Here’s a story I’ve never shared on the internet: once in college, I was dating a guy who asked me to be his girlfriend by saying, and I quote, “Maybe I should change my Facebook status,”.
I KNOW. I was so smitten, instead of being annoyed by his indirect inquiry, I said “Yeah, that sounds good,” and went about my day. That evening, when I checked Facebook I noticed he had indeed changed his relationship status- from ‘Single’ to… absolutely nothing. NOTHING at all. Way to leave a girl hanging, right?!
Fortunately, his lack of solid commitment eventually dissipated and we’ve been married for ten years.
I figured, at least he didn’t change it to ‘It’s complicated.” Does your relationship with food feel like it’s status should say, “It’s complicated?”
I know this is the truth that so many of the women I work with hold. They want to eat the healthy things and live the healthy life… but they love food and wine and balance just feels so elusive.
But here’s the thing: one of the most powerful shifts we can make in our journey to living our healthiest lives is to cultivate a positive relationship with food.
When we have a positive relationship with food, we see food for all that it is- nourishment for our cells, fuel for our body and pleasure for our bodies and brains. When we stop seeing food as the enemy and start seeing it as an ally in living our healthiest, happiest lives, we can quit the complicated on-again, off-again cycle and embrace food as a joyful and valuable part of our lives.
But it feels easier said than done, right? If you’ve been in an on-again, off-again relationship with food repairing it and building it back up takes time and intention.
The good news? A solid foundation creates a solid relationship so you can ditch the on-again, off-again-- for good.
Here are four simple ways to begin to improve your relationship with food:
1. Ditch the labels. Labeling ourselves or our diet keep us trapped in a dichotomous relationship with food, where we’re either ‘good’ for sticking with the label, or ‘bad’ for veering off- and it prevents us from exploring the vast variety of foods that could potentially make us thrive- outside of a particular label.
2. Release the rules. A similar mindset to putting labels around your eating, putting rules or ‘shoulds’ around the foods you eat often results in a rebellion of sorts when you do allow yourself to loosen the reigns- feeling bad or guilty for breaking the rules, and deciding you blew it- you might as well give up altogether (but you’ll start again on Monday). This keeps us trapped in a cycle of absolute thoughts and anxious feelings around food- the ‘lack of control’ many of us feel around our favorite foods. Allowing permission lowers the appeal of these foods, and we can enjoy them freely, without overindulgence.
3. Eat what YOU love. Not what you’re supposed to love-- but what YOU love. There are no good or bad foods- food has no moral value! Satisfaction is an essential element to a positive relationship with food, because when you eat the foods you love on a regular basis, you’re more satisfied with less- and you begin to remove the guilt and shame that comes when you eat a food you enjoy (that you feel like you shouldn’t). You’ll start to recognize that the variety of foods you love increases when you remove the labels and the rules from food, and start to choose the foods you truly love to eat.
4. Practice mindful eating. Eating mindfully- honoring your hunger and fullness, slowing down and removing distractions enhances the pleasure and joy in the eating experience. When you’re feeling guilty, eating when you’re ravenous, always eating on the go or consistently eating past fullness, food is less joyful and our relationship becomes strained. A positive relationship with food includes regular positive food experiences!
If you’re still feeling like it’s too soon to take away the ‘It’s complicated’ status, that’s ok- and it’s exactly why I created my signature 8-week online course, Uncomplicated Eating.
This 8-week self-paced course will teach you the exact steps to uncomplicate your relationship with food and learn to eat in a way that serves you and your body, without the stress.
How to create positive goals and intentions around wellness
How to tune in and trust your body
How to overcome emotional eating
How to simplify nutrition
How to create wellness routines and rituals to support health, without rules
Ready? Learn more and sign up here.
Here’s to you and food, and your solid “in a relationship” status.