What does “good relationship with food” mean? 4 Ways to Know If You Have One

On a recent train ride, you couldn’t help but overhear two women in deep conversation about their mutual obsession with food, including the emotional triggers that drive them to chocolate and pizza.

They shared their feelings of guilt about their lack of willpower around food and regularly rummaged through the fridge looking for tasty treats to help calm the emotions. Both lamented that they could not stop and think before eating.

Their discussion went far beyond talking about the physiological requirements of food to fuel your body and meet your basic nutrient needs. Instead, it was very exciting.

It got me thinking about the importance of a healthy relationship with food, how eating behavior develops, and how to develop a good relationship. This is what a healthy food relationship can look like.

What does a good relationship with food mean?

You can check if your relationship with food is healthy by seeing how many items on this list you tick “yes”. You are:

  1. in tune with your body’s cues, meaning you’re aware of when you’re hungry, when you’re not, and when you’re full.

  2. eating adequate amounts and variety of foods from all food groups at regular intervals to meet your nutrient, health and well-being needs.

  3. comfortable eating with others and also eating alone.

  4. can you enjoy food without guilt or letting it dominate your life?

If you haven’t gotten many ticks, you need to work on improving your relationship with food.

Read more. Thinking you’re on a “diet” is half the battle, here’s how to be a mindful eater

Why is a good relationship with food important?

A very no response indicates that you may be using food as a coping mechanism in response to negative emotions. The problem is that this triggers the brain’s reward center, which means that even though you feel better, these behaviors are reinforced, so you’re more likely to continue eating in response to negative emotions.

Emotional eating and binge eating were more likely to be associated with eating disorder symptoms and poorer diet quality, including lower intake of vegetables and higher intake of nutrient-poor foods.

A review of studies on food addiction and mental health found that a healthy diet was associated with a lower risk of both disordered eating and food addiction. Higher consumption of vegetables and fruit was found to be associated with less stress, tension, anxiety and less joy among more than 8,000 Australian adults.

Constantly thinking about food throughout the day can mean an unhealthy relationship with food.
Marcel Heil/Unsplash

How to develop a healthy food relationship

There are ways to improve your relationship with food. Here are some tips.

1. Keep a food mood journal. Writing down when and where you eat and drink, who you’re with, what you do, and how it makes you feel will give you personal insight into when, what, and why you use what you do. This helps to increase awareness of emotions, including stress, anxiety, depression and the factors that influence eating and drinking.

2. Reflect on your writing in your food mood journal, especially why you eat when you eat. If the reasons include stress, low mood, or other emotions, create a distraction list that includes activities like going for a walk or listening to music, and put it on the refrigerator, whiteboard, or phone so it’s easily accessible.

3. Practice mindful eating. This means slowing down so that you are very aware of what is going on in your body and mind, moment by moment, as you eat and drink, without making any judgments about your thoughts and feelings. Mindless eating is when you eat without thinking at all. Being mindful means taking the time to check if you are truly hungry, or if the hunger in his eyes is from the sight of food, the hunger in his nose from the aromas from shops or cafes, emotional hunger, or real, stomach-rumbling hunger.

4. Know your nutrient needs. Knowing why your body needs specific vitamins and minerals and the foods they contain, rather than just mentally coding foods as good or bad, can help you let go of guilt. Banning bad foods makes you want them more and like them more. Mindfulness can help you appreciate foods that are both enjoyable and nutritious.

5. Focus on enjoying the food. Mindless eating can be reduced by focusing on the enjoyment of food and the pleasure that comes from preparing food and sharing it with others. For women concerned about a diet and weight control intervention, workshops were used to increase their awareness of food cues that prompt eating, including emotions or being in places they normally associate with eating, as well as food sensory cues. aspects including taste, touch, smell. , sound and texture. It also aimed to teach them how to enjoy the social, emotional and cultural aspects of food. The intervention resulted in reduced binge eating in response to emotional cues such as sadness and stress. Another review of 11 intervention studies that promoted the enjoyment and pleasure of eating found promising outcomes for healthy eating, including better diet quality, healthier portion sizes, healthier food choices, and greater liking for healthy foods. Participants also reported that healthy food tasted better and was easier to prepare at home.

Slices of pizza reaching for them
Sharing and enjoying food with others improves our relationship with food.
Klara Kulikova/Unsplash

Where to get help to improve your relationship with food

A healthy relationship with food also means the absence of disordered eating, including binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia.

If you or someone you know shows signs of disordered eating, such as regular use of restrictive practices to limit food intake, skipping meals, food rituals that dictate which foods or combinations to eat at certain times, binge eating, food feel out of control. , secret eating, inducing vomiting, or using diet pills, follow up with a doctor or health care provider.

You can get more information from InsideOut, the Eating Disorders Institute of Australia. Try their online nutritional relationship checker.

The Butterfly Foundation also has dedicated resources for parents and teachers and a helpline open from 8am to midnight, seven days a week on 1800 334673.

Read more. What is a balanced diet anyway?

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Image Source : theconversation.com

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