Changing your relationship with food is not an easy challenge. It can be a tough mental and physical process but there are ways to help you start your journey and get you on the right track.
Although there is no ‘one correct way’ to eat there are factors that can help you have a healthier happier relationship with food. You should be able to enjoy your life through food and all the variety it brings.
Stop looking at food as a reward
Here at MotivatePT we love to exercise and make our clients feel their best. However, exercise should not be a free pass to then go and eat whatever you want afterwards. If you are tracking your calories during a workout so that you can then replace those calories with food afterwards that is not a healthy mindset. A big step in re-training your brain is to not associate exercise with eating. You should consume the right amount of calories for your body regardless of if you’ve exercised or not. By doing this it will stop you from looking at food as a reward and hopefully help with the obsession around calories in vs calories out.
Get rid of the junk food in your home
As humans, we eat when we’re bored or emotional and not just when we need it. The danger with this is that you can trick your brain into thinking you need food even if you’re not hungry so you head to the fridge to see what you can snack on. Especially now, if you are working from home this may be a whole new challenge in itself. The best way to stop unnecessary snacking is to keep junk and overly processed food out of your house.
Re-learn what it feels like to be hungry and what it feels like to be full.
One reason that you may binge at night is that you have been restricting yourself all day trying to be ‘good’. So by the time the evenings come around you’re starving and therefore overeat. It is a great help to know what it feels like when you are full and satisfied and when you are actually hungry (and not hungry from boredom). By understanding your body you will be able to listen to it more and understand what you need. One great way to do this, is to eat slowly. Pause during your meal so your stomach can catch up with you and let you know if it needs more! We all know that feeling where we eat really fast and feel sick afterwards. This approach will eliminate that feeling.
Try to enjoy your food
Your relationship with food is an ongoing process so by truly enjoying your food you will begin to fuel your body. There is so much out there to enjoy and experience and eating should be on that list. Experiencing food from different cultures and cuisines should be something you enjoy doing and should inspire you with so many recipes and ideas for healthy living and eating.
Understand your emotions
If you find yourself reaching for something naughty ask yourself if you are really hungry and if this is really what you want right now. If the answer is yes to both then go ahead. However, if you find that you aren’t really hungry think to yourself why am I craving food? We are used to filling our bodies with food when we are emotional but most of the time we never stop to listen to what our body really wants. Try not to bury your emotions in food but rather feel them out and fully embrace them.
This transition to having a healthy relationship with food may feel overwhelming at times but it is important to remember that food fuels your body and gives you the energy to do things that you love. It will take time and patience but once you have made the transition you will feel so much better for doing so. And honestly, life is a lot more fun when you’re not focused on food every minute of the day.
Two ideas in actioning this, is to pause and do something else, e.g. have a cup of water. Are you actually thirsty and not hungry? OR go for a walk. If you are still hungry after your walk then you know you need to eat, but if you were feeling stressed or anxious that walk may have been all you needed to clear your head!