Creating a healthy relationship with food is just as important as what you’re eating. There’s no denying the health benefits that result from eating a well-balanced diet and what that does for your body, however, your relationship with food and how that makes you feel also has a place. Being careful about what you eat can sometimes turn into an unhealthy obsession which can cause disordered eating behaviours leading to actual eating disorders. This can sometimes develop from looking up to your favourite Instagram/TV/magazine stars and getting absorbed into diet culture. Read on for our 5 Ways to Create a Healthy Relationship with Food, tips to help you on your way to banishing the unreasonable diet culture herd mentality and creating a happy, mindful eating experience.
1. Become aware of the type of eater you are
Are you an emotional eater? Reaching for food as a comfort when you are feeling stressed, anxious and upset is a very common but unhelpful habit. Emotional eating can come from the lack of understanding of how to cope with certain situations or feelings. There can also be a ‘binge/ restrict’ cycle you feel trapped in, where you binge for comfort then restrict from guilt. Are you an external eater? Food advertisements and social gatherings can also lead to becoming mindless and overeating.
2. Become aware of any mindless eating habits you have
Are you always eating on the go? Eating at your desk? Have you ever eaten so quickly that you didn’t savour the moment only to reach for something else? Eaten so much that you were uncomfortably full? If you answered yes to any of these, the next steps will help you to understand how to be more present in whilst you’re eating with a full connection to your mind and body.
3. Practice mindfulness and mindful eating
Mindful eating is about being in the present moment while you’re eating a meal, appreciating the taste, texture, and smell of the food and being aware of when you are internally hungry or full. If you usually eat in front of the TV or desk, next time try to eat without distraction. If you eat too quickly, try to slow down, have a glass of water with your meal and chew your food 10-20 times per bite. Honour and savour the moment and show gratitude for your meal!
4. Understand your hunger and satiety cues
If you’re an external or emotional eater you may not be listening to what your body really wants in the present moment. Before you eat, take some time to connect with your body to make sure you are really hungry and not just eating out of boredom, stress or social pressure. The sensation of hunger is often confused with thirst, so have a drink of water and ask yourself the question 10-20 minutes later.
5. Banish diet culture and ‘food labelling’ for good!
There is always a new product or advertising company telling you that you need to ‘lose weight’ or ‘drop a dress size’. Diet culture values your size, weight and body shape over your health and well-being, when in fact this can be very damaging to your mental and physical health. We all know now that ‘diet-culture’ does not work in the long term and could damage your relationship with food. Stop labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and allow yourself to eat everything in moderation, and importantly, enjoy the experience. By intensifying your focus, you’ll also tend to eat the amount that’s right for you, if not a bit less.
Everyone has a relationship with food, and whilst it’s up to you to create one that will serve you mentally and physically, these 5 tips will hopefully help you to become more self-aware on your journey to a healthy relationship with what you eat. Mindfulness and mindful eating are becoming extremely popular subjects of recent research so don’t be afraid to give it a go, remember you are in control of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours! If you feel you or a loved one are suffering from disordered eating behaviours, please seek help from a professional. Let us know your views on this subject below, join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. (Why not take a look at these other motivational-mindset articles?)