Heal Your Relationship With Food
First off the bat, if your relationship with food is really bad and you experience feelings of anxiety, anger or disgust around food then you may want to consider speaking with your GP. We aren’t clinical psychologists and if you do have an eating disorder you need clinical help from an accredited mental health professional.
Disordered eating refers to any abnormal behaviours surrounding food. According to EDV these abnormal behaviours include:
- Binge eating
- Skipping meals regularly
- Self-induced vomiting
- Obsessive calorie counting
- Self-worth based on body shape and weight
- Misusing laxatives or diurectics
- Fasting or chronic restrained eating
“Normal eating” refers to any individual’s regular attitude to the food and drink they consume rather than the type or amount of food they consume.
It is normal to:
- Eat more on some days, less on others
- Eat some foods just because they taste good
- Have a positive attitude towards food
- Not label foods with judgement words such as "good", "bad", "clean"
- Over-eat occasionally
- Under-eat occasionally
- Crave certain foods at times
- Treat food and eating as one small part of a balanced life
If you regularly find yourself demonizing certain foods or feeling guilty for eating some foods and not others it may be that you have a ‘disordered’ attitude to food.
The NHS defines an eating disorder as follows:
“A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health”
The main types of eating disorder are:
- anorexia nervosa – when a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible; for example, by starving themselves or exercising excessively
- bulimia – when a person goes through periods of binge eating and is then deliberately sick or uses laxatives (medication to help empty the bowels) to try to control their weight
- binge eating disorder (BED) – when a person feels compelled to overeat large amounts of food in a short space of time
Eating disorders can develop from learned behaviour (family history) from social attitudes and pressure to be a certain shape.
Stress, traumatic experiences and even personality type. People who are prone to anxiety disorders, low self-esteem, perfectionism and depression are particularly likely to develop some kind of obsessive attitude towards food.
What Can You Do?
Seeing as the main problem with either condition is psychological then it makes sense to work on improving your mindset. We have some articles here that may help:
But any sense that you are not worthy will result in you placing pressure on yourself and, in the case of perfectionism, a desire to form a metaphorical suit of armour. Perfectionism often results in people setting impossible standards for themselves and others, constantly trying to strive for perfection in order to project a false image outwards to protect the poor self-image in one’s head. It’s also a pretty good way to procrastinate and never actually achieve anything meaningful. A complex mindset indeed.
As we said at the start if you or someone you know appears to have an eating disorder then contact your GP or a trusted mental health professional.
If you have a tendency to eat emotionally then you have to fix that. Realise that the world does not happen to you, random events happen around you and then you personalise and internalise them. Similarly, learn to own your decisions and if the choices you are making are leading to feelings of anxiety or guilt then it’s time to start making better decisions.
There are a few things that everyone can do to avoid developing limiting or obsessive attitudes to food and develop a more positive mindset:
- Education: knowledge is power and the more you know about food and nutrition the less likely you are to experience anxiety around food
- Practice gratitude: when you are in an attitude of gratitude it’s almost impossible to experience negative emotions and low self-esteem
- Love thy self: not in a sexual way (although you can if you want) but learn to be more accepting of yourself and improve your self-image, YOU ARE ENOUGH!
- Identify triggers: when you experience feelings of stress or anxiety around food or a desire to binge ask yourself what you are feeling that is making you react this way and what you can do to change this
- Be nice to yourself: it’s easy to focus on all the mistakes you make but you also do a lot of good things so never fail to recognise that and congratulate yourself for any positive habits or behaviours no matter how small
If you struggle with cultivating a positive mental image or feel trapped by your thoughts you can try meditation, NLP or CBT. Or, you can start reading self-help books like Mateo Tabatabai’s ‘The Mind Made Prison’ or Jamie Smart’s ‘Clarity’ of watch 'I Am Not Your Guru' with Tony Robbins. If you are confused by all the conflicting information on nutrition then sign-up to GymCube and get access to Ben Coomber’s ‘The Journey’. Not to mention help and support from a team of fitness professional who care deeply about your success in developing long term change, this is a lifestyle, not a quick fix.
GymCube for life!