Healthy relationships bring out the best in us and help us feel good about ourselves. The same is true of our relationship with food and our bodies. A healthy relationship doesn’t equal a perfect relationship, but these seven contrasting characteristics may help you recognize the need to shift toward healthier behaviors.
Your relationship with food is a never-ending roller coaster. You nervously anticipate eating, and the anxiety continues throughout and/or after each meal. Eating certain amounts or types of foods feels unsafe. The thought of trying new foods is overwhelming.
In a healthy relationship, food is functional and fun. Eating is a relaxing, freeing experience where you are able to be yourself and remain true to your preferences. You enjoy eating and fueling consistently with satisfying meals and snacks that brings out the best in you.
Thoughts about food and your body claim a large percentage of your mental space each day. You’re obsessed with counting and tracking your nutrition, workouts, and measurements. Life centers around eating and exercise.
Once you’ve eaten enough of your meals and snacks, you’re able to move on until you get hungry again. Food stops occupying your thoughts and you have space to be yourself and engage in work, hobbies, and relationships with others.
Unhealthy: BODY BASHING
Your self-talk is constantly critical, and you deal with perpetual negative thoughts about the way you look. You hate your hereand-now body, and you spend your time, money, and energy trying to change it.
Healthy: BODY RESPECT
You have good and bad body image days, but regardless of how you feel about your body, you’re kind, compassionate, and caring toward yourself. You accept your body and have found things about it that you appreciate.
You’re either trying to eat extremely “clean” or you’re careless about your eating. Foods are categorized as “good” or “bad,” and diet culture controls your food choices.
Your eating feels balanced, and all foods are emotionally equivalent. You honor your cravings and listen to your body, and your food choices are congruent with how you want your body to feel. You value all types of food, knowing they serve a purpose, whether it be to nourish or to offer comfort, facilitate connection, or provide pleasure.
You’re unaware or accustomed to ignoring or overriding your body’s hunger and fullness cues. You continue to eat foods that make you feel poorly and have totally lost sight of your preferences. You isolate yourself from others when eating.
You’re working with your body, not against it by honoring hunger and fullness signals. Mealtimes offer time to regroup and reconnect with yourself and provide opportunities to connect and build relationships with family and friends.
When it comes to food, it’s all about willpower and self-control. You monitor every morsel that comes into your home or touches your plate. If you didn’t make it yourself, it doesn’t fit your plan, or it isn’t the correct time, you won’t eat it.
You’re able to be spontaneous with eating and adapt with ease when schedules and plans change. You freely eat and enjoy a variety of foods, so you’re able to meet your nutritional needs without a major dilemma.
You “earn” what you eat or “pay for it” later. You feel guilty after eating. You have to “cheat” on your diet to eat what you actually enjoy, which robs you of any sense of food or bodyrelated stability.
You believe your body has your back, and you’re confident in your attunement to its cues. You’re able to cope with your emotions with kindness, and you’re confident in your body’s ability to adapt to changes in your eating patterns.
If you’re seeing unhealthy signs in your relationship with food, don’t ignore them! Reach out to Memphis Nutrition Group for support. We can help you free your mind, nourish your body, and live satisfied!
Blair Mize, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CEDRD-S