Is It Time to Change Your Relationship with Food?
One of the many problems with diets and diet culture is that they often leads to disordered eating. This may not be an official eating disorder, but you may still end up with an unhealthy relationship with food.
Here are three ways to tell if this is something you’re experiencing. If it is, it’s a good time to consider changing your relationship with food.
You think of foods as good or bad
One of the hallmarks of diets is that they divide food into two categories: good and bad. Even if they don’t directly call the foods good or bad, that’s the implication. You have foods to mostly avoid (i.e., bad) and foods to eat freely (i.e., good).
And even if you stop the diet, that mindset often continues. This leads to all kinds of judgment about food, and by extension, those who are eating the food.
After all, if you routinely eat food that falls into the “bad” category, doesn’t that mean you’re bad? And if you stick to the “good” foods, surely you deserve praise for having so much self-control?
You might start judging yourself or others for what they eat, or how much they eat, or when they eat, etc. – and that never leads to anything helpful.
You’re very food-focused
Another side effect of diets is that you can become very food-focused (if you weren’t already).
It always seems rather ironic that programs that are supposed to make it “easier” for you to eat often mean you have to think about food a lot more than you did before. Is it something you’re supposed to be eating? How many calories or points does it have? Should you measure it? Is it the wrong time to be eating?
The result is that you may find yourself thinking about food most of the time. Some programs have apps where you can enter the information, so you don’t necessarily have to remember how many points you’ve used (or calories you’ve eaten, etc.), but just the act of putting all that information into an app or food journal of any kind makes you think about it more.
So, instead of thinking about your job, your family, your hobbies, or other interests, you spend an awful lot of mental time and energy on food.
You feel like food is in control
You may even get to the point where you feel like food controls your life, like you can’t go anywhere or do anything without knowing what the food situation is like.
Or you may even avoid doing certain things because it will expose you to foods that you’re not “supposed” to eat, and you’ll be so tempted you won’t be able to resist having some of those foods.
Of course, if you have severe food allergies, or celiac or something like it, it’s important to understand what will be on hand if you’re going somewhere that you’ll be having a meal. But if you don’t, it can be very limiting to put all kinds of restrictions on yourself about where you’ll go or what you’ll eat there, simply because of a left-over diet mentality.
I remember times like this, where I felt like I had to bring my own food to different places, or that I should eat beforehand so I wouldn’t be as likely to eat food at the event. Of course, that would often backfire because, after restricting myself, I usually ended up eating the “forbidden” foods anyway, even if I wasn’t hungry.
Food is a necessary part of life, and it can be very enjoyable, but when it gets to the point where you feel like it’s controlling what you do, something needs to change.
Changing your relationship with food is freeing
If you’ve had those types of experiences with food, then it may feel impossible to change – but it’s not. You can learn how to find a better balance, so that you enjoy food and think about it sometimes, but you also have plenty of time and energy to spend on other important things in your life.
Making this change is very freeing, and it makes life much less stressful. It takes time to get there, but it’s well worth it – and if you find you need support doing that, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to help.