Most of us have no idea. We’ve been fighting food and our bodies our whole lives, operating in perpetual state of guilt and restriction, that the thought of not living this way almost feels unnatural, right?
When I ask my clients, what it would look like to have a healthy relationship with food, all they can really tell me is what an UNhealthy relationship looks like, but it’s as if they don’t even know how to imagine life without constantly judging their food choices and bodies.
So let me ask…What does a healthy relationship with food look like to you?
Take a minute and really think through it. Even close your eyes and see what it looks like for you. How does it feel in your mind and body? What would be different? What sensations does it bring? Envision yourself sitting down to your favorite meal and, instead of focusing on how many calories it contains or how you’re going to burn it off, you take in the aroma of the meal, the sounds around you, the company of those you’re with, and the pleasure and satisfaction that accompanies each bite.
Unconditional Permission to Eat all Foods
For me personally, it’s complete freedom of and permission to eat all foods, free of judgement and guilt. It’s being able to eat whatever I want, when I want it, and stopping when I’m comfortably full; because I know I can have that food at any other time I want.
Having a healthy relationship with food means saying yes to pizza with a friend on a Monday without making deal with myself to cut carbs the next day. It means not counting calories or eating something because I “should,” but don’t want to, and not being consumed by thoughts of food all day long.
Having a healthy relationship with food also means that I choose not to eat something simply because of the way it makes me feel, not because it’s not allowed. Because I give myself permission to eat all foods at any time, I now make choices based on what sounds good, but also how I’m wanting to feel. A large pizza sounds delicious, but eating the whole thing would leave me feeling lethargic and uncomfortably full, and I’ve never regretted stopping at two pieces 😉
Ditch the Food Rules
When you eliminate the rules and requirements, shoulds and should nots, you take the emotion out of eating. Certain foods no longer feel like they have power over you, stripping you of all control, like they do when you’re restricting and depriving.
So, now when you eat, instead of being consumed with negative thoughts and feelings of guilt, you can drop in and be with the experience of eating; noticing all the subtleties and cues that are occurring. This, combined with permission, allows you to eat in relation to what your body needs in that moment, instead of stuffing yourself out of a reaction of eating foods that are “bad” or forbidden.
Healing Your Relationship with Food takes Time
It’s like learning a new language and goes against everything you’ve been taught, which means it takes PRACTICE. It also takes compassion, patience, and a willingness to shift your perspective from seeing your eating behaviors as flawed and undisciplined, to viewing them as learning experiences.
For example, continuing to binge on and off isn’t a character defect. Bingeing might symbolize restrictive food rules you’re imposing on yourself or it could simply be an old coping mechanism keeping you from feeling or seeing something deeper. When we are able to approach eating with curiosity and openness, truth will be unveiled and you will begin to see the patterns, beliefs, and mechanisms at play behind the scenes. And these, my friend, provide a doorway to freedom.
I’d love to hear from you and if you’re struggling with your own relationship with food, I’d love to hear about it. You can reach out here or through email or phone. And if you want to learn more about how I can help, you can read about it here.