Developing a Better Relationship with Food - Beautiful Eats & Things

Developing a Better Relationship with Food

How’s your relationship with food? It’s a good question to think about! Signs that you might have an unhealthy relationship with food include feeling guilty about the foods you eat, hiding food, or food restriction. Signs of a positive relationship with food include listening to your natural hunger cues, enjoying foods that you love without guilt, and not feeling the need to justify your food choices. My hope is that you have a better relationship with food after you read this article. I’ll walk you through a few tips below to help you in the process. 

Developing a Better Relationship with Food

Developing a Better Relationship with Food

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Removing “good” and “bad” from the conversation

Describing foods as “good” or “bad” has become a common thing that we do often without even thinking about it. But it’s possible that this sort of language can cause some of us to have a negative relationship with food and our bodies. Remember, your food choices do not determine your worth as a person.  

Developing a Better Relationship with Food, people unhappy with their food

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Aren’t we supposed to follow a healthy diet?

We definitely know the importance of having a healthy, nutritious diet to help prevent chronic diseases. The fact is that a “healthy diet” can look different for different people. A healthy diet for someone with IBS or kidney disease could look very different for someone with type 2 diabetes or heart failure. It’s important to understand what works for me may not work for you or anyone else. And that’s ok. 

While it’s ok to eat foods that satisfy our mental state, general nutrition education is important for helping us to understand how foods work within the body. 

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. Fiber rich carbohydrates help control blood sugar levels and help lower cholesterol.  

Protein is needed to help repair cells and to build new ones. It’s important for growth and development especially in children, teens and pregnant women. Protein is needed to maintain muscles, bone and skin health. 

Fat provides energy and is essential to absorb vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. It’s needed for brain development and blood clotting. Fat also provides insulation and helps to keep us warm.

Developing a Better Relationship with Food, people unhappy with their food

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Even the Dietary Guidelines for Americans doesn’t strictly cut off added sugars and saturated fats (which can come from some of our favorite comfort foods). The Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting added sugars and saturated fats to no more than 10% of total calories. Some foods are even associated with childhood memories, like cooking in the kitchen with mom or grandma. These feelings are OK and we shouldn’t feel guilty about eating these foods. Of course these foods also shouldn’t take up the majority of our day. There’s a healthy balance to achieve.  

Tips on having a good relationship with food

Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating means being fully present for the eating experience. Take the time to enjoy your food while you are eating by limiting distractions. Turn off your cell phone, TV,  or any other devices. While you are eating you’ll want to think about the taste and texture of the food. Are you feeling full yet or are you still hungry? These are important questions to ask yourself.

Think of no food as off-limits. Studies show that severe calorie restriction can result in binge eating. When we think of no food as off limits it’s more likely that you won’t even crave that food. At least not as much as you think. 

Avoid the pitfalls of “food rules”. While diets and patterns of eating like keto and intermittent fasting might work well for some people, it’s important to realize when it is not a good fit for you. The trouble with certain diets is that they can cause food fear, feelings of deprivation or guilt if you “break the rule”. These are not positive feelings and if you experience any of these it’s time to reconsider what you’re doing.  

Developing a Better Relationship with Food, people unhappy with their food

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Pay attention to hunger cues. You might remember being told by your parents growing up that “you can’t get up from the table until you’ve eaten all your food”. While I don’t want to encourage food waste, and I understand the sentiment, this isn’t necessarily the best thing to do if you want to have a good relationship with food. Hunger recognition is a stress-free way to achieve energy balance and studies have shown that it can help manage weight and insulin resistance. 

It’s ok to get help. 

Food can get complicated. Especially if symptoms are present from known, or unknown conditions. Just know that there is nothing wrong with getting a little help if you need it. A healthcare team including your doctor, a dietitian, and therapist could be just what you need if feelings are getting out of control. 

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