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Healthy Holidays: Your Relationship with Food

As the holidays are quickly approaching, join us in a series focused on understanding and improving your relationship with food.

Understanding Your Relationship with Food

A good relationship with food involves having unconditional permission to eat the foods that make you feel good physically and mentally. No foods are off-limits, and you feel no guilt upon eating foods that are typically labeled “good” or “bad.”

Having a good relationship with food isn’t something you can achieve overnight. Rather, it’s something that you’ll likely have to work on your entire life — just as you’d work on a relationship with your partner, friend, or any other meaningful person in your life.

Before you can work toward a good relationship with food, it’s important to pinpoint the signs and symptoms of a bad relationship with food.

A good relationship with food has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of your diet or the types of food you eat, but rather how and why you choose the foods you eat. When you improve your relationship with food, you’ll notice a lot less stress and worry around eating and more food freedom.

Here are the signs of a bad relationship with food:

  • You feel guilty about eating.

  • You avoid or restrict foods that are “bad” for you.

  • You have developed a long list of rules surrounding the foods you can and cannot eat.

  • You rely on calorie counters or apps to tell you when you’re done eating for the day.

  • You ignore your body’s natural hunger cues.

  • You have a history of yo-yo dieting or following the latest diet fads.

  • You feel immense stress and anxiety when eating in social settings due to fear of what others may think of your food choices.

  • You find yourself restricting and/or binging food.

You don’t have to experience all of these signs to have a bad relationship with food. Yet, the telltale sign that your relationship with food could be improved is if you feel any type of shame, guilt, stress, or fear regarding the foods you eat.

The goal of a good relationship with food is to have more positive experiences with food than negative ones. Showing patience and kindness toward yourself is paramount.

A good relationship with food is like any other relationship — it takes time, practice, and a lot of patience. It’s important to understand that your relationship with food goes deeper than fueling your body. Unlike animals that eat solely for survival, humans eat for a variety of reasons, such as joy, pleasure, culture, tradition, socialization, and to fuel their bodies.

When you start to appreciate food as more than just a fuel source, you can begin to see value in it and develop a healthier relationship.

Signs of a good relationship with food include:

  • You give yourself unconditional permission to eat the foods you enjoy.

  • You listen and respect your body’s natural hunger cues.

  • You eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.

  • No foods are off-limits.

  • You don’t obsess over the number on the scale.

  • You don’t let the opinions of others dictate which foods you eat.

  • You don’t feel the need to justify your food choices.

  • You understand that you’re not defined by the foods you eat.

  • You enjoy all food in moderation.

  • You choose foods that make you feel your best.

  • Calories are not the focus of your food choices.

If you’re looking at this list and thinking, “I’ll never get to this point,” you’re not alone. Many people struggle with the idea of ditching the diet mentality and pushing away years of the diet culture messages they’ve been getting since a young age. Instead of focusing on checking off every item on the list, try to approach one at a time at a pace that works for you.

It’s one thing to hope for change — and it’s another to actively try to make change happen.

Remember that you’re your own person. You have your own history with food, your own food preferences, and every right to navigate this journey in a way that suits you.

Follow us to learn more about ways to improve your relationship with food and maintain your health and wellness goals through this holiday season!

- Your Friends at TWWD Fitness

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