Would you say your relationship with food is complicated? Perhaps you have good intentions to eat well but your hectic schedule takes over and so does convenience food. Or maybe you find yourself overeating snacks or desserts and feeling guilty afterwards?
We live in a weight obsessed culture with tons of mixed nutrition messages, from 'clean eating' to 'juicing', to all the different diets (keto, plant based, paleo and the list goes on). All these mixed messages about what to eat and our obsession with diet (I would argue) has led to unhealthy relationships with food and ultimately disordered eating.
Disordered eating has been identified as an unhealthy and obsessive relationship with food. Although different from diagnosed eating disorders it has become a severe problem in our culture, with approximately 30% of women engaging in purging or extreme weight loss behaviours and 75% of women 25-45 years of age expressing concerns about their weight and shape (1).
In this blog I will be discussing the top 4 signs of an unhealthy relationship with food. Becoming aware of your relationship with food is the first step to making truly impactful lifestyle changes.
1. There are good and bad foods...and you have rules around them
Do you have tons of rules about the foods you eat? No sugar, no wine, no gluten, no dairy, and the list goes on. Of course there are some health conditions that warrant avoidance of certain foods or ingredients. I myself recommend elimination diets depending on the person or the situation. However, having too many restrictions can be difficult to manage and even more difficult to follow.
Healthy eating isn't so black and white! Having a healthy relationship allows you to become a mindful eater that truly enjoys each bite of their food, without feeling restricted.
2. You feel guilty after eating certain foods
Having too many rules around food often creates classifications of good and bad foods. When we eat these 'bad' foods we feel guilty. It often becomes a viscous cycle of cravings, giving in or binging on foods you 'shouldn't eat,' and feeling guilty and potentially 'icky' afterwards. It's important to become aware of these feelings of guilt attached to eating, learn why this might be the case, and create healthier eating routines.
3. You don't trust yourself around certain foods
Is there a certain food you just can't have around you? I know for many this might be chips or chocolate, having these foods around would likely lead to OVEREATING and loss of control. It really isn't your fault that these foods seem "addicting," they actually do contain addicting properties like sugar, fat, and salt. What makes it even more difficult is we often crave these types of foods in times of stress or when we are tired. Who doesn't feel this from time to time?
In addition, you might even have some memories associated with these foods, for example I have many child memories associated with ice cream (and it's still one of my favourite dessert foods). Fixating on the food you want, without giving in can often lead to binges where it becomes difficult to stop at just one serving.
Learning to trust yourself around 'trigger' foods takes time and involves mindful eating strategies and an understanding of why you are eating the way you do. In some cases your eating behaviours might be associated with emotions, habits, childhood routines, stress, or anything else.
4. Weight focused (the scale is your best friend and your enemy)
Do you weight yourself daily? Does the number on the scale impact your mood? Do you get anxious when the number has slightly shifted up? As I mentioned above about 75% of women have concerns about their weight and shape. I mean there is nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel better about yourself, but we don't always go about this in the right ways. We often look for quick fixes and these quick fixes tend to be associated with borderline starvation tactics, guilt and feelings of failure when these strict guidelines cannot be sustained. This can be a very dangerous and vicious cycle.
I want your focus to be happiness, energy, well being, and whatever else health might mean to you. Be kind to yourself, which includes enjoying foods with the people you love.
If you feel like some or all of these signs speak to you, please feel free to connect with me. I'd love to support you in finding your healthy relationship with food or at least guide you to some resources that might help.
I am also hosting a 5-week program all about understanding WHY you eat what you eat. Learn more by clicking here. My next program starts in April.
Monday marks a new week, it's never too late for a fresh start or new journey! :)
Cheers to happy and healthy eating.
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Angela XO
1) Reba-Harrelson et al. (2009). http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC3612547/