8 Ways To Change Your Relationship To Food

Mindset // Lisa Donaldson, APD, M.Nutr&Diet, B.Edu

For many people, the relationship with food is a tricky one to say the least. 12WBT Dietitian Lisa Donaldson shares her top tips on how to work towards changing your relationship to food, for good. Start by incorporating one or two of her tips today, and build from there!

1. Avoid labelling foods good and bad

When we say we are good when we eat a salad and bad when we eat a chocolate bar, is it any wonder guilt creeps in and leaves us feeling as though we have failed? Food is there to be savoured and enjoyed, and if our language leads us to feeling desperately unhappy, we need to change that language. Next time you have a chocolate bar, instead of saying how ‘naughty’ you’ve been, just say, ‘this is delicious’ and move on.

2. Listen to your feelings, but don’t respond with food

Erica from the Support Crew says, “One of the best things you can do is work out what feelings your reward food/drink gives you. For example, joy, comfort, love, freedom, rebellion, relaxation, de-stress, etc. Then look for other ways to feel this (e.g. buy some new clothes, have a hot bath, book yourself a massage, go rock climbing, call a friend, enjoy a hot cup of tea and perhaps a couple of squares of Lindt 70% dark chocolate, read a good book, etc.). Find other ways to feel what you are searching for, so that food doesn’t have to do it for you.”

Also read: 10 Reasons You Can’t Stop Eating

3. Avoid banning foods

Banning foods inevitably leads to an internal battle, whereby that ‘banned food’ starts to dominate your thoughts. If you want a packet of salt and vinegar crisps so desperately that it’s all you can think about, have a few crisps, eat them slowly and savour them. There’s no point banning something to only face a desperate binge at a later date.

4. Eat for health

As soon as someone explains that they are on a ‘diet’ they start to feel deprived and restricted. A ‘diet’ or a change in eating habits does not need to mean that you should be feeling starved and hangry. Think about all the foods you can eat regularly as part of a balanced diet and enjoy them – plant foods, lean protein, smart carbs and plentiful wholefoods – and eat for health.

Also read: 10 Foods for a Natural Boost

5. Eat to feel satisfied, not stuffed

The Japanese have this wonderful saying ‘hara hachi bu’, which simply means eating to 80% full. If you eat to the point that your clothes feel tight and you need to undo a belt, slow down! Find that point where you feel happily satisfied before you feel horribly stuffed. Don’t forget it takes up to 20 mins to truly register fullness.

6. Avoid obsessing over food or the scales

Erica from the Support Crew states, “Don’t stress about what you’re eating every day and put away the scales for a while. Sometimes it is more important to focus on giving yourself some extra love, enjoying nutritious meals and a little of those foods you love and listening to your body. Take the pressure off – it’s amazing what a difference this can make. Trust that you know what foods will nourish your body, how much you need to eat, which types of exercise will challenge your body and relax your mind.As Mish says, “Aim for progress, not perfection”. Do the best you can, forget about the scales and worrying about your next meal. Focus on you instead.

If you’re looking to shift the weight but have it STAY off, you’ll need to change your mindset. Find out how you can do it in our upcoming 12WBT round.

7. Give yourself permission to eat

When you give yourself permission to enjoy a piece of salted caramel, or to have a choc top at the movies, you are releasing a whole lot of stress that can come with eating indulgent foods. It’s OK to have any food, just watch your portions and eat slowly and mindfully. If you scoff something down, the delicious experience vanishes very quickly. Instead, take your time and really enjoy that moment.

8. Have fun with food!

Pull out a recipe book, invite some friends over, host a party or create something you never thought possible. Get in the kitchen and reconnect with the YOU who loves playing in the kitchen. Create foods that impress your friends, but more importantly impress YOU!  


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