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How To Tell If Your Relationship With Food Is Healthy

Ever go on Instagram to see perfectly captured photos of someone’s salad, smoothie bowl or #cheatday meal? What's so interesting is that we all perceive those images in a different way.

Most of us moms are shaking our heads thinking how the heck do people have so much time on their hands to post these types of photos - amIright? But if someone is looking to lose weight, they may see those photos and be thinking about the calories. A chef may be pondering the dynamic flavors of that dish. Someone following Portion Fix may wonder what the container count is and someone following 2B Mindset may wonder how many fiber carbs they have to add to make it a meal. All different ways to look at the same photo!!

Whatever may be going through your head is a good indicator of your relationship with food.

If you want to achieve weight-loss and weight-maintenance goals, your mindset around food has got to be healthy!

Here are the traits of people who are at peace with food:

1. They eat food for fuel and health, not to suppress emotions

People with a healthy relationship with food view it as a source of fuel that: provides energy for their body to run efficiently, helps them power through a tough workout, keeps them healthy, and keeps their focus throughout the day.

They’re free from emotional eating — they know that food isn’t a cure for sadness, boredom, stress, anxiousness, or loneliness.

2. They practice intuitive eating

People with a healthy relationship to food seem to have the innate skill of intuitive eating.

This means that they eat when they’re hungry, stop when they feel satisfied, and don’t let outside influences dictate what time or what types of foods they should be eating.

We’re all born with this intuitive eating but as adults, we often lose that ability. The sweet spot is relearning that intuitive eating behavior and adapting it to fit your goals.

Methods like the Beachbody Portion Fix Containers teach what healthy, balanced eating looks like, helping people get back to that sweet spot. This is personally what I used when losing my baby weight - it was simple, it was satisfying and I didn't have to count calories.

A little guidance can help people with a healthy relationship to food. Having a plan, gentle guidelines for food or taking on a new way of eating with others who have the same goal (health and maybe weight loss) goes a long way to re-wire the mind and set better habits.

The ability to know your body’s signals and then respond to those inner-body cues without feelings of guilt or judgment can lead to a more positive body image, fewer disordered eating tendencies, and an increased likelihood of taking on other healthy lifestyle habits.

3. They don’t feel the need to “make up” for an imperfect eating day

People with a healthy relationship to food enjoy the occasional treat without the accompanying guilt.

For them, diet is never all-or-nothing. Foods are not "good" or "bad". They tend to follow the 80/20 rule, meaning they eat healthy 80 percent of the time and allow for indulgences 20 percent of the time. This is where I fall on the spectrum! I eat clean 80% of the time so that the other 20% of my week I can feel the freedom of eating/drinking what I please.

So you have a couple slices of pizza or an ice cream cone every now and then — good for you! At the end of the day, you should enjoy living your life. Food should not be your enemy.

4. They don’t allow food to dictate their lives

People with a healthy relationship to food don’t obsess about food to the point where it interferes with how they go about their business. Eating (and everything about food) doesn't take precedence over family, friends, or personal goals.

If you find yourself skipping out on events for fear of overindulging on bar food or bottomless mimosas, it may be time to work on a more balanced mindset toward food.

5. They don’t compare their body or what they eat to others

People with a healthy relationship to food understand that we are all unique in body, mind, and spirit.

We are all different shapes/sizes that that's a GOOD thing!

They feel comfortable ordering a burger & fries when their friend orders a salad because they know that next time they’ll probably try the salad when their friend orders dessert.

What we can all strive for is a strong, healthy body with radiating CONFIDENCE!

So how do you know if your relationship with food may be off-balance?

These behaviors are not in balance:

  • You’re dieting more often than not.

  • You get anxious when the number on the scale goes up and you shame yourself for it.

  • You use exercise solely to compensate for having eaten something “bad” instead of aiming to improve your fitness or rocking a strong, fit body.

  • You’re consumed by food all the time and find yourself anxious about all things related to food (planning, obtaining, preparing, consuming).

  • You tend to gravitate toward “diet” foods.

  • You avoid social outings for fear of having to make difficult food decisions and often eat in private (either overconsuming or under-consuming).

  • You connect food with emotion (stress, boredom, entertainment, happiness, sadness, etc.) then feel guilty after.

These thought patterns, constant yo-yo dieting that can destroy on your metabolism, and mentally beating yourself up over food can hinder weight-loss goals.

The Bottom Line

A mental shift won’t happen overnight.

If find yourself engaged in one of these negative behaviors like emotional eating, constant dieting, or shaming yourself for eating a slice of cake, focus on progress, not perfection.

Baby steps - one day at at time - pick one habit you want to change each week. Then TRACK it. Reward yourself (not with food) when you successfully adopt a new healthy haibt (I like to buy a new workout shirt!).

You really have to get good at identifying the underlying trigger that drives your emotional eating. Journal it out. Get real with yourself. Figuring out WHY you do something is the only way to change it!

Stop with the fad-diet books. Use practical, balanced nutrition as your guide.

Give yourself permission to have a “cheat day” once a week.

When you find yourself skipping a workout to have a date night with your hubby (awe!) and able to eat one square of chocolate without devouring the whole bar - congratulations! You have achieved a healthy relationship with food!

xoxo,

Jen

Need some additional motivation, support or just want to be surrounded my health-minded people who "get you" and are also working toward a common goal of being the healthiest version of themselves?!

Apply to join my next fitness challenge.

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A Healthy Hot Mess by Jennifer Stawarz

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