Let’s be clear, you don’t need to have an eating disorder to take action toward building a healthy relationship with food. For instance, if you have ever been on a “healthy diet” to change your appearance, shamed yourself for being “naughty” with certain foods, or have been grouping food into a “good” and “bad” category – this post could be helpful for you. “In my experience working with clients, the most common battles when it comes to having a healthy relationship with food is having a healthy perspective of oneself and a misconception of labeling foods good or bad. Someone who is not confident of their body and sees themselves negatively will likely have a poor relationship with dieting too,” says Tricia Yap, Functional Medicine Health Coach and founder of Limitless with over 10 years of coaching experience.
FOOD BEHAVIOUR DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON
This time of the year typically comes with much more freedom around social dining and food routines. We’ve learned from experience that many find themselves in a vicious cycle of crash dieting -> toxic self-narrative -> binging and struggling in between 😣 Obviously, the psychology runs deep. It varies depending on a person’s health status, history, genetics, mindset around healthy diet and exercise. In this post, we want to share some examples of how we help our clients start the process of rebuilding a healthy relationship with food altogether. Before we begin the steps below, there is one thing you need to acknowledge – rebuilding your relationship with food is not a one-off task. Without a doubt, it is a process. We offer an 8-week program on resetting metabolic health and your relationship with food but what makes your results long-lasting is what you do AFTER those 8 weeks. (Related: The Pillars for Successful and Sustainable Fat Loss)
HOW TO REBUILD YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
1. Self-examination. Using the practice of reflection as a catalyst for change may be your key to nurturing a solid capacity for intrinsic motivation. Positively understanding the roots of your current behaviour around food will evidently give you more clarity on where the weeds and seeds are. In some situations, certain beliefs about the act of eating can be harmful in spite of healthy intentions. Create a window of alone time, grab a hot cup of soothing beverage, and treat yourself to this self-care activity. Write things down. Type it out. Audio-note it through. Whatever works for you. Prefer to print out this guide and work from it? Download the Rebuild a Healthy Relationship with Food Worksheet here.
Prompt examples for self-examination from the worksheet:
- “What is the real reason behind my obsession with a healthy diet?”
- “How do I talk to myself when I don’t feel good about my body weight/appearance? Am I cruel to myself?”
- “How am I reinforcing a toxic relationship with food?”
2. Assessment. Long-lasting changes do not happen after an hour of talking to a coach. Of course, it’s certainly a brilliant start! One certainly has to invest energy into acting on desired changes and creating small shifts that lead to sustainable habits. Re-assessments are an important part of our clients’ journeys. In many cases, they are key factors in whether that client enjoys their investment results – feeling powerful about their health. Give yourself permission to use questions to get curious about your relationship with food.
Here are some prompt examples for assessment from the worksheet.
- “Do I know what a healthy relationship with food looks like?”
- “Do I spend energy on resisting temptations and being in a scarcity mindset VS spending energy on enjoyment and being in an abundance mindset?
- “Do thoughts about food dominate my day?”
3. Understanding your goals. Start by asking yourself simple questions like “What do I want my relationship with food to be?” “What does a healthy diet that is right for me look like?” Check out our guide to gaining clarity on health and fitness goals here.
4. Supporting actions. Specifically, realistic actions. Are you planning too many changes all at once right after the holidays? Is your healthy routine stressful? Does it make you feel alienated? Factors like these not only make it hard to stick to, you lose out on the full benefits. Furthermore, it can have a counter effect in adding more stress to your system. Unquestionably, enjoyment is crucial to sustaining lifestyle changes, which includes improving your relationship with food. These supporting actions will naturally be different for everyone. Some need these to integrate efficiently with their schedules around family and work. Others can afford help, while many face the reality of not having the energy to make changes. Get creative with actionables you can implement practically with a low financial cost, energy expenditure or learning curve. Hence, starting with the basics can be incredibly helpful.
Some ideas for actionables from the worksheet.
- Educate yourself. Learn how to read labels, why hydration REALLY matters, what blood sugar is and why that is important to regulate.
- Take stock of how certain food makes you feel. Anything from feeling bloated to feeling agitated to feeling good. Arm your decisions with this knowledge.
- Discover what brings you pleasure around food. Is it the social aspect? Is it flavour? Is it the process of cooking?
5. Mindful eating. Eating is impacted by much more than what happens when food enters the body and triggers feedback signals to the brain. Although digestion physiologically digestion begins in the mouth, it also begins in the powerful mind. To illustrate, try this out…
- Think of a food item that you typically associate joy with
- Picture it, how it looks, how your eyes feast on it before your mouth does
- Imagine picking up your utensils, the act of a meal about to commence
- But first, what does it smell like?
- Before that first chew, what does that first contact feel and taste like?
If you notice that you are now salivating, you are aware and present. Simultaneously, you’ve just experienced mindfulness. Wasn’t too difficult, was it? 😉
Tips from the worksheet for mindful eating practices:
- TASTE YOUR FOOD. allow all of your senses to dine along. chew slower. lower your utensils every few bites.
- PORTION SELECTION. decide how you want to feel from a dining experience, and make choices that align. (this includes alcohol consumption)
- NOT STARVING TO BINGE. lowered blood sugar levels can lead to a state of intense over-eating. this typically happens when you are “saving” your appetite for holiday feasts.
🧠 In conclusion, rebuilding your relationship with food through a healthy diet does not have to be daunting.
🍃Resetting your metabolic health does not have to be complicated.
💫 Consequently, you are investing in your future. You deserve to.
To help you get started (again), here’s a gift from us to you – one session of Personal Training at Limitless gym.