There’s a reason most people who lose weight through dieting eventually gain it back. It’s because their relationship with food was unhealthy. After all, an unhealthy relationship with food is what leads to unhealthy eating habits. Conversely, a healthy relationship with food leads to healthy eating habits.
The key to a healthy relationship with food is to go back to the very beginning—restoring the relationship we had with it when we were young; before we ever obsessed over our weight, counted calories, did keto, or whatever the new diet trend happens to be. Instead, we listened to our bodies and not a restrictive diet plan. We enjoyed good taste without guilt, knew when we needed to eat, and intuitively stopped when we were full.
We were much more free of concern, food deprivation, food restrictions, binge eating, and all the things that happen when our relationship with food is unhealthy.
Let’s liberate ourselves again.
5 Simple Steps to Restoring a Healthy Relationship With Food
- Listen to your body i.e. eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full—Mindful eating gets you into the habit of listening to your body and not some random diet. The idea is simple. When your body tells you it needs food, eat. When it tells you it’s had enough, stop.
- Eat what you want—Overthinking food and limiting yourself only to certain foods is one sure way to get what we’ll call deprivation syndrome. Basically, the more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you want it. That’s just plain psychology. After enough deprivation, you eventually cave and end up going overboard on that thing you’ve tried so hard to avoid. However, you could’ve had a much smaller amount at the time you wanted it.
- Eliminate distractions and savor every bite/sip—Sometimes you find yourself doing a million other things while you eat: watching tv, talking on the phone, checking emails, etc. Half a box of pizza later, you realize that maybe you could’ve stopped two slices ago if you hadn’t been so distracted.
- Address your emotions—Whether it’s a bad day, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, low self-care, or depression, our emotions can translate to poor eating choices and habits. Emotional eating is real. Addressing problematic emotions can, therefore, translate to better choices and habits. This cause/effect relationship of addressing your emotions not only applies to food, but to all aspects of life.
- Appreciate and apply nutritional benefits—Appreciating and applying nutritional benefits can mean several things. It can mean following doctor’s orders to eat foods that help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level. It can also mean eating foods that help boost your mood, ease your anxiety, or provide a good source of protein. The main concept is that there is more to food than calories. They happen to have various benefits for the body and mind. Being aware of this will help you view food from a much broader lens—much broader than the narrow view you get from restrictive dieting.
Free at Last
All of these points should liberate you and redefine your relationship with food—restoring it back to what it once was. Instead of seeing food as the enemy, you will start to see it more as a partner; there to help you live life positively in mind, body, and soul.