Tips for healing your relationship with food

The first time I heard the saying “a moment on your lips, forever on your hips,” I was in grade 7.

My speech that year was on childhood obesity and that line was how I would end it. In retrospect, someone should have referred me to a therapist upon hearing it come out of an 11 year old’s mouth.

Before I continue, if you want to understand more about my history and my turning point 3 years ago, I would highly recommend reading My relationship with food: 22 years and counting. But in short, to say my my relationship was strained from an early age would be an understatement.

I have made great strides since writing that first blog post, thanks to several practices and habits I now want to share with you. My hope is that you can take something out of this to help you better lean into a more balanced approach to eating.

Identify your fear foods

And once you’ve identified them, eat them. Just intentionally plan to buy that food, have it in the house and eat it when your heart desires it throughout the week.

Most of my “fears” lived in olive oil, pasta, cereal but most importantly: bagels.

I remember looking at people having toasted bagels for breakfast in amazement. How can they just do that? Do they not know how many carbs are in it?

So I went on a mission to eat at least a bagel a week or whenever I craved them. I genuinely would feel like a kid breaking a rule in school at first, but over time something changed.

In giving myself unrestricted access, they became less desirable over time. I didn’t have to tell myself to avoid them, I just didn’t want one eventually.

Once you remove black and white rules of dieting, food just becomes food without any intense emotion attached to it.

Get a journal

But not the kind where you say you ate 3/4 of a cup of cooked basmati rice and 20g of baby spinach.

This is the kind where you write down how you feel about your body, what types of foods trigger negative feelings, physical reactions (i.e. bloating) and generally what intrusive thoughts you’re experiencing from challenging old beliefs.

The goal is to eventually learn to just let your body be the way it is in that moment, free of judgement.

You don’t have to write daily, but it is a good practice on those day when you wake up and feel particularly self deprecating. I think it was the main reason I was able to intentionally gain weight in 2016 and embrace something I spent my entire life running away from.

Eat without distractions

Eating is not just about chewing and swallowing, it’s about how the food smells, tastes, feels, sounds and the pleasure of the full experience.

When you’re distracted, you reduce eating to just the mechanics and your brain doesn’t get the satisfaction it’s looking for even if you consumed enough food.

My suggestion is to try to avoid eating in the car, while doing work, when you’re under a lot of stress or while sitting in front of the TV.

Step away from your daily life, take your time and start asking yourself what you like about the food you’re eating and notice it filling your up. It’s time we acknowledge meal times as full sensory experiences and not just something we have to do to stay alive.

Wear clothes that fit

This is one of the most underrated healthy mindset practices you can implement immediately. I suggest channelling your inner Marie Kondo and sending away all clothes that no longer fit, flatter or bring joy into your life.

The physical discomfort of wearing tight clothing quickly turns into mental discomfort throughout the day. The hyperawareness of having clothes be tight or unflattering is enough to trigger a diet mentality in anyone and will continue to feed an unhealthy relationship with food over time.

Old clothing is not a source of motivation and should NOT be used as a measure of “progress.” Having weight loss goals is all well and good but it shouldn’t restrict you from appreciating and respecting the body you are currently in.

Clean your Instagram feed

Not all fit chicks and bros are created equal and unfortunately most are not helping you as much as you think they are.

Staring at her butt or her 6-pack does nothing for your motivation and will actually chip away at your relationship with food and your body. So I invite you to become more self-aware when scrolling.

Did you do an automatic comparison? Did they actually provide value to your life? Is their entire brand the fact that they have great genetics? Are you being sold things that claim to help you transform your body? Do they overshare about how many calories they eat? Is their entire feed ab shots? If you never saw what their body looked like, would their captions sound body dysmorphic or disordered in any way?

If you answered yes to any of the above, please cancel your subscription. Seek people who look like you, have similar goals, or share balanced advice that doesn’t sabotage and insult where you are in your life right now.

Just do you

As much as I want to give you an equation for success, it doesn’t exist. These things worked for me, but your relationship with food has developed over the course of YOUR entire life. It will require patience and a strong willingness to challenge old beliefs you may have.

If I can leave you with anything to help you get started with this new chapter, it is this:

  • We all live life in a unique context and to think there is a one-size-fits-all formula to achieve fitness and health is complete horse shit.
  • There’s more to health than weight loss, there’s more to weight loss than dieting, there’s more to dieting than food and there’s more to food than macros. Amen.

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