Did you know that the longest relationship you will have in your lifetime is your relationship with food? Every day we choose what we eat, when we eat, and why we eat – that’s a lot of choice! Fueling our bodies requires constant decision-making, and this decision-making can be influenced by many factors.
Daily decision-making in terms of our diet can become complicated when we have goals like weight loss in mind. Oftentimes, restricting foods and labelling them as good or bad can lead to food restriction. In turn, food restriction often leads to overeating and guilt. In addition to feeling guilty about eating certain foods, we also tend to eat to fulfill emotional needs – and that’s why the sweet, rich and creamy taste of ice-cream feels so comforting when the rest of your life feels so uncomfortable.
Over a lifetime, due to the messages we receive about food, and the ever-changing relationship we have with our body and body image, our relationship with food can become complex. Luckily, you can still achieve your weight loss goals, and curb emotional eating by working to repair your relationship with food. Copeman registered dietitian Britney Lentz has three dietitian-approved tips to improve your relationship with food so that you can achieve your goals, without the guilt. Watch the video below, or read the article for Britney’s tips.
1: Stop labelling food as good or bad
Food is not a moral issue – even though we’re bombarded with messages about what we should or shouldn’t be eating. When we label foods as bad, we feel guilt. In turn, guilt makes us stressed and anxious, which does not help our relationship with food!
Oftentimes foods we label as “bad”, such as chocolate cake, cookies, or an indulgent cocktail, are essential parts of social gatherings, and one of life’s real pleasures. By eliminating labels from food, we get the opportunity to have a more neutral approach to food. This allows us to look at different foods with a mindful, curious approach, as we determine how these different foods make us feel, without judgement. Of course, eating chocolate cake for breakfast every morning will not make you feel very good, but having a piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party? Go for it, without the guilt.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that all foods are made up of the same macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It’s also important to know that your body knows how to break down these macronutrients – so trust in that body! A Buddha bowl with brown rice, tofu, and veggies has protein, carbs, and fats. Guess what? That chocolate chip cookie also contains proteins, carbs and fats. No matter what food you eat, it’s going to have a combination of these nutrients – so go easy on yourself, your body knows what to do with these foods!
2: Re-frame your fun foods
Re-frame the way you think about those less-nutritious foods, and figure out where they fit into your diet instead of eliminating them. While of course, focusing on fruits, vegetables, proteins, and complex carbohydrates is important, so is having fun by eating fun foods! Food is tradition, culture, family BBQs and ice-cream on a hot day. By re-framing “bad” foods as “fun”, or “play” foods, we give ourselves permission to eat them as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
3: Remember health is a journey, and you’re always learning!
A positive relationship with food is a journey – don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get it right away! Use every meal as an opportunity to explore and recognize how you see food. Re-framing food guilt into something more positive doesn’t start right away, but by being mindful about your food choices and practicing developing a healthy, judgement-free relationship with food, you are doing your part!
If you have additional diet related questions, or are looking for help re-framing your relationship with food, book an appointment with a Copeman Healthcare registered dietitian today.