You hear me say this phrase all the time, but what does a healthy relationship with food really look like??
I know when I first started in the wellness industry, pretty much everything I saw was related to eating and exercise. Maybe dealing with stress was thrown in the mix from time to time, but most of what I saw was green smoothies, matching sports bras & leggings, and before & after pictures.
Having a healthy relationship with food was never mentioned. I never heard about this concept during my certification program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I never heard about this while networking with other health professionals. I never heard about this when I was working with a dietician who put me on an elimination diet.
No one was talking about this.
Meanwhile, I was internally suffering. I was going from restrictive diets in the name of health, to binging, and back to restricting again. I was feeling trapped in a very specific way of eating that allowed no deviations. I thought health and wellness with very black and white. There were healthy foods and unhealthy foods. There were good foods and bad foods.
Now I know what it’s like to have a healthy relationship with food and here is what that looks like:
– Only thinking about food when you’re hungry or when you need to plan meals.
– Leaving cookies on the plate knowing you can always have some tomorrow.
– All foods are allowed in your diet. Nothing is “forbidden” unless you have a medical reason to avoid it or you don’t like it of course!
– Food doesn’t have a morality. While there are varying nutritional content in foods, there is no such thing as “bad” or “good” foods.
– There is no guilt if you eat past the point of fullness or if you emotionally eat. Even further, you realize this will happen from time to time and it’s completely normal.
– In general, you eat when you are hungry, stop when you feel full, and eat what is satisfying to you. You also don’t always follow your body’s signals perfectly and that’s okay.
– You have a relatively neutral approach to your body. This means, you have some bad body image days like everyone, but you don’t let that define who you are or ruin your day.
– Your food selections are a combination of “healthy foods” and “pleasure foods.”
Thinking about what I was doing in the past for health – skipping breakfast, eating almost 100% whole foods, cutting out complete food groups, going sugar free, and bringing containers of food with me everywhere – this wasn’t true health. This was an obsession with food leading to ignoring my passions in life and eventually realizing that I wasn’t eating enough.
Health looks like the list above. A balanced life without the obsession, disordered eating habits, and all-or-nothing thinking around food.
It looks like fucking freedom.