, but instead to have an idea in mind with what is currently available to you.
2. Remember that you always have a choice!
- If you planned to have leftover chicken stir fry for lunch, but someone in the office is ordering food in from your favorite restaurant for lunch, you can always change your mind! The planned food becomes the backup food in case you have a hard time deciding in the moment.
3. Meet with an experienced Registered Dietitian
- A Registered Dietitian that understands food anxiety can help with meal structure and timing that will help reduce food choice related Hanxiety. If you need a hand with this we can help – contact us for more information on our nutrition counseling services.
PS I have to give complete credit to a client of mine for introducing me to the term “Hanxiety”. This is not my term, but I use it regularly now.
Want to read more about balanced living? Check out these related articles by our Dietitian Calgary team:
- The 3 types of hunger
- How to make friends with food even when you hate your body
- Why your calorie counting apps and devices may be wrong
- Finding food freedom
If you are seeking support to help you feel more comfortable with your body and improve your relationship with food, Jana can help. Jana specializes in helping with weight issues, emotional eating, and recovery from a long history of dieting and weight loss attempts. Jana is a very well respected Calgary eating disorder dietitian by many psychologists in the city. She can work with you in person at our Calgary office or as a dietitian online as a personal nutritionist for eating disorder recovery such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. As a past competitive athlete and sports enthusiast she also has a passion for working with athletes. As a Calgary sports nutritionist she can help with performance eating plans and establish a healthy relationship with food to complement your goals in sport or the gym.