Many of us have an unhealthy relationship with food that can often feel complicated.

You may feel that these established eating patterns are standing in the way of your health and happiness.

  • Or maybe you’ve been trying to diet for years, or only feel in control if you’re restricting your food intake or following rigid diet rules. 
  • Perhaps you stress or comfort eat when you’re feeling angry or flat. 

Have you ever imagined a way of eating and living that could leave you truly nourished and fulfilled?

The aim of this article is to highlight the benefits of a healthy relationship with food and some tips to way start enjoying life again. 

Understanding Your Relationship with Food.

Recognizing our eating patterns is the first step in identifying if our relationship with food is healthy or if it needs our attention.

Here are just some signs of an unhealthy relationship with food:

  • You often feel guilt and shame about eating
  • You label foods as “good “or “bad” and often restrict them
  • You have a list of rules regarding the foods you can and can’t eat
  • You find yourself restricting and/or binging food
  • You ignore your body’s natural hunger cues
  • You have a history of yo-yo dieting
  • You have a history of jumping the latest diet fads

Whether it be strict dieting, out of control eating, or managing your emotions with food, you can find healthy ways to overcome the “all” or “nothing” thinking.

Letting Go of Perfection

I struggled with a dysfunctional relationship with food for many years.

There is a fine line between dedication to healthy eating, and an unhealthy obsession. 

I used to label foods as “good “or “bad” and  had  long list of diet rules that if broken always lead to feeling bad about myself and feeling guilt and shame.

This way of thinking– which is sadly very common – really limited my brain’s capacity to reflect and to be flexible. This had a negative impact on my confidence and self-esteem.

Once I let go of the notion that there is a “perfect” way to eat, I began my journey to finding peace with food and eating with freedom.

Benefit #1 – Eating with Freedom

How to Feel Confident to Eat with Freedom and Ditch the Diet Rules.

Eating with Freedom means: 

  • Applying compassion and kindness and letting go of the all-or-nothing thinking (pwrfection)
  • Eating in a way that enhances your life, and that is helpful to your mind and body.
  • Allowing yourself to enjoy your food and embracing flexibility, without unnecessary restriction.

No one eats “perfectly” since perfect does not exist.

This might feel uncomfortable after the black and white thinking that you may be used to.

Here are some tips to help you: 

If any negative thoughts like, “I should not be eating this” or “I’m a failure that I couldn’t control what I ate last night ” come up as you’re eating, let them go and allow them to pass without judgment. 

The Benefits of Eating with Freedom means you can:

  • Feel good about the food you eat
  • Eat more on some days, less on others
  • You can eat certain foods just because they taste good
  • Enjoy treats when you feel like them
  • Move away from labelling foods as “good”, “bad”, or “clean”

Benefit #2-Healthy Body Image

According to several studies  the main reason of food restriction is body dissatisfaction, with over ninety percent of women not liking what they see in the mirror.

Body image refers to the way you see, think and feel about your body. Your body image can be positive, negative, or a bit of both. It can also change over time.

Negative Body Image 

Someone may develop a negative body image for a number of reasons, such as, what you may believe about your eating patterns and/or having family or friends that are appearance focused and who constantly diet.

And let’s not forget the Media showing images that are idealised and unrealistic and unachievable for your particular body type.

The thing is the way you see your body doesn’t always reflect reality. You may think of yourself as being larger than you really are or become obsessed on a particular body part, seeing it as being unacceptable. 

Positive Body Image

Having a positive body image means you accept, respect and celebrate your body. 

You’re more likely to have a healthy, balanced lifestyle, without spending too much time worrying about the way you look.

The good news is that with some effort and persistence, you can change your body image to be more positive.

“We may ignore or deride the messages of the body but it’s rebellion demands to be heeded because its language is the authentic expression of our true selves and of the strength of our vitality.” Alice Miller

Here are some tips to help you improve your body image:

  • Focus on your inner strengths and unique qualities
  • Focus on goals that are enjoyable and not related to weight loss
  • Give gratitude for your body for what it does for you, not just what it looks like
  • Value the things that make you different and unique
  • Talk to yourself as you would speak to a friend with kindness and compassion
  • Avoid critiquing other people’s bodies
  • Take a break from social media if it’s affecting your confidence

I absolutely love this quote…

“Think of your body like a magical garden – always growing and changing, full of colour and life.”Dr Christine Miller

Benefit #3-Self-Confidence 

Have you ever stuck to a restrictive diet plan and after not seeing the results you expected you start doubting yourself and question your abilities?

You may even start judging yourself and speak negatively to yourself which has an impact of your confidence and your future decision making.

Thinking of food as the enemy of your body is unhealthy and can cause you a severe amount of emotional damage and affect your confidence.

What is Self-confidence?

The definition of Self-Confidence according to Merriam Webster is: confidence in oneself and in one’s powers and abilities.

Self-confidence is when you trust and believe in your abilities, decisions and judgement.

You accept yourself exactly the way you are right now and know that you are enough.

That’s doesn’t mean that you don’t have any aspirations to make changes it means that you love and accept yourself where you are right NOW regardless of your shape or behaviour.

Here are some tips to help you improve your self-confidence:

This may feel challenging at first but the more your practise your self-esteem will improve and your confidence is likely to increase.

Set realistic expectations. 

  • Do you expect immediate change? As you achieve small goals, your self-confidence will improve and you can attempt bigger changes.

Catch negative thoughts that pop into your mind throughout the day and reframe them.

  • For example, instead of saying, “I missed breakfast today,” replace with, “I will enjoy eating breakfast tomorrow because it gives me the energy and focus I want in my day”

Approach challenges with an open mind 

  • Accept that setbacks will occur and try not to judge yourself- instead ask yourself, “What are the lessons I can learn from this experience?

Celebrate your success 

  • Make a list of daily accomplishments, no matter how small. Add to this list every day. This allows you to focus on what is going well in your life, instead of what isn’t.

And lastly- aim for healthy rather than perfect.

Having a healthy relationship with food is not about what types or amounts of food you eat.

It’s about creating positive changes to overcome your issues around food, and repair unhealthy eating habits and mindsets. 

From there you will start to feel more confident to eat with freedom and create a healthier, more sustainable, and more enjoyable relationship with food. 

Now I would love to hear from you…

 – What does your relationship with food feel like?

Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear your food story. ⁠ ⁠

I know that building a healthy relationship with food is a very personal thing. 

If you want to go on the journey with someone who has been there and can support you every step of the way, book a free 30-minute-coaching session with me.   

I’ll show you how to eat well consistently so you feel HAPPY, energised and confident wearing the clothes you love.

Irena Geller

?Food & Mood ? Coach

B Biomedical Sc (UTS) | Nutrition Certificate (Cadence Institute) | Lifestyle, Health & Wellness Coach Level 3 (WCA)| Positive Psychology Certificate (WCA) | Stress Management Certificate (WCA)