7 Questions That Will Bring You Closer to Food Freedom
How self-knowledge can help you break free from the obsession with food
The Food Freedom process is not just stopping dieting. This is step zero, one in which we put an end to an unhealthy cycle of manipulating food and the body. You opened the prison cell: but that still doesn’t mean you’re free.
Freedom comes as we really get to know the reasons that lead us to seek food without hunger and begin to deal with them. When we investigate curiously what is hidden behind the way we act — in this case, the roots of our dissatisfaction with the body and imbalances in food intake — we have the chance to build a new story. With more security and autonomy to take care of our physical and mental health, without fear or guilt.
It may not seem like it, but the excessive preoccupation with food and our weight often hides the fear of looking at other life problems that need to be solved more urgently, but that we don’t want to face. A worn-out relationship, a troubled financial life, an unhappy career, among many others. Deep down, we believe that a slimmer body will bring solutions to all of this. Mitigate any and all dissatisfaction or frustration. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen.
Below you will find seven questions to help you better understand your relationship with food and with yourself. These questions do not need to be answered immediately. The idea is that they will always remain alive and will be answered throughout the process of reframing your relationship with your body and food. The only expected result is that you know yourself better and better.
Fundamental questions you can ask yourself:
1 — What role(s) is food playing in your life today?
Start observing when you eat without physical hunger. Did any event arouse the desire to eat? What did you feel before and after eating? What can the food be representing? Company, relief, welcome, memories, rebellion?
When we do not meet our human needs for connection, value, security, among others, food starts to play its role. This type of emotional eating is a way of taking care of yourself, giving yourself what is missing at that moment.
2 — What are the emotional needs that you are not meeting at the moment?
Regardless of your food choices, what do you think is missing to improve your physical and mental health?
Often, we live routines so troubled that we leave self-care and pleasure in the background. Leisure is seen as “luxury” and rest as “laziness”. We forget that playing, relaxing, resting, doing nothing, is as important to our health as being productive, and maintaining an exercise routine.
Have you been honoring your rest and pleasure needs? In what simple ways can you have a little more of them every day?
3 — What rules still dictate your food choices?
It is quite normal that even after you “officially” stop dieting, your food choices are still guided by a restrictive or rigid mentality, probably reinforced after so many years of dieting.
It is possible that you still feel guilty about eating some foods, feel that you need to make up for what you ate in order not to gain weight, feel inferior or superior to others because of what you choose or not to eat. This is expected and you shouldn’t blame yourself.
However, it is essential that you know and question these rules.
What are the rules and beliefs that you had when you were on a diet/restriction and that you still maintain in relation to food? What prevents you from doubting them? When and where did you hear that the first time? Does it still serve you in any way?
4 — Who are you as an “eater”?
After so long hearing or feeling that you are “addicted to sugar” or a “bottomless pit”, it may be that you have crystallized that view of yourself. Even unconsciously, you repeat this message endlessly to yourself, which ultimately determines the way you behave towards food.
Have you ever heard any kind of judgment about the way you eat that you believe you keep reproducing? Who are you when you sit down to eat?
5 — How can you improve your relationship with your body?
A richer relationship with your body begins with respect. After so many years of fighting it, you don’t have to feel compelled to love it overnight. Starting with respect is a more assertive strategy because it is the basis for acceptance and love.
Trying to listen to and respect the signals it emits can be a first step in discovering that your body is not your enemy. Not only hunger and satiety, but also your need to rest, to be alone, to celebrate, to be loved, for example. How can you respect and take better care of your body daily?
6 — What does a thin person represent to you?
Before you tell me that thinness is synonymous with happiness, I ask you for a moment to reflect on two questions.
The first is: what was it like to be thin for you? Often, people remember the “good times” and forget the feeling of deprivation and sacrifice that accompanied the weight loss process.
The second is: what do you believe about thin people in general? Many people think thinness is synonymous with futility or presumption, for example.
One way or another, you will hardly ever lose weight unconsciously believing that being thin is a bad thing.
7 — Do you treat yourself as a friend or an enemy?
People so loving and caring for others can be extremely cruel to themselves. These mistreatments only feed discomfort and, consequently, the search for food to appease it.
Everyone deserves your affection, attention, and kindness, starting with yourself! Review your language, your excess of criticism, and ask yourself: would you say this to a friend of yours? Would you treat someone you love the way you treat yourself?
Self-knowledge will give you the empowerment and autonomy you need to break free from the unhealthy cycle of diets. Rebuilding your relationship with yourself is a fundamental part of rebuilding your relationship with food.
I am a Brazilian girl (living in Sao Paulo with my fiancé — and other 20 million people). I love coffee, books, and good food. I also really enjoy studying and learning new things that allow me to further develop myself both professionally and personally. I have a degree in Food Science and hold a Ph.D. in Agri-food Marketing. In addition, I am a Certified Nutrition Coach and an enthusiastic Nutrition student.
After 15 years of living in war with my body and with food, I found freedom through mindfulness and intuitive eating, practices that allowed me to overcome yo-yo dieting and binge eating.
I’m passionate about helping women rewrite their food and body histories so they feel free and confident to live their lives to the fullest.
There is a power that comes alive when women free themselves from the food prison in which they have learned to live, when they realize that they are capable and deserving of feeling fantastic in their own bodies, and that confidence is a state of mind — not a body lotion which you get the right to use when you reach a weight-loss goal.
My work is dedicated to nurturing, celebrating and sharing this message.