Are you having a hard time getting your cravings under control? Does figuring out what to eat feel like it’s dictating your day-to-day? Are you finding yourself feeling guilty after straying away from your meal plan? Yes? You’re not alone, I can promise you that.
As a holistic health coach, I fully believe in the healing power of a healthy connection with food and believe our relationship with eating to be one of the most emotional relationships in our life. Our eating habits and patterns are completely connected to how we’re feeling, the type of day we had, our perceived successes and failures, the type of workout we had (or didn’t have), and so much more than what meets the mouth. In order to live a fulfilling and joyous life, it is imperative to begin building a healthier relationship with the food that fuels you and move closer to understanding what it is your body is trying to tell you.
Are you ready? Here are seven ways to help you move closer achieving to a healthy relationship with food, and begin your own journey towards healing today.
Nourish your entire being.
Since the way we eat is so emotional, it’s not far-fetched to say that a lot of our over-eating and over-indulging tendencies so often stem from a place of lack and desire.
I so often find that those struggling with cravings and an insatiable appetite are oftentimes feeling unfulfilled in a crucial area or two in their life.
In order to heal our relationship with food, we must examine aspects of our life outside of what and how we’re eating. Nourishing your entire being means: getting enough sleep at night and waking up with a clear mind and a rested body; drinking enough water to flush out toxins and keep your body working at its best; spending quality, screen-free time with those you love and allowing yourself to connect deeply with them; moving your body and breaking a sweat to help increase blood flow and stimulate your appetite; managing your stress before it becomes too much; it means loving yourself, unconditionally.
Once you’ve figured out what being mindful means to you, it’s amazing how having this mindset can change the way you think about your relationship with food. To most aware beings, being mindful in a food relationship means being wholly present and fully aware, as well as having the desire to listen actively – just like in any other relationship!
By being present and aware while eating a meal, we are able to actively enjoy what we’re engaging in. We experience the flavor, texture, and the way food actually makes us feel. Additionally, when we actively listen to our body paired with being more aware of what we’re eating, we tend to stop noshing when we’re full. We are able to slow down and enjoy the moment and fill up on the total experience of eating a meal instead of mindlessly consuming until our pants want to pop.
Forget the word “cheat”.
The word “cheat” is oftentimes used in the context of “today is my cheat day” or “I’m eating this cheeseburger for my cheat meal.” Sound familiar? In order to begin to heal your relationship with food, this mentality needs to change. In a healthy food relationship, when you choose to eat the simple carbohydrate-heavy, vegetable-lacking (but oh so yummy) bowl of your favorite spaghetti, you are in control and acknowledge that you chose to eat that way out of your own desire. You are able to enjoy the pasta without feelings of “cheating” or guilt, and know that with your strong decision-making power, your next meal can be your favorite salad with all the toppings. (Or not!) What’s best for you? The choice is yours.
When you have a mentality centered on cheating, all you end up cheating on is yourself and your opportunity to cultivate a positive relationship with food.
Shift your mindset, stand tall in your decision-making power, and knock that five-letter word out of your vocabulary. You won’t miss it, I promise!
Don’t use food as a reward.
As I tell my clients, you are not a dog. Rewarding yourself with food creates the idea that you must struggle in some way in order to justify enjoying a slice of your favorite cake or a friend’s homemade brownie. For example, a frustrating week at work does not warrant you to over-indulge in pizza on Friday night. Get real with yourself about the why behind what’s driving you to feel the need to make less-than-ideal food choices. Perhaps an idea or two came to mind when you read tip #1?
From there, think about indulging in self-love and unwinding with a weekend spa day. Once your emotions are under control (and you feel a bit less-stressed), by all means, enjoy a slice or two of your favorite pizza. Be aware that you consciously made the choice to indulge instead of being driven there by the emotional desire to reward yourself because you “earned it” by struggling in some way.
Remember, you are not a dog, do not reward yourself with food.
Listen to your gut.
This idea goes hand-in-hand with practicing mindfulness while eating. Listening to what your gut is trying to tell you takes time, patience, and awareness, but can save you from a lot of uncomfortable bloating and discomfort, as well as weight gain down the road.
To begin to heal your relationship with food, one must have an idea of what is causing discomfort and pain. Food-related reactions tend to show up in as little as 15 minutes or as long as 72 hours post-eating. If you’re someone that is constantly bloated or suffering from diarrhea or constipation, consider working with a professional who can help you pinpoint exactly what’s going on and possibly triggering your reactions.
Embrace the idea of balance.
Life is all about give and take, and I feel the same way about our relationship with eating. To have a healthy relationship with food, one must not be too restrictive or too indulgent. You must establish a guilt-free happy medium, filled with your favorite pastas, delicious fruits, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, quality protein, leafy green salads with all the veggies, and enjoying the occasional brownie.
As I mentioned above, you’re not “cheating” when you carefully indulge in something you enjoy eating, you’re embracing the idea of balance. While treating yourself and working on your balance, envision always coming back to a place where nourishing your body with nutritious and delicious food is a priority.
Drink more water.
Committing to drink more water will not only provide you with a long list of health benefits, it will also help you to heal your relationship with food. How, you ask? The mind isn’t able to differentiate between hunger and thirst signals, and oftentimes this leads us to reach for another unnecessary snack when all you really needed was a tall drink of water. Additionally, water is satiating and when we consume enough of it, paired with a well-balanced meal, the body sends the right messages to the brain and says, “Okay, I’m nourished now, thank you!”
The next time you feel a rumble in your stomach shortly after eating, reach for a glass of water and save yourself from over-doing it on the post-meal snacking. Better yet, try drinking a tall glass of water 10 to 15 minutes before you start your meal!
As you can see, there are many steps you can take to start healing your relationship with food in this very moment. Finding balance and becoming more mindful undoubtedly takes time and commitment, just like any other relationship in your life, but I can assure you the end-result is so worth it. Above all, love yourself enough to feed your body the food it craves and needs to flourish. You’re worth it.
Want a free guide on making space for weight loss? Check out our eBook ‘Light Wisdom’.