1. Do you generally make food choices based on the enjoyment that you get from eating them?
2. Are you confident that if you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, you’ll be able to reach/maintain a healthy weight?
3. Can you leave some of your favorite food on the plate if you’re full?
4. Are you able to separate emotions (guilt, loneliness) and labels (good or bad) from food?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, some areas of your relationship with food need attention. Don’t worry—you’re not alone. Even as a nutritionist, I’ve struggled at times (and Willow has, too): I focused too much on calories and fat grams, deemed foods as “good” or “bad,” and often missed out on the overall experience of eating. But over the last 10 years, I’ve established a healthier relationship with food. Here are some tips that helped me:
Think of food as food. Remind yourself that you eat food—not calories, vitamins or minerals. Thinking of food as a whole shifts the focus to enjoyment and satisfaction.
Give yourself a break. Your food choices don’t define who you are as a person—good or bad, strong or weak, and so on. Repeat this mantra each morning: “Today I get to eat healthful foods because I choose to, not because I have to. And if I choose not do to this, I’m not a bad person—I’m just not giving my body the respect it deserves.”
Plan ahead. All healthy relationships require regular maintenance—your relationship with food is no exception. Planning meals and snacks for the week helps you feel more in control of your choices.
Respect your hunger. Waiting until you’re famished to eat can make you feel out of control when you finally do eat, which can lead to overeating and feelings of guilt. Let your internal hunger and fullness cues guide your eating; they’ll help you naturally control how much and when you eat. If you’ve ignored these cues for too long, you may need to organize a general eating schedule, at least initially. The Best Life Hunger Scale is another great way to help get you back in touch with your body’s signals.
What have you done to repair your relationship with food?