Want a Better Relationship with Food and Your Body? Do These Things.

Want a Better Relationship with Food and Your Body? Do These Things.

relationship with food

Do you ever think about your relationship with food and your body?

I mean, really think about it, and what it means to you.

A good relationship with your body means respecting and valuing it, and having a desire to care for and nourish it, not to punish it. It’s having an appreciation for what your body can do, not just what it looks like. 

A good relationship with your body also involves trusting it to do what it’s supposed to do, and knowing that your body is going to change as you age…which is OKAY! It’s not about trying to make your body fit into the ideal that society gives us. 

A good relationship with food looks like eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full. Seeing all food as food, not as numbers, macros, or ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

It means that you choose the types of food you eat something according to your inner cues, not because of external rules. It’s also eating what you love, and being able to eat without guilt and shame.

 

When your relationship with food and/or your body suffers, so do you. It’s hard to live your best life when you’re not content with how you look, or when you’re anxious about what to eat, or when you feel as though you need ‘fixing.’

Ugh. Let’s take some preliminary steps in changing some of those feelings.

 

Here are a few things that can help you heal your thinking around food and your body.

Believe in the value of body-neutrality.

There’s a lot about ‘body-positivity’ out there (some of it toxic), but what if you just don’t buy into all of that shiny happy stuff around your body? 

What if you’re just not feeling it, for whatever reason? Does that mean you’re a failure?

Heck no! Try a little bit of neutrality. 

I’m totally behind the concept that body neutrality – not hating, but not loving, your body – can be a good stepping stone on the way to loving your body. Or, even for a longer time than that – you can live happily in a body that you feel neutral about, and that’s okay.

Know what normal eating is.

Diet culture is built on a couple pillars: convincing you that your eating behavior isn’t normal, and making you feel as though you aren’t good enough the way you are.

When you know what normal eating is, you can spit in the eye of diet culture. 

Normal eating is eating in a way that nourishes you both physically and emotionally. It’s trusting yourself around food, and understanding that not every meal is going to be the most nourishing thing ever, and that’s okay. It’s eating without guilt or shame, and choosing the foods that make you feel good. 

Normal eating is not feeling the need to count every single calorie that you eat, or feeling like you have to eat something you don’t want, ‘just because it’s healthy.’ It’s not ignoring hunger. 

Normal eating is sometimes eating past the point of fullness, and sometimes eating out of happiness, sadness, or other emotion. It’s satisfying your hunger with FOOD, not gum or water or supplements. 

Yup, all completely normal. 

Understand where you’re at NOW.

I think one of the worst promises that the diet industry makes is that through a certain way of eating and/or exercise, we can have our younger body back.

This sets people in a never-ending vortex of horribleness, chasing a unicorn that they’ll never find. Because bodies age, and you should sure as hell be happy about that.

The alternative is unacceptable.

I’m the first to admit that the changes our bodies undergo while aging can be disconcerting and weird. And some of them seem to happen overnight. Lets make one thing clear, though: you are the age you are, and that body you had when you were younger is in the past.

Let’s make peace with that.

I’m not telling you to do nothing to blunt the effects of aging. What I’m saying is to understand where you’re at now, and that the changes you’re undergoing are normal, and that any company or person who tells you that their magic collagen Modere Trim BS can give you back your 20 year old body, is lying. They’re also perpetuating a gross, patriarchal trope: that women who are over a certain age are worth less. 

Don’t submit yourself to that garbage.

Read my review of Modere here.

Know the red flags.

Knowing the red flags of someone who is trying to sell you something that will cause damage to how you feel about food and about yourself, is one of the first steps in having a better relationship with food and your body.

Spotting red flags allows you to turn away from them (and run), but also to understand that these marketing tactics are harmful, not truthful.

I have a list of the diet red flags I see often. Get comfortable, because this list is long:

Doctors or any other professionals trying to sell you a restrictive diet and/or supplements. 

Nobody should be using their credential to sell you a fad diet or useless supplements. 

Anyone who has an emotional story about how they ‘fixed’ their diet issues themselves and is now selling their ‘solution.’

Marketing 101: using emotion to sway people so they forget that you’re selling something that you’re not qualified to sell. 

Anyone who determines themselves to be an ‘expert,’ but who has little or no training in what they’re claiming to be an expert in.

This goes for trainers saying they can ‘fix’ your hormones, weight loss ‘experts’ who have no training, or anyone who has taken an online course and then deems themselves qualified to counsel and treat people for anything health-related.

A plan or program that has only anecdotal evidence behind it.

Before and after photos are the calling card of nutrition MLMs, for a reason: there’s no actual evidence their products work. Before and after photos can be easily falsified, and remember: for every positive anecdote a product gives you, there may be several negative ones that they aren’t telling you about.

A program that won’t give you details until you sign up.

*Ahem* E2M *ahem* – this is just shady AF. Also shady is when they don’t let you talk about the program and what it entails.

If a program wants you to sign a non-disclosure and gives thinly veiled legal threats about talking about it when you sign up for something, don’t sign anything, and run away.

A program or diet that cuts out entire food groups for everyone – the most common are gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, and sugar.

This is just crazy. A blanket restriction is never warranted, and creates a good food-bad food perception that’s harmful. 

Someone who tells you to ‘eat whole food,’ but then sells you meal replacements and supplements *ahem* Mark Hyman *ahem*

Anyone who can’t follow their own rules is obviously a charlatan.

Anyone telling you that specific foods are ‘toxic’ – for example, lectins or sugar.

The sure sign of someone who has zero clues about nutrition and health is when they use the word ‘toxic’ to describe food. Don’t go there. 

No food is ‘toxic,’ just like no food is ‘fake.’ This sort of vernacular breeds fear and anxiety around food and eating. 

Anyone who tells you that fruit is too sugary and shouldn’t be eaten, or that you should only eat berries and lemons.

Someone who tells you not to eat fruit or that it’s too sugary, is showing you how little they know about nutrition. 

Weight loss promises – for example, ‘lose X pounds in Y time!’

A sure sign of a destructive diet. First of all, we don’t know how each individual is going to react to any eating plan, so promising a specific weight loss is misleading.

Also: when weight loss is the primary or sole metric of ‘success,’ this is a major red flag. 

Anyone promising a ‘transformation’ or ‘lifestyle change’ or ‘hormone diet’ or ‘fat burner’ or ‘metabolic reset/kickstart’ or anything to do with cleanses or detoxes or ‘clean’ eating.

Hyperbolic language or talk about resetting hormones or metabolism, or burning fat are dead giveaways that you’re being scammed. 

You can’t kickstart or reset anything in your body, and fat burners are and always have been BS. Cleanses and detoxes have been debunked too many times to count, and ‘clean’ eating means nothing. So yeah, run away. 

Anyone posting anti-vaccine content or anything about EMFs or microwaves.

These conspiracy theorists don’t know about science or how the body works. Therefore, they shouldn’t be giving you information about those things. 

Anyone mentioning that lemon water/ACV/Himalayan salt should be consumed daily.

There is absolutely no benefit to consuming any of these, yet I see them being recommended all the time by diet ‘experts.’ Something about the ‘minerals’ in the salt, the ‘cleansing’ effect of the lemon water, and the ‘blood sugar lowering’ of the ACV.

No.

Any diet that makes you weigh yourself or track food/calories.

I don’t care if a program says it’s not a diet *ahem* Noom *ahem*

If it tells you to weigh yourself or track food, IT’S A DIET. 

Read my review of Noom here.

Any plan that suggests that organic/grass fed/wild foods are superior to conventional ones.

You can’t have a good relationship with food if you’re anxious about what you’re eating because it might not be ‘clean’ enough. The above foods have no significant nutritional advantages to conventional ones, and anyone saying they do, should be ignored.

Any plan that you can’t see yourself doing for the rest of your life.

Seriously, if you’re thinking of doing some diet that’s IF/keto/frigging carb cycling, for example, how long do you think you’re going to last on that? And what’s your life going to be like when you’re doing it, or when you go off of it and likely gain the weight back?

These things MATTER. If you aren’t able to sustain a way of eating, chances are that it’s extreme.

Any plan by a doctor (real or imagined) who’s a TikTok influencer *ahem* Galveston Diet *ahem*

I’m adding this one in because it takes a certain amount of unprofessionalism to sit on TikTok and point to captions like an idiot while promoting a garbage diet. So yeah, red flag.

Read my review of the Galveston Diet here.

Realize that you don’t need to be ‘fixed.’

Contrary to what diet culture tells us all, you are good enough the way you are, and anyone or anything that makes you feel as though you need fixing, should be ignored.

How you eat, and what you weigh, don’t factor in AT ALL into who you are as a person. You aren’t broken, my friend. Not at all.

If you’re constantly telling yourself that you aren’t good enough, that behavior is what needs changing. I take readers through this process in my book Good Food, Bad Diet, but the TL;DR of it is this:

Recognize how often you say negative things to yourself, either out loud or in your head.

CHALLENGE those thoughts. Ask yourself if these things are really true. Provide proof that they’re true (I’ll bet you can’t).

Understand that negative self-talk is rarely if ever based in reality. Acknowledge this.

Flip your negative thoughts into positive – or neutral – ones. 

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Just breathe.

Especially now, when the holidays are around the corner, and stress and food are all around us.

Just breathe, and remember:

Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you enjoy food. You’re supposed to enjoy it.

Your diet doesn’t say anything about your goodness (or otherwise) as a person. 

Most importantly, please know that at some point, the weight that you’ve been punishing yourself over isn’t worth the effort you’re expending to take it off. 

That if you’re not living your best life because you’re torturing yourself to lose those pounds, it’s time to take a hard look at your expectations and whether you’re REALLY better off spending the next X years in the same situation, versus accepting the weight and where you are now. 

 

Building a better relationship with food and your body is a process, but it’s a worthwhile one. Even if you take two steps forward and one step back, keep it going. You’ll get there.