Trying to navigate through this world where we are bloody obsessed and addicted to our appearance, our weight and dieting culture is a mind field! There is so much advice out there telling us how to have a healthy food relationship, it can feel pretty overwhelming! Especially if you are the one struggling inside and finding yourself becoming more and more preoccupied by food and weight, developing an unhealthy food relationship.
But I want you to know this is not your fault- our society is breeding unhealthy relationships with food and poor body image by constantly exposing us to subtle manipulating messages with the underlying premise that we need to change the way we look to be happy and successful.
I want to give you just one key tip that will help filter out all the noise, all the advice out there which will help you to start to take a stand against your inner struggles with yourself and your body and finally have a healthy food relationship.
Unfortunately, I did not have this awareness and at just 16 I embarked on my first diet because I believed I was too big for guys to find me attractive. What was the effect of me not addressing my problems early on? My unhealthy relationship with food quickly developed into severe Anorexia and Bulimia at 19 which stayed with me for 10 years. I cannot let that happen to you- we need to push back against diet culture and bring more awareness to our thoughts, feelings and behaviours around food to catch ourselves out when we feel we are headed down the wrong path!
So, how to have a healthy food relationship? I will give you some examples of the types of thoughts you may be finding yourself thinking:
I can’t eat that
I shouldn’t eat that
I mustn’t eat that
These foods are bad
These foods will make me fat so I can’t eat them
These foods are not low enough in calorie so I will have to swap them for something else
I can’t eat after 7pm
I don’t know what is in this meal so I can’t eat it
Can you tell the patterns?
A Negativity bias towards food!
What is this?
Our tendency to show a greater reaction and response to things of a more negative nature and these have a bigger impact on our mental state than things which are neutral or positive.
But again, some of this is not your fault- our brains evolved to get us to focus more on negative rather than positive information as a way of alerting us to any danger and therefore to keep us safe.
As we start to build up this negativity towards food they will be stored much more easily than positive experiences- therefore we are more likely to register a negative experience with food than we are to take in a happy, fun experience. This negativity bias can also cause us to dwell, obsess and worry about something negative even if a positive counterpart is equally present.
So how do we break this bias to stop us developing an unhealthy food relationship?
1. it is time to start noticing how you are speaking to yourself around food and what is running the show- are negative thoughts and feelings the leading act?
2. Make a list of all the words you typically use highlight all the negative words or phrases.
3. Replace with a positive, kind and realistic alternative to stop your brain focusing and storing negativity
For example, let’s look a phrase I used earlier:
“These foods will make me fat so I can’t eat them”.
Can change to
“No one food will make me automatically fat so I if I fancy this today I give myself permission to have a taste”.
No negatives in there.
It may feel difficult to replace something as strong as I can’t eat that to I can, so take this process slow. You may find it easier to change it to something slightly less negative, then neutral, to slightly more positive and finally positive.
This negative self-talk shapes how you think about yourself and others. You have a choice on what you allow to influence your mind. A better tactic is to stop those thoughts whenever they begin. Instead of fixating on past mistakes that cannot be changed, consider what you have learned and how you might apply that in the future.
There is no need to feel overwhelmed with all the information out there, just focus on this one key tip to nip any struggles with food and your appearance in the bud so you can move towards a healthy food relationship.
Watch out for the negativity bias in your thoughts and feelings and use those three steps to overcome this bias and start making steps back towards a healthy food relationship.
If you don’t want to just “cope” anymore and you want to overcome these issues once and for all, that’s going to take a more intensive level of therapy and coaching with someone to be there for you and support you throughout this challenging time.
Now could be the perfect time to resolve these issues once and for all and build your strength to come out the other side of this pandemic feeling confident, positive and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.
What feels like the worst time is in fact the best time to make these changes should you choose to see it in this new way.
Get started today and head to https://bookme.name/Masteryourmind to book your 1:1 appointment and take charge of your life.
In the meantime, join my private Facebook community called Women Living Unleashed:
Unlimited support, a community of like-minded women and weekly live therapy and coaching sessions covering all things around food, weight, body image, confidence and self-esteem.
How to have a healthy food relationship?