Enjoying a Healthy Relationship with Food

Image: Pexels - Alexy Almond

It is not uncommon to face challenges in developing a positive, healthy, and balanced relationship with food (and/or your body). So many of us have struggled with disordered eating patterns and relationships to food as a result of prolonged dieting and the pervasive impact of diet culture.

The complexity of our relationship with food is further exacerbated by the fact that eating is a fundamental necessity for our survival. Unlike substances such as alcohol or drugs, we cannot completely abstain from food if our relationship with it becomes unhealthy.

Moreover, our relationship with food extends beyond mere physical hunger. We use food as a means to connect with others, celebrate special occasions, express gratitude, and fulfill various emotional needs. It is no wonder that many of us face very real challenges when it comes to navigating their relationship with food.

So what does a healthy relationship with food even LOOK like, and perhaps more importantly, how do you go about developing one?

At its core, a healthy relationship with food is similar to any other healthy relationship:

it’s one that is built on respect, trust, communication, healthy boundaries, and an investment of time.

woman cutting pancakes

Here are my top 7 recommendations:

1. When you eat, just eat

Otherwise known as mindful eating. Too many of our meals are eaten in front of a screen, in our vehicles, or while engaged in other activities. It is such a simple yet profound way to start working on improving your relationship with food and is a great way to model healthy eating practices to others in your home. It causes you to focus on the tastes, smells and textures of your meal and helps you dial into your satiety cues making it way less likely for you to overeat.

2. Prioritize whole foods

We are inundated with so much processed food. It’s literally never been easier to get it. Food manufacturers spend a ton of money discovering the “bliss point”, in an attempt to get us to eat more. But if most of your food is whole, unprocessed food, it’s a lot easier to get full faster and again, harder to overeat.

3. Allow yourself enjoyment

In our society, there is a pervasive culture of “good” vs. “bad” foods and when we eat foods that are deemed “bad” or indulgent, we bring a lot of unnecessary guilt and shame into the experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, when we’re able to view ourselves as totally worthy of indulgent foods in moderation, we can start to release these negative associations.

4. Listen to your body

Your body is always giving you feedback — it’s just a question of whether you are listening or not. We’ve learned to outsource our body’s innate wisdom to so-called diet experts and override signals that we receive from our body in an attempt to control it.

Starting to actually listen to it is such an important part of developing a good relationship with food. They say that communication is the most important part in any relationship, and it’s no different here either.

(It can sometimes be disappointing to learn that certain foods or beverages that really taste good to us aren’t well received by our bodies. It’s been tough for me to realize that as much I love drinking red wine, red wine doesn’t love me back!)

woman holding glass of wine

5. Practice self-compassion

We’ve been taught that “beating ourselves up” is how we achieve results. But research shows that is actually not true at all! Positive emotions like kindness and curiosity bathe our system in dopamine, which activates our motivation systems. I love what self-compassion expert Kristin Neff says: “Remember that if you really want to motivate yourself, love is more powerful than fear.”

6. Give it time. 

If a problem has persisted for years, why do we think that a month or two is enough to solve it? It’s not! Instead, keep yourself in the game by celebrating small successes along the way and find ways to enjoy the journey, as you get closer to your goal.

7. Seek out support

There is tremendous power in our environment, both physical and social. The best way to ensure that you adopt a way of thinking or adopt new habits is simply by surrounding yourself with those who have already done so.

Developing a positive and healthy relationship with food is a really worthwhile endeavor. The best way for us to do this is to treat it like any other important relationship in your life. Give it time, foster trust, allow forgiveness, and keep at it! Remember, food should be enjoyed without judgment, and involves finding a balance between nourishing your body and allowing yourself to savor indulgences.

What does having a healthy relationship with food look like for YOU? I’d love to know.

You do not have to “do healthy” on your own. In fact, research tells us that you are much more likely to succeed if you have accountability layered in.

Let’s face it — healthy eating and healthy lifestyles can be boring and require a lot of patience. Having the support of an accountability coach and a community of like-minded individuals on your team can make all the difference. Share paths with a practicing holistic nutritionist, receive one-on-one coaching regarding your meals, and be connected on the app with my other clients and Ambassadors. You will have fun, stay motivated, and feel inspired!

Find out more by visiting my website www.stacyyates.com

Preparing dashboard.