What is a Healthy Relationship with Food?
Most people understand the importance of having wholesome relationships in the home, with romantic partners and in the workplace. Yet how many of us consider the relationship we have with the very thing that keeps us alive, food? Issues with eating take more forms than just obesity, anorexia and bulimia. You may look and feel normal and yet still have an unhealthy relationship with food, which can manifest as an eating disorder.
If you’ve struggled to have a positive and nurturing relationship with what you eat, you’re in the right place. In this article we’ll look at how to develop a healthy relationship with food — starting today.
Signs of a Healthy Relationship With Food
While having an appropriate weight for your body size can be a sign of proper use of food, it’s only one part of the equation. Just as revealing is the attitude you have toward food. Here are some signs of a healthy attitude:
- You try to eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet that includes all food groups, with consideration for medical problems if applicable;
- You eat throughout the day when you’re hungry and know when to stop so that you feel satisfied but not uncomfortable;
- You enjoy the actual act of eating and stay mindful throughout instead of using it as a way to distract or numb emotions;
- You care about what you put into your body without letting it consume your thoughts, feelings and actions;
- You allow for occasional, moderate indulgence and treat yourself kindly when you make a poor food choice.
These are the primary signs of a healthy relationship with food. While we all have off days, if you consistently find yourself at odds with these symptoms listed above, consider consulting with a professional to determine the extent of your struggles with wholesome eating.
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship With Food
A toxic food relationship is more than just the opposite of the above. It usually comprises specific beliefs and behaviors, such as the following:
- Experiencing guilt, shame or fear when you eat;
- Counting every calorie and measuring exact portion sizes;
- Eliminating complete food groups without a medical need;
- Using food as emotional medication;
- Losing control when you eat;
- Consuming meals too quickly;
- Thinking about food all day long;
- Being secretive about your eating habits;
- Skipping meals and dieting;
- Purging after you eat.
The last two are telltale signs of anorexia and bulimia, respectively. Binge eating entails consuming an excessive amount of food without being able to stop. However, you don’t have to go to extreme measures to qualify as having an eating disorder. If you struggle with any of these symptoms, you may still fall on the spectrum.
How To Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food
Depending on the severity of your unhealthy connection to food, you may be able to transform the relationship on your own or with only the support of your family and friends. Activities such as practicing mindfulness meditation, cooking from scratch and tending a home garden, can help you make positive associations with food and eating.
In cases where your health is at risk and your disorder is interfering with everyday life, you may need professional assistance in rewiring the way you view nutrition. According to Mayo Clinic, treatment generally includes medical attention if necessary, individual counseling, different forms of therapy and educational courses. You may require an inpatient program, outpatient program or both.
Getting help for co-occurring disorders is also a crucial piece of creating a healthy relationship with food. According to National Eating Disorder Association, there is a high prevalence of comorbid eating disorders and mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. This may mean additional therapy or outside services to streamline your recovery.
Adjusting Your Mindset
In treatment for an eating disorder, it’s likely that you’ll find one of your biggest barriers to recovery is a mindset. When you become accustomed to an eating disorder controlling your actions and your life, it is difficult but critical that you make the mental shift and take back the power. In therapy you will learn how to get a healthy relationship with food so you can conquer everyday struggles.
While the battle may be slow won, this component of treatment is essential and will make the difference in long-lasting recovery. After all, if you don’t have the mental peace you need to handle triggers around food, relapse is inevitable. In inpatient and outpatient treatment you’ll build these skills and tools you need to overcome an eating disorder.
Achieve the healing you need through the Seeds of Hope eating disorder program. With treatment options for adults, teens, and children, anyone can recover from an unhealthy relationship with food. Contact us to find out if this treatment program is right for you, (610) 644-6464.