Have you ever felt like you couldn’t stop thinking about food, the amount of calories you’ve eaten, or exercise you’ve completed?
Ever felt shame, guilt or fear before or after meals?
The pursuit of health and culture has promoted a “thin ideal” and created a tricky dynamic with control over food intake to reach a certain body image. This fine line between seeking a healthier lifestyle and developing a tenuous relationship with body and food is hard to decipher.
Some people struggle with their relationship with food and have disordered eating tendencies, while others will have a severe condition warranting diagnosis and treatment. Clinical diagnoses are categorized by the DSM-V which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. These disorders interfere with everyday life with the means of restricting, compensating, purging, or overeating food.
One approach to managing and confronting disordered eating is Intuitive Eating. This approach aids the individual to face the fear and shame placed around food, exercise, and self with the purpose of trusting oneself again.
Here are 5 Tips for Improving Your Relationship with Food:
1. Avoid having food rules or restrictions:
Unless you have a medical reason behind food rules, these rules can create unnecessary boundaries and stress around food intake that does not need to be present. If you have food rules, consider why you have established these rules and if they are hindering your relationship with food in any way.
2. Find movement you enjoy:
Exercise is normally used as a compensation tool versus acknowledged for the mental health benefits and appreciation of the body’s abilities. Attempt to explore the reasons why you exercise, take time to appreciate your body’s movements and abilities and explore ways you enjoy moving.
3. Remove tracking devices
Tracking devices were made for accountability; however, this constant reminder of calories and exercise can contribute to the control aspect with eating and exercise. Seeking professional guidance from a registered dietitian can be helpful to find this balance with devices and seeking a healthier lifestyle.
4. Be aware of the effect of diet culture:
Diets disguise themselves in lingo which sounds healthy such as “lifestyle change” or “healthier you,” but usually cause you to restrict or compensate for what you are eating. This underfeeding can cause damage on your body and your ability to listen to your hunger cues. Recognizing these influences can help you start to decipher what is valid and positive on your health journey.
5. Celebrate your body:
There is a standard of the “thin ideal” in our culture which does not acknowledge the beauty of the diversity of bodies. Each person has a unique body shape and deserves to not be shamed or led to feel guilty about their appearance. Accepting your body, celebrating the beauty, and knowing that your body changes throughout life are all important to accept on your journey.
Ready to take the next step?
For more information on repairing your relationship with food, consider working with a registered dietitian and counselor.
To learn more about intuitive eating, visit https://www.intuitiveeating.org/.
If you are in need of aid for disordered eating, consider contacting the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Hotline at 800-931-2237.
Brittany owns and operates a private practice, Simply Nutrition LLC, which provides nutrition counseling and coaching services. In order to best serve her clients, she is in pursuit of her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She volunteers as the current president of the Central Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is passionate about combining the emotional and physical aspects of eating to allow clients to restore a positive relationship with food through an intuitive eating approach.
Meet Brittany on Instagram @foodandfeelingsnutrition