This article was originally published in September 2021 at the irenageller/foodandmoodcoach website.

How Healthy Is Your Relationship with Food? ⁠ ⁠

Did you know that your connection with food plays a vital l role when it comes to your choices, daily habits, and overall health? ⁠ ⁠

What words come to mind when you try to describe your eating patterns. Do you identify more with?

  • Balance and Consistency ⁠

Or⁠

  • Frustration, guilt, and shame? ⁠ ⁠

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

Perhaps your relationship with food may feel far from healthy, but it’s been like that for so long that you may not know how to change it or even where to start.

Here are four ways for creating a healthier, more sustainable, and more enjoyable relationship with food. 

Step 1 – Change Your Thinking Habits About Food

There’s no such thing as a bad food.

Many of us have an “all” or “nothing” approach when it comes to eating and label foods as “good” food and “bad” food.

Looking at food in a good vs. bad way is overly simplistic and will generally leads you to poor decision making and a lot of confusion.

It’s important to understand that most foods don’t really carry an inherent “goodness” or “badness” in their chemical structure.

Instead, it’s your own thinking that sets the stage for these sort of rules and limitations.

What happens when you think like this: 

  • You start setting up a restrictive set of rules in your mind.
  • You start judging yourself harshly when it comes to eating related decisions.
  • You start thinking in black and white without noticing and embracing the shades of grey.

Here are a few tips to change your thinking habits about food.

This might feel uncomfortable after the extremes of the black and white thinking and rule-bound rollercoaster, but it’s well worth it.

  • Instead of trying to stay away from bad foods, try this instead – eat mostly foods that are minimally processed and eat a wide variety of them so that you never obsess too much on any single natural food.
  • Complement your natural food diet with proper rest, exercise, and play so that your physiology is prime for eating a healthy amount of great-tasting, natural food.

Step 2- Find Your Own Eating Style

With so many diets and eating protocols out there today, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options — and to wonder which is the “right” approach to eating.

Focusing on finding the “perfect” approach to eating can diminish the joy of your basic eating rituals — and leave you feeling uninspired, guilty, and confused.

Let me spill the beans here the “right” approach to eating is what works for you, your lifestyle, level of activity and body type.

Here are a few tips to finding your own eating style:

  • Firstly, consider your fitness goals, personal preferences, budget, lifestyle and health 
  • Identify nutritious options that match your personal taste preferences, this is the best way to build better eating habits that stick around. 
  • Find a healthy, balanced meal plan that includes foods that you enjoy eating. 
  • Choose a nutrition protocol that you can stick to long term (think of eating healthfully as a lifestyle change.)
  • Embrace flexibility and shades of grey – be gentle with yourself and don’t beat yourself up when you lapse.

Remember – You don’t have to sacrifice everything to get results, try to be compassionate and kind with yourself.

Step 3 – “Slow Down” Eating Style

Eating too fast has become the norm of our busy lives.

And this reflects in how fast we eat, always rushing to get to the next thing, affecting our relationship with food.

Marc David, MA, founder and director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating and author of 

The Slow Down Diet (Healing Arts Press, 2005) says that “Learning how to slow down with food is a metaphor for slowing down with life.”

When you eat too fast, you bypass food’s sensory pleasure both biochemically and neurologically, this has the effect of slowing the metabolism and diminishing your body’s ability to burn that food as fuel.

Here are some tips to help you slow down and enjoy your meals:

1.Make Your Meal Time Longer 

  • For example, if you usually eat dinner in five minutes – take 10. 
  • Remember that the more time you take for a meal the better your body is able to determine when you are full.

2. Take five slow, deep breaths

  • This will switch on to the body’s relaxation response 
  • Breathing deeply expands the diaphragm, stimulating the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the colon and activates the relaxation response.

3. Consciously Slow Down

  • Use your non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, eat with your left hand. Research indicates this will slow you down by 30 percent. 
  • Remember to take a drink. Taking a sip naturally inserts a pause moment

Step 4 – Eat with Awareness

Being aware and listening to your body’s responses will give your brain time to realize what’s happening and help you to avoid overeating.

Awareness will bring you into a more mature relationship with food and away from the habitual.

Here are some tips to help you eat with awareness:

  • Schedule a dedicated time to sit down at a table and savour your food
  • Ask your body what it wants – Tune in to your body’s intelligence about what to eat and listen
  • Avoid distractions -When it’s time to eat avoid distractions like watching TV
  • Let your brain register the sensations of eating: “That tasted good,” or, “I think I’m full now.”
  • Check in with yourself – Fifteen to 30 minutes after you eat, check in with yourself.You will start to notice how your body reacts when you eat certain foods. For example, “When I eat breakfast cereal, I end up craving sugar all morning.”

Wrapping Up

Every relationship has its ups and downs, and our relationship with food is no different.

It can run you through a range of emotions at times but you can use them as an opportunity to seek support, reframe your mindset and ultimately heal your relationship with food.

Now I would love to hear from you…

What step will work best for you?

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)