Shame and secrecy. These are two feelings that my clients often use to describe their relationship with food when we are working to uncover their past struggles with binging, compulsive eating, emotional eating, or food addiction. Their relationship with food causes them to feel shame and secrecy after they eat, only prompting them to eat further. When I say “relationship,” I mean a life-long relationship that you can’t run from, divorce, break up with, or neglect. If you’re someone who has a challenging relationship with food, it is likely you often choose to numb out the negative feelings associated with binging, compulsive or emotional eating, and food addiction. Casting these feelings aside may provide some temporary relief. Most women who work with me before their wedding are happy to have this information for the rest of their lives and take this new info that they learned way beyond getting prepared for their wedding day.
However, it is important to realize that our relationship with food is a life-long relationship. Now, this might either provide a sigh of relief, or it may make you fearful. First off, it’s important to understand that you can’t fix everything overnight. That is way too much pressure for anyone to handle. What you can do, though, is start to make small positive changes that over time will help you have a more balanced, loving relationship with food and your body. I love how when New Year’s comes along everyone is incredibly motivated to begin their diets, drop those pounds and start fresh. I am not criticizing the motivation that comes with the start of a new year, rather I am asking you to be mindful of the fact that you might want to look at it as a life-long lifestyle change rather than a rapid make-over. Trade in the intensive month or two of food restriction and gym visits for an authentic change that will gradually pay off over time. I listed some tips below to help you jump start these positive lifestyle changes and improve your life-long relationship with food:
1. There is a huge connection between our relationship with food and how we feel inside. How we eat is a reflection of how we feel. Take time to feel your emotions before you overeat or eat due to reasons other than hunger. Ask yourself “what am I TRULY hungry for?”
2. Eat REAL food that gives you life and energy and comes from a natural source. Try to eliminate artificial and processed foods from your diet, or reduce the amount you consume. Your appetite for real food will start to become easy and natural!
3. Don’t look to the future for happiness. Live now! A lot of people get into the mindset that they will start to make positive changes when they have the perfect body, weight, clothes, etc. Let go of these false promises about what may or may not happen and start living now.
4. Take time to see friends and family and move! When I started this journey, one of the first things I added was a weekly walk with my friends by the beach. It not only filled my soul with love and happiness, but it made me lose weight in a healthy way. Find an exercise that is realistic for where you’re at now. Don’t force yourself into something that you will want to quit right away. Instead, start small and just go for a walk! Be present and enjoy yourself!
5. Take time to love yourself! We need to love ourselves for change and transformation. This is the only way. I suggest that you start every morning by writing four things that you love about yourself. If you have a hard time finding something you love about yourself, you can always write about something you love about your life. Maybe it’s a pet or a family member or a favorite song. This expression of love will start to make you notice the love you have for yourself. Let it blossom.
No matter where you are in life with your relationship to food and yourself, it is never too late to start a new journey on the right path. Start small and give yourself the proper love and nutrients to start the new year off right with the mindset that you’re committing to a life-long relationship to yourself and food.