As human beings, we tend to thrive on our relationships, especially with those of other human beings. However, we do also thrive on another type of relationship: our relationship with food. That is usually a positive or negative relationship, and often somewhere in between.
This relationship is driven by lifestyle, or how a person lives. Understanding the scope of your own lifestyle can help you understand your current relationship with food, and if necessary, how you could change that relationship for the better. Here are some indicators of having a positive or negative relationship with food.
•Sees the value in choosing and consuming whole foods (unprocessed)
• Makes time for grocery shopping, preparing meals and eating regularly
•Rarely feels “regret”, “guilt” or “shame” when eating
•Surrounded with people who support/encourage their healthy food choices
•Understands the purpose of food: provides energy and nutrients, but can also play a part of socialization
•Limits language and ideas of good vs. bad or cheating, restricting, avoiding (with the exception of allergies) when referring to eating habits
•Chooses foods that are convenient, often fast foods or processed foods like chips or soda
•Places a low priority on grocery shopping, preparing for foods and eating them
•May feel regret, guilt or shame when eating
• May be surrounded by people who are not supportive or are apathetic towards healthy food choices
•May not know or understand the role of food in his or her life
•Uses language that may exude negative emotions when referring to eating habits
•This is not a black and white concept; it’s more like a continuum. Many people, even elite athletes or personal trainers can be somewhere in the middle. Several factors determine our relationship with food, and this can change at any time–with time. That means, no real change happens–and stays–if it happens over night.
So, how do you get started in developing your positive relationship with food?
•Make the time. Just like the thought and effort put into a first date, set aside time into developing a positive relationship with food. Schedule weekly grocery appointments, time for preparing meals, and times to sit and eat.
•Take a look at your grocery cart – What’s inside? Whole foods or processed foods? Is it a mix of both? •Consider your food choices for you and your household.
•Monitor your language and emotions before and after eating. Do you feel full? Do you feel content? •Satisfied? Or do you feel regretful or guilty? Who is around you? Are you surrounded by people who feel the same way?
•Keep a 3-day food log – Determine what foods you eat each day, and when you eat them. Learn to understand why your food log is that way, and determine whether you think it may need a few changes to lead you to healthier choices.
•Consider working with a nutrition coach. If this seems all over-bearing, and you just don’t know where to begin, you may want to consider working with a nutrition coach. With their knowledge and experience, they will get to know you, your story, your lifestyle and will work with you to accomplish your goals, even if that’s just as small as improving your relationship with food.
In a society of instant gratification, there are challenges when wanting to “rush through” developing this “relationship”. Just remember that it takes time and commitment. Take it one step at a time and start with the bigger picture.