It may seem impossible, but there are simple ways to heal your broken relationship with food, no matter how long you’ve suffered. I spent 15 years of my own life engulfed in fear of food, restricting myself from eating freely, and simultaneously gorging myself out of hunger. I never thought I’d find balance in my life again. Luckily, after spending the last two years dedicated to hard core recovery, I’ve found the answer I was always hoping for. I’d like to share some ways to heal your broken relationship with food if you suffer from this exhausting battle too. I promise, it is possible, though it’s a daily work in progress.
1. Look at Your past
One of the hardest ways to heal your broken relationship with food is to take a look at your past. This can be painful, but it’s necessary to learning how your issues started. Many of us develop beliefs around food, dieting, calories, weight issues, etc. at a very early age from reasons we don’t even realize. Mine started when I suffered sexual abuse as a child and learned to hate my body and what it reminded me of. Later, I learned to use a lack of food to cope, or eating to cope with the loss of my Dad. Taking a look at your past when your food issues started can be exactly what you need to change the cycle. When you become aware of how food issues started in your life, you can begin to change them.
2. Clear the Clutter
When I speak about clutter here, I’m referring to mind clutter. You know what I mean, right? All the dieting “dos” and “don’ts” we hear so much about in the media. One week, we’re told one thing works, and another week it’s something different. This constant “clutter” as I call it only confuses you further. For one year solid, I quit reading all women’s magazines that had any advice about dieting, which was hard for me to do because I love magazines dearly! I also quit reading food blogs, and quit looking at any diet books. It was hard being a recent graduate of nutrition, but it did wonders for me. I learned to eat intuitively again, not based on someone’s opinion in an article I read. You’ll be surprised how this one change makes a difference.
3. Forgive Yourself
If this sounds silly, hear me out! Forgive yourself for every single negative thing you’ve ever done with food, or how you’ve used it in your life. Forgive yourself for not taking care of your body. Did you know that most people binge or starve out of guilt for their relationship with food? They’re so mad at themselves, they keep punishing themselves through the same way over and over again - with or without food. Stop the madness right now, and just forgive yourself. Trust me - it does work, and as long as you keep that forgiveness in the forefront of your mind, you can now learn to eat to nourish yourself, not numb yourself with food.
4. Take a Walk
I learned to quit exercising to burn calories, and started taking walks outside in nature more often. I found it was one of the most healing ways for me to actively move my body without a focus on calories burned, time spent, etc. I also used no iPod of other form of music. I used that quiet time in nature as a way to reflect on my feelings and my life, and it has been one of the most healing things I’ve ever done and would suggest you try too.
5. Cook for Yourself
No more eating out, or ordering in! Learn to cook for yourself and do it out of self care. This is one way I learned to heal my relationship with dieting. Preparing healthy meals for yourself is a form of self care, and eating those meals is much more rewarding. You’re more likely to finish your meal, and be able to stop when you’re done when you prepare it yourself. Stop eating out of boxes, bags, and take-out containers. Cook for yourself and you’ll see a big change right away. If possible, don’t eat in front of a TV or computer screen either. Pay attention to your meal, and if it’s nice weather, eat outside! A meal in the sunshine is so calming and a great way to destress.
6. Write It out
Sometimes we don’t always know why we feel a certain way about food or dieting, but writing it all out can help. Write out whatever you want when it comes to how you feel about food, what you fear, bad habits, etc. No food journals! Just write out your feelings. It can be a great way to gain insight on some issues you might not have been able to realize yet.
7. Start New
The best way to heal a broken relationship with food is to start new, right where you are. No looking back, just forwards. I know that’s more difficult than it sounds, but you can’t change the past, so why try? Embrace new ideas, debunk old myths, and just start afresh. Each day is a gift not worth spent regretting and rehashing old events.
I hope you know that I understand these tips probably seem pretty tough. I also know they aren’t something you can do overnight. But are they effective? You betcha! If you have a broken relationship with food and have learned to heal that part of your life, what did you do?