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Navigating Your Relationship with Food

Do you feel out of control around food, like it's constantly on your mind and consumes your time and energy? Do you believe your eating patterns are a direct link to your failures or successes? You're not alone. Food surrounds us, is essential to life, and is embedded in almost every social gathering. We can't escape it. Culture, family, the media, genetics and so much more contribute to our relationship with food. When we feel like life is unmanageable, maybe we turn to food to feel in control. But are we? Or is this obsession, fixation, and maybe even disordered eating, controlling us?

Food freedom involves ditching diet culture - I know, hard to imagine with the way that it surrounds us. The media has a way of making these fad diets seem promising and appealing... but health is not "one size fits all", and fad diets don't allow us to enjoy life or have autonomy, and they certainly don't help nourish our bodies in the ways that it needs. Diets are not sustainable, yet getting caught in vicious cycles with them leaves us feeling defeated - as if we're the ones who failed. This is why an anti-diet approach is such an important part of finding food freedom. We'll never feel free around food as long as we're listening to everything but our bodies. Listen - I know this is a lot easier said than done, and finding food freedom is hard work. But you are capable. It might start with tiny steps; it might feel like you're moving two steps forward and one step back; it might feel worse before it feels better. Healing is not linear, and recovering from a world where certain bodies, foods, and diets are put on a pedestal is not easy. Being trapped in the cycle of disordered eating or diet culture isn't easy either.

To make change, we often have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. As human beings, we like safety, and not knowing what to expect or trying things a different way - that's scary. Here are a few steps to get started:

  • Sit with discomfort - don't avoid, distract, or ignore. Recognize when something is uncomfortable

  • Name the feeling - is it anxiety, anger, loneliness? Using a feelings wheel can help

  • Make a tiny change - maybe that's taking a different route to work, or trying a new coffee shop

Practicing cognitive flexibility - the ability to adapt to change - gets easier with time and consistent effort. This is just a start to making that worth-while change so that you can live a life that feels fulfilling. Don't give up - give yourself a chance to start again.

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