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"A toxic relationship food? Is that even possible?" - Absolutely!
It may not be as noticeable as an ex-partner or an authoritarian boss, but it is necessary to understand how you relate to food if you want to simplify your weight loss journey (and who doesn't want to make that process EASIER?).
Food, glorious food! Can I get an Amen?
Food, in all its marvellous forms, is why we're all alive today. Physically, it sustains us with the nutrients to keep our bodies going (for better or worse). Emotionally, it accompanies us at happy social events like birthdays, celebrations and reunions, as well as consoles us in sad times - farewell do's and break-ups.
But have you ever stopped to think of the value or meaning that you assign to food?
Food psychology is the study of the mental processes behind how and why we eat. It includes that beyond the need to eat for survival, our eating habits are greatly influenced by our perception of food as well as various other social and environmental factors.¹
How was food treated and discussed when you were younger and growing up?
Did your Gram-gram tell you that "good girls don't have second helpings"?
Was your mom obsessed with her image?
Did your dad count every calorie he consumed?
Was food a blessing and appreciated in the home?
Were you raised without the terms "good" and bad" foods?
Each of us learned how to behave and experience the world by watching what our parents or guardians showed us and told us. The environment that was created in which you were raised and your parent's feeding habits had an impact on how you perceive food.
A dietary study at the University of Milan, Italy, reported that having a positive parental role model can be more effective than attempting to control dietary habits.²
Usually, in your early adult years (or when you begin buying your own groceries and making your own meals) you begin to invent your own opinion about food.
For example, perhaps you don't want to cook everything in butter as your father did, or you will treat yourself to a small tub of ice cream once a week because your mother never let you have any as a child.
So how do you currently feel about food?
When you stop and give attention to how it makes you feel and what reaction arises, what do you think?
Is food the villain on your almighty quest to lose weight? Like the dragon guarding the precious treasure of your ideal body image?
Or do you believe that food is a delicious blessing that simply needs to be controlled/balanced and is to be relished throughout your days on this earth?
If dieting and counting calories are forced on you (or you are forcing it onto yourself), then it's no surprise that you will harbour negative feelings towards food. But it's not the food itself that is causing you stress - it's what you are projecting onto the act of eating.
How you feel about food is a direct reflection of how it will affect your body and your weight loss progress. When you give food a negative wrapping then that is exactly the way you will experience it - in a negative manner.
When you have a neutral to positive expectation for the outcome, you allow the possibility to receive positive results.
What a harmful relationship with food may look like:
Feelings of disgust or humiliation after eating
Restricted eating - forced "eating windows" / rejection of foods and food groups
Unable to stick to a diet for long stretches (Yo-yo dieting)
Not eating all day only to binge at night or over weekends
Not listening to internal cues to eat & stop eating or how the food makes you feel (nausea, indigestion, etc.)
Spending too much time and mental energy planning meals that you're unable to enjoy your life fully
Feeling that "food is the enemy"
Rewarding yourself with food
What a wholesome relationship with food may look like:
No feelings of guilt or shame before or after eating
No restrictions - on times to eat, foods to not eat, etc
Controlled eating habits - portion sizes and cravings
Being mindful of what you're eating and how it makes you feel
Able to enjoy social events by not stressing about the food being served (enjoying that birthday/wedding cake!)
Food is NOT a reward
Intuitive eating is practised - listening to your body's internal cues for hunger and satiation
You know the difference between dieting and a healthy eating lifestyle
How many of the bullet points in each section do you relate to?
Let us know in the comments below.
If being told to "eat your broccoli or else," as a kid hardly worked, then why are you using the same tactics on yourself as an adult?
"...eating holds positive consequences for well-being as well as to the understanding that being positive about eating may bring positive effects." ³ From a review article titled: How food overconsumption has hijacked our notions about eating as a pleasurable activity.
When you begin to have a healthy relationship with food, you'll realise that food was always meant to be enjoyed and appreciated, on your own, and with friends and family. You'll also realise the bullsh*t that is told in marketing and mainstream media about "the best weight loss food/diet/diet pill/ teas, etc" because weight loss is a personal experience - that means what works for others won't necessarily work for you.
Do you want guidance to have a happy and healthy relationship with food AND see progress with your weight loss journey? Book a CONSULTATION CALL below and receive your personalized action plan today.
Written by: Andrea Thelen of AuthenticAndrea44
¹ WIP. (2013, February 15). What is food psychology? - definition: What is psychology? What is Psychology? - from https://www.whatispsychology.biz/about-food-psychology-definition
² Scaglioni S, Salvioni M, Galimberti C. Influence of parental attitudes in the development of children eating behaviour. Br J Nutr. 2008 Feb;99 Suppl 1:S22-5. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114508892471.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18257948/
³ Denise de Ridder, Marleen Gillebaart, How food overconsumption has hijacked our notions about eating as a pleasurable activity, Current Opinion in Psychology, Volume 46,2022,101324, ISSN 2352-250X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2022.101324.
DISCLAIMER: All blog posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only. Any advice or recommendations given in these posts does not supersede directions received by a licensed medical professional (i.e. doctor, psychiatrist, nurse, psychologist, etc), nutritionist, dietician or your personal trainer. The reader is responsible for their own health and well-being.