We must have a healthy relationship with food. When we eat because we’re hungry, we’re properly nourishing our bodies. We commonly hear the term “balance” when it comes to our eating habits, and for a good reason. It is one of the most important aspects of eating. When we’re balancing what we eat, it is a big indicator that we are eating for pleasure and hunger. These two types of eating are pivotal for good health. The food we consume should help power our bodies, but it is also important that we have positive feelings and experiences with food. If you’re wondering if you have an unhealthy relationship with food, there are several things you should pay attention to.
Chronic or Compulsive Dieting
According to University Health Services at Berkeley, Americans spend more than $40 billion a year on dieting and diet-related products. This equates to the amount the U.S. Federal Government spends on education each year. Our society is obsessed with dieting. Numerous studies link chronic dieting to a number of conditions, including low-self-esteem, feelings of depression, and increased stress. These unhealthy behaviors can lead to eating disorders. Those who chronically diet generally lose weight, regain it, and then diet. The process of yo-yo dieting isn’t healthy. What’s worse is that constant dieting, especially with severe calorie restriction, can make it harder to lose weight over time. The very thing you think you’re doing right will cause you more harm in the long run.
There are some pretty serious dangers associated with binge eating. This is commonly characterized by eating in secret, consuming food when you’re already full, and feeling a loss of control over what and how much you eat. “Most people would be surprised to learn that binge eating disorder is more than three times more common than bulimia and anorexia combined,” according to Kamran Samakar, MD. Some of the serious repercussions from binge eating include weight gain and obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) says if you find yourself binge eating one day a week for three months, you may have a binge eating disorder.
Guilt is a feeling you get when you believe you’ve done something wrong. Generally, we feel guilty when we do things like hurt someone, steal, lie, cheat, and are rude to others. What many people don’t realize is that feelings of guilt are taught. We feel guilt when we’re taught behavior is bad or wrong, and there is a consequence associated with it. These feelings that are usually taught at a young age can stay with you your whole life. We can feel guilt around food. Our diet driven culture tells us that the food we consume is either good or bad. We start to internalize these messages at a young age. If you were told that eating sweets is wrong at a young age, you might have a natural reaction to feel bad about eating them as an adult. If you want to stop feeling food guilt, you have to begin looking at it as a signal and challenge those beliefs. If you eat a slice of cake, know that your one piece of cake won’t make or break your health. Also, recognize that you may enjoy that piece of cake and feel satisfied. That’s ok. You should start digging deeper to recognize what is at the heart of your food guilt and challenge yourself to make peace with your eating.
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but there are many times where breakfast can get lost in the mayhem of our days. When we live especially busy lives, we often miss this meal. If you find yourself constantly or intentionally skipping breakfast, it can be an incredibly unhealthy move. When we skip meals, particularly our first meal of the day, it can cause our metabolism to slow down. Remember, breakfast gives us the energy to power our day. When we skip out on breakfast, we may be missing that boost of energy we need to get through the day, which can cause us to overeat later.
The Scale Makes or Breaks Your Day
Do you find yourself constantly weighing yourself daily, or even multiple times a day? Are you the person that has to weigh yourself with no clothes on because you want to make sure the scale doesn’t add even the smallest amount to the number? You continuously step on and off, praying that you will drop that extra half pound. When the number is low, the day is great. Your spirits are high, and you’re encouraged to keep working hard. Yet, when the number is higher than expected, your day is derailed. Your mood is shot. You question every single thing you ate and beat yourself up about it. You even consider giving up on weight loss or fitness altogether. These are signs you have an unhealthy relationship with food. The scale should never make or break your day. Use it as a log, but don’t get hooked on the daily number.
Rigid Rules Around Food
A sign you may not think points to unhealthy relationship food with rigid rules around food. Do you have specific times for eating, what good you can and can’t eat, that you must follow to a tee? These are signs that you have unhealthy, restrictive behaviors around food. Some of these behaviors can fuel eating disorders. This collection of thoughts, behaviors, and feelings can be detrimental to your weight, mood, and overall health.
If you have a negative relationship with food, it’s time to turn it into a positive one. Pay attention to your behaviors and figure why you’re treating food the way you are. Many of these unhealthy habits can be linked to bad experiences with food in our early years of life. The good thing is, we can unlearn the habits. Consider reprogramming so you can begin to look at food and the way you eat differently. The better our relationship with food, the healthier we’ll be.