Our lives are incomplete without food. It brings us together and brings us comfort. But have you ever wondered if your relationship with food is healthy? ToneOp is here with the answer.
A good relationship with food means permitting you to eat the foods that make you feel good. No food taboo; you feel guilty eating anything labelled good or bad.
You do not become fixated on food when you have a healthy connection with it in the middle of the night. However, you will have to work at it throughout your life, like it’s a relationship with your partner or friend.
What Is A Good Relationship With Food?
Understanding that your relationship with food goes beyond feeding your body is essential. Unlike animals, which only eat to survive, humans eat for various reasons, including joy, pleasure, culture, tradition, socialisation and strengthening their bodies.
Signs of a good relationship with food:
- You grant yourself complete freedom to indulge in your favourite foods.
- You listen to and respect your body’s natural hunger signals.
- When you are hungry, you eat; when you are full, you stop.
- No foods are prohibited. Do not get stuck on the scale number.
- You do not let other people’s opinions dictate what foods you eat.
What Is A Bad Relationship With Food?
A bad relationship with food usually means limiting or overeating, eating regularly, and feeling embarrassed or guilty about certain foods.
Signs of a bad relationship with food:
- You experience guilt after eating.
- Foods that are deemed “bad” for you are avoided or limited.
- You have a lengthy list of prohibited and permitted foods.
- To know when you are eating the “wrong way”, you rely on apps or calorie counters.
- History of the yo-yo diet or following the latest fad diets.
The primary sign that your relationship with food might deteriorate is when you feel shame, guilt, stress or anxiety about the food you eat.
What Is Emotional/Stress Eating?
Eating to meet your emotional needs and not your physical needs is known as emotional eating or emotional hunger or stress eating. This type of hunger comes on suddenly and is challenging to satisfy. Many also turn to food to feel good, relieve stress or reward themselves. We often reach for junk food, candy and other unhealthy comfort foods.
You can grab an ice cream when feeling down or order a pizza when bored or lonely after a hard day’s work. But unfortunately, emotional eating does not solve emotional problems. Instead, it usually makes you feel worse. After that, the original emotional issue remains, and you also feel guilty about overeating.
Common Causes Of Emotional/Stress Eating
Ever notice how stress makes you feel hungry? It is not just in your head. When stress is chronic, your body produces large amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. Food cravings for fried, sugary, and salty foods are triggered by cortisol. The more uncontrollable stress you experience, the more probable it is that you will turn to eat to relieve your emotions.
2. Suppressing Emotions
Eating may be a method to temporarily relax or “suppress” uncomfortable emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, fear, loneliness, resentment, and shame. Numbing yourself with food can help you avoid difficult emotions you would instead not feel.
3. Boredom Or A Feeling Of Emptiness
Do you ever eat to keep yourself busy, relieve boredom or fill a gap in your life? You feel unsatisfied and empty, and eating is a way to occupy your mouth and time. It satisfies you and serves as a diversion from your underlying sentiments of futility and discontentment with life.
4. Childhood Habits
Did your parents give you ice cream for being good, provide you with pizza when you received good grades or give you candy when you were feeling down? These habits can often persist into adulthood. Or your food habits are fueled by nostalgia, cherished childhood memories.
Tips To Improve Your Emotional Hunger
1. Take A Look At Your Eating Habits
What you eat is not always as important as how you eat. However, everything counts the total amount of food you eat, your attitude towards food, your eating habits and how you balance your meals and snacks.
2. Eat Slowly
Emotional eating often causes you to eat without thinking and lose track of how much you have eaten. Instead, slow down and focus on the food you are eating.
Develop deeper relationships with your partner, friends and family who are easy to communicate with when you are stressed. Engage in effective stress management techniques like journaling or breathing exercises.
4. Choose healthily
Choose healthy snacks like fresh vegetables, popcorn, nuts, berries and seeds. Make unhealthy food like a bag of chips or a candy bar hard to reach.
5. Drink Herbal Teas
Caffeine-free herbal tea will quell your late-night cravings and help you fall asleep. If stressed, try chamomile tea, lemon balm tea, ginger tea, or matcha tea.
The Bottom Line
While it may seem impossible to fix your bad relationship with food, it is possible to reach a state where food no longer controls you and promotes your overall well-being. Remember that food is not inherently good or bad. It is the labels you put on it that give it power.
A good and healthy relationship with food means embracing all food without reservation, seeing the value of food beyond calories and remembering that your value as a human is not dictated by the food you eat. As your relationship with food improves, you will notice less stress and worry about food and more food freedom.
- Overcoming Unhealthy And Emotional Relationships With Food - June 13, 2023