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8 Steps to Rebuild Your Relationship with Food

Ultimately, developing a healthy relationship with food is paramount for having your cake and eating it, too, and here are the steps to take to strengthen your bond to food!


Though we habitually think of relationships as a social affair, the one we have with food should not be put under the table. In fact, a good relationship with food is not only key to physical health, but a staple to prosper mental welfare.

Does this mean we must always measure out our food and overdo it on the veggies? Absolutely not. In fact, you may be surprised to discover that someone a healthy relationship to food does not always eat "healthy" food, but rather treats themselves to that donut brought in to the work meeting or slice of cake to celebrate a family member's birthday.

And along with actually taking and enjoying the richer, calorically-dense foods, people with a healthy relationship to food don't put themselves down for eating it.

Ultimately, developing a healthy relationship with food is paramount for having your cake and eating it, too, and here are the steps to take to strengthen your bond to food!

How to Change Your Relationship with Food

1. Distinguish Between Hunger and Cravings

Being able to distinguish between hunger and cravings is key for developing a healthy relationship with food, as while they are often used interchangeably, there are vast distinctions between the two.

Hunger is a physical need for food and results to a growling stomach, headache, and loss of energy. Hunger is often not exclusive to one food and individuals likely feel satisfied after eating.

On the other hand, cravings are predominantly a mental desire that tend to be stimulated and fueled by negative feelings and emotions. Cravings are often towards "comfort foods," including products rich in sugar, fat, and salt. Unlike hunger, cravings can pass overtime and if they are fed into, individuals are commonly unsatisfied following their intake and may even feel guilty.

Recognizing the feelings between the two can help you decide whether or not you are feeding an emotion or actually needing to nourish the body with quality foods.

2. Add Healthy Habits Overtime

A complete lifestyle overhaul is not only overwhelming, but also unnecessary.

Rebuild your relationship with food by setting small, incremental goals throughout the day. For instance, if you normally skip breakfast, and rather than resorting to a donut run, go for a piece of fruit and glass of milk. Eat out every day of the week? Make an effort to cook at least one meal at home.

Ultimately, gradually making small tweaks in your day-to-day routine can lead to monotonous benefits overtime.

3. Practice Mindful Eating

Being mindful is essentially a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. So in the context of food and nutrition, mindful eating is a nonjudgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations while eating.

Mindful eating promotes the notion of "all foods fit," stripping down the stigma of "unhealthy" or "bad" foods and promotes that all foods can in the diet. The practice further supports individuals to intently focus on internal cues of hunger and satiety, as well as external motivators that drive behaviors to foods.

This ultimate guide to mindful eating is a practical tool for developing a healthy relationship with food, as it offers helpful tips to implement mindful eating techniques.

4. Stop Using Food as a Reward

While it is certainly okay to indulge every now and then, it is important to not continuously reward yourself with food.

For instance, if you tackled a rigorous workout, and though you should properly fuel for muscle recovery, do not actively seek out a box of donuts or cookies.

There are numerous non-food incentives to reward yourself with, including a new pair of headphones, an hour massage, or simply other "you" time. It is important to reward yourself for all the hard work you have put into your journey, as even small rewards can motivate people to go the extra mile and earning success!

5. Break the All-or-Nothing Mindset

"I already ruined my day with a donut, I guess I'll restart my diet tomorrow and order pizza tonight." "I don't have a solid hour to workout, I probably shouldn't go." Do any of these all-or-nothing situations sound familiar?

If you find yourself battling this unrelenting cycle, it is time to break. Not only is it counterproductive, but damaging to your relationship with food.

Fix an unhealthy relationship with food and break away from the cycle by finding a balance that is sustainable for you seven days out of the week, including divvying away from so-called "cheat days."

Furthermore, don't throw in the towel if you think you unraveled your efforts because if looking at the big picture, one donut in the day will not cause weight gain just as a salad won't instantaneously drop pounds.

At the end of the day, the enjoyment and nourishment from food is what matters.

6. Keep Trigger Foods Out of the House

Although treats can and should be enjoyed, sometimes there are certain types of. Being able to recognize this is step one, while step two is keeping them out of the house.

Following the "out of sight, out of mind" rule essentially reinforces you to truly identify being hungry or wanting a snack, instead of potentially grazing on multiple snacks.

So rather than keeping an ice cream carton in the house, allow yourself to go out and get an ice cream. Not only does this keep your craving in-check, but it helps you enjoy ice cream as a treat.

7. Stop Focusing on the Scale

The concern of eating certain types of food relates to its impact on weight and people tend to become preoccupied with the number on the scale.

Instead of fixating on weight quantity, start tending to the quality of overall health. Instead of obsessing over the scale, reflect on how nourishing foods heightens your energy levels and how they fuel your body and workouts.

When you stop focusing on the scale and look to food as nourishment, weight loss is often a byproduct, along with a healthier relationship to food.

8. So Remember, You Only Get One Body (and Life)

Food is a necessity and we need food to live. Properly nourishing the body gives us the fuel we need sustain health to enjoy life.

Wanting and needing to eat is not a judgment call, as it is part of being human!

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