How do I know if I have a healthy relationship with food?
Do you ever reflect on the nature of your relationships with your partner, family members or friends? Have you found yourself thinking about things like - is this person that I am dating good for me, do they bring out the best in me and do they make me feel good? Or do you perhaps ask yourself - do I need to set stronger boundaries in my relationship with that family member, do I enjoy spending time with them and how often would I like to see them moving forward? Or maybe you may have reflected on whether - you still have a good time with that friend you have had your whole life, whether you still have things in common and if the friendship is something that you want in your life moving forward. It is important for us to aim to nurture healthy and enjoyable relationships in our personal life.
Yet do you ever ask yourself what your relationship with food is like?
- Do you have a love-hate relationship with it? Really considering yourself a foodie but then finding that you feel guilty for eating.
- Do you have an abusive relationship with it - and turn to it in moments of extreme sadness/boredom/stress, punishing your body with it, not really even enjoying what you are eating at all?
- Do you have a loving and nurturing relationship with it - where you use food mostly to nourish and take care of your body/your wellbeing and enjoy some indulgences from time to time without guilt?
How would you describe your current relationship with food? Does eating and being around food bring up positive emotions and associations for you or lots of negative emotions and associations for you? Whilst of course everyone is different, here are some signs that you may not have the healthiest relationship with food:
You feel extreme guilt after eating. When eating and making food choices leaves you feeling guilty and bad, this is a good indicator that perhaps you don't have the most positive relationship with food. Either it could indicate that you are making lots of food choices that you know are not the best for you, your body and your health or it could indicate that you have set yourself very strict guidelines around what it is "okay" to eat and feel guilty when straying beyond these guidelines. In either case, those feelings of guilt often indicate that your relationship with food may not be a positive, nourishing and enjoyable way of interacting with food.
You think about food/ obsess about food a lot. When thoughts around food take up a lot of your mental space and time, this is an indication that your relationship with food may have become a bit dysfunctional. Now of course there is nothing wrong with looking forward to your next meal or planning what you are going to eat. Yet if thoughts about food/ what you should/shouldn't eat seem to occupy a lot of your mental space, this is a good indicator that your relationship with food is holding you back in your life rather than serving you. If you are devoting so much time and mental space to food, just think about how much time you aren't spending enjoying your life, planning for your future, building your dreams, being creative etc.
You don't enjoy eating or aren't getting any pleasure from food. Food should be a source of pleasure and you should enjoy eating. If eating your meals has become a chore or just something you do out of necessity, it may be that you don't have the most positive relationship with food. Whilst food is absolutely fuel and something that should work to boost our physical and mental health, it is also important you are enjoying or deriving some pleasure/joy from what you are eating.
You have lots of very strict food rules. Everyone is different and different ways of eating will work for different people. You may find for example that you body does well if you don't eat too many dairy products or that eating dinner by 7pm helps to you slee