9 Characteristics of Healthy Relationships That Can Transform Your Relationship with Food
The interactions you have with food should be nurturing and fulfilling, but it is often too common that we develop unhealthy relationships with food. Food holds incredible power to nourish our bodies, represent cultures, create connection and unite communities. Food also has the power to create disease, evoke feelings of shame and guilt, and provide a numbing escape from life’s pain and suffering. Food quality, fad diets, marketing, and a busy life contribute to and complicate our relationship with food.
Your relationship with food should be treated like any other relationship in your life. If we apply common relationship practices to our relationship with food, we can learn how to improve our relationship with one of life’s most valuable activities. Let’s take a look:
1. Stay out of an abusive relationship
Negative emotions like anger, shame, or guilt can be part of a normal human experience. However, if eating is consistently evoking these emotions this should be a wake-up call—you might be in an abusive and unhealthy relationship. Let’s learn how to improve this relationship; you deserve better! For example, avoid being too controlling or abusive with food. Try having dessert once a week instead of every night or serve smaller portions at each meal. It’s healthy to take breaks from our favorite and our most indulgent foods. Doing so provides numerous health benefits and allows you to deepen respect and appreciation for flavors and aromas that are all part of the eating experience. Remember, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
2. Don’t sabotage a good relationship
You have been eating healthy for two weeks, consistently found time to exercise, your pants are feeling looser, and you have more energy than you have had in what feels like years! You are at the top of your game, and confidence levels are high. It is at this exact moment that you sabotage all of your progress in one weekend. Sometimes it can be scary when a relationship moves to the next level, but that doesn’t mean you should miss the opportunity to allow your relationship with food to flourish.
3. Maintain healthy boundaries
Learn how to say yes and no, and try not to bite off more than you can chew. It is important to be in tune with your body. It is okay to slow down and take your time before making decisions. Be patient and hold out for the food that is most important, a good relationship is worth the wait!
4. You can’t rely on a relationship to make you happy
A relationship won’t fix you! If you are using food to escape or complete you—you are in an unhealthy relationship. It’s time to be honest with yourself, develop self-love, and work on ways to build coping mechanisms and allow yourself to feel all of the emotions.
5. Minimize negativity
If negative thoughts about food interfere with your ability to think clearly throughout your day, it’s time to work on rewiring your brain for more positive thinking. If you have a hard time correcting or reframing your own negative thinking, try to surround yourself with people who have a positive relationship with food. It is easier to change your behavior if you are in a positive and supportive environment with healthy models.
6. Make food a priority
How do you rank food on a daily basis? Are there days where you put your job, errands, or kid’s activities first? Are you taking food for granted? Are there days or weeks where you have completely neglected entire food groups like fiber or vegetables? While It’s easy to put food on the back burner in the short-term, you are the one that will suffer in the long run.
7. Honoring commitments
When you have established a healthy relationship with food, it will be easy to maintain your commitments and minimize the desire to stray. There is always going to be tempting food around, but giving in to temptation too often will prevent you from achieving long-term fulfillment.
8. Be present
Put down your cell phone and turn off the TV! In the world we live in, it is easy to be distracted while we eat. Mindful eating means you savor every bite, chew thoroughly, and listen to your body’s signals. Your connection to food can only be developed when you are present.
9. Keep it exciting!
Avoid stagnation and boredom with variety. Spice it up! Keep the relationship fresh by trying new recipes and ingredients, plain chicken breast with steamed broccoli every night is not sustainable. Learn a new skill by purchasing a new kitchen appliance like a bread maker, mandoline, or spiralizer. A relationship with food should be fun and enjoyable! Despite what you may have been told as a child, it is important to play with your food!
Developing a healthy relationship with food takes time and attention. Depending on your upbringing, you may have never learned the skills essential to develop healthy relationships. Be patient with yourself no matter where you are and allow yourself to make mistakes. Developing healthy and fulfilling relationships takes practice and the process can be enjoyable!
If you like this approach to improving your relationship with food, you will love The Ultimate Guide to Healthy and Long-Lasting Weight Loss. In this free course, we discuss how to overcome weight loss obstacles with a focus on mastering habits, learning from your food cravings, and balancing hormones.
Continue growing and nourishing your relationship with food. It is truly an adventure, enjoy the ride!