How to reestablish a healthier relationship with food
Have you ever watched someone that doesn’t seem to have any food hang ups, follow a weird diet and seems to feel comfortable in their own skin with their size and wondered to yourself, how do they do that?
If you have struggled to figure out the simple yet very complicated question “what should I eat?” you are not alone. With so much conflicting information and opinions about what you should or should not eat, it is now more exhausting and overwhelming for many of our clients to confidently understand how to fuel themselves.
For the many clients we see in our nutrition counselling practice that hate their body, have a disordered relationship with food or have spent a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, food is often perceived as the enemy. The good news is that you don’t have to struggle. We see people each and every day in our office begin the journey to reestablish a healthier relationship with food and move towards their personal best weight.
WATCH Andrea’s Facebook LIVE on this topic:
The common struggle with a poor relationship with food and your body
I brainstormed with our team of dietitians at Health Stand Nutrition Consulting the most common food and body relationship issues and negate beliefs we observe for our clients. Do any of these resonate for you?
- The number on the scale today will determine what and how much I am allowed to eat.
- I feel stressed about eating. I watch other people eat and wonder how they find joy and pleasure when I see food as the enemy.
- I feel shame and judgement if I eat ice cream or chips in front of others.
- I am only allowed to eat when and if I have exercised today.
- I am always second guessing my choices and have forgotten what it is to eat “normally.”
- I get anxious if I have to eat in front of other people or at places where I don’t know what is in the food.
- There must be something wrong with me that I barely eat and still struggle with my weight.
- I am a careful eater and avoid eating until I am full or satisfied.
- I have lost touch with knowing when I am hungry or full since I have been stuffing or starving myself for a long time.
- I have so much noise in my head about eating and my weight that I miss out on many social things and life opportunities.
- I see food as good or bad and eating as all or none with no middle ground.
- I hate my body and I know life will be better if I could only be smaller.
How to nurture a healthy relationship with food
Rekindling a healthier relationship with food and your body is no easy task, but the good news is if you don’t like how you feel right now you can change that. Here are some strategies from our dietitian team to begin learning to rekindle loving kindness for yourself:
- Learn to trust others until you can trust yourself
Feeling better about food and your body takes time and support from an experienced dietitian with the right philosophy and approach to not only healthy eating, but also experience in emotional eating, disordered eating and behavior change. Often times we have done our best work and moved our clients through change faster when we can also refer our clients to a trusted psychologist with experience in these areas as well.
Often our clients have so much anxiety, fear, guilt and shame about food, eat sporadically and approach things in an “all or nothing” way. Many of our eating disorder clients and chronic yo-yo dieters have acknowledged that recovery began to improve when they began to trust us blindly first to lead the way. Trusting your dietitian to initially drive the answers to the questions about which foods your body needs and the portion sizes required for good health is the best way to learn to trust yourself.
- You are worthy of eating no matter what
Before working with us many of our clients use the number on the scale to decide what and how much they are going to eat today. As we begin working with a client on repairing their relationship with food, our clients begin to see that external factors do not have to have power over addressing the internal basic need to eat.
Regardless of what you weigh, how much exercise you did today or how badly yesterday went, you are worthy of nourishing your body for health and energy. Honor and respect your body with enough nourishment to live your best life. Eating is a basic need, not a reward.
- Start with mechanical eating before moving to intuitive eating
While many of our clients want to be intuitive eaters that allows them to make flexible choices and to listen to their hunger and fullness cues, it is often hard to trust these cues without first resetting what, when and how much to eat on a basic level. In our practice we first focus on mechanical or structured eating with three meals and likely snacks in between. We also help our clients understand portion sizes and achieving nutritional adequacy, stopping dieting behaviors, obsessive weighing and unnecessary food restrictions.
In time, we helps people begin to distinguish hunger and fullness cues to move towards true flexibility and intuitive eating.
One Final Note…
There are no good or bad foods. Food is just food. Learning to eat fully is about finding the balance between both healthful foods as well as soulful foods chosen for fun, taste and enjoyment.