5 Ways to Repair Your Toxic Relationship with Food
When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, how you think can be as important as what you eat. Here we examine five key ways to ban your bad eating habits and develop a healthy relationship with food.
As with any relationship, how we interact with food is something that develops over time. At its best, it can be something that we enjoy on a daily basis and makes us feel good about ourselves. At its worst, a toxic relationship with food can lead to a whole range of negative feelings and unhealthy habits.
The good news is that with a little commitment and a positive outlook this is a relationship that can be easily repaired. While food addiction treatment can be highly beneficial in many cases, we encourage you to first examine your relationship with food to identify and tackle any potential issues. Here are a few tips to get started:
1. Be Mindful of Your Eating
As you set out to repair your relationship with food, this is likely a phrase you will come across a lot. Being mindful of your eating can be applied to your eating habits in a number of ways. At the most basic level it can help you ‘stay in the moment’ while you are eating. Taking time to stop, breath and appreciate your food will help you enjoy it more and you will feel more satisfied after.
Being mindful can also help you identify situations where you may fall into unhealthy eating habits. Perhaps you automatically buy a large popcorn every time you go to the cinema, without really thinking about it. Maybe try a smaller portion or a healthier snack the next time you go. Stepping back and examining your eating habits can help you form a healthier relationship with food, often with surprisingly little effort.
2. Eliminate Thoughts of Reward and Punishment
The key to a healthy relationship with food is keeping peaks and troughs to a minimum. Continually bouncing from crash diets to bingeing and from high- to low-calorie days is not only physically unhealthy, it can bring out all kinds of negative emotions. You should enjoy the food that you eat each day, allowing yourself some not-so-healthy food on occasion if you wish.
It’s important to avoid days where you only eat foods you do not enjoy as a form of ‘punishment’. Consistency is key here, so finding healthy foods you can enjoy eating every day is the key to success. It’s only natural to have an off day sometimes, but don’t beat yourself up over it and try to make up for lost ground; simply return to your normal diet as soon as possible.
3. Keep Everything on the Table
There have probably been plenty of times you’ve seen someone with an enviable physique tucking into a McDonald’s or rich desert and asked yourself, “How do they get away with that?” The answer, most likely, is that they don’t do it very often.
It’s widely accepted that those with healthy eating habits don’t always eat healthy, slimming foods. Pizza can be on the menu, so long as it’s the exception and not the rule. A good tip is to eat unhealthier foods when you’re not too hungry, so you don’t consume large amounts.
4. Separate Foods from Emotions
Very often overeating or unhealthy eating is associated with feelings of guilt, loneliness, stress or sadness, and is often a root cause of food addiction. If you’re using food to cope with negative emotions, you will form a strong association between eating and ‘happiness’, creating habits that can be difficult to break.
First, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many people use crutches to deal with negative emotions, and a lot of them, such as alcohol and drugs, are far more dangerous than pizza, ice cream or salty snacks.
While food addiction treatment counsellors can bring years of expertise to dealing with such issues, it may be worth exploring the links between your emotions and eating habits yourself. There are countless ways to deal with the negative emotions that we all feel in day-to-day life. Long walks, yoga, reading and meditating can all help you relieve stress and help you better cope with your negative feelings.
5. Remove Temptation
While a positive and forgiving outlook is essential to ensuring a healthy relationship with food, keeping temptation to a minimum at home and at work is also very important. This is not a sign of weakness. Very few people can resist delicious but unhealthy snacks if they are right there within easy reach.
Removing unhealthy foods from your immediate environment will help you achieve the diet you’re looking for. This doesn’t mean you won’t experience the occasional craving at the beginning, but it will make it far more likely that you won’t give in to urges. Having plenty of tasty, healthy alternatives around will also help prevent any relapses. Pretty soon, the food you do have in your home will become a natural and enjoyable part of your daily diet.
Getting Help for Food Addiction in Singapore
The most recent National Health Survey, undertaken in 2010, found that 11 per cent of Singaporeans aged 18-69 were obese, up from 7 per cent in 2004. While this compares positively to the estimated world average of 30 per cent, there have been concerted efforts to raise awareness of the issue in Singapore.
As more people become conscious of their weight, there may be a strong temptation to embark on a restrictive diets in response to eating issues. However, these diets can damage your relationship with food even further. To truly deal with the complex emotions and processes that lead to toxic eating habits, a more holistic approach is advised.
At The Cabin Singapore, our specialist counsellors and nutritionists have years of experience dealing with all kinds of eating disorders using proven treatment plans that are individually tailored for your needs. Contact us today to find out how we can help you repair your relationship with food.