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15 Signs You May Have a Toxic Relationship with Food (and how to improve it)

It's no new news that we live in a society hyper-fixated on diet culture, thinness, food rules, trendy food fads, and monitoring what we (and others) eat. It's become a harmful culture, and, over time, it has totally morphed our behaviors and perspective around food in a negative way.

A toxic relationship with food has become an unfortunate norm among women. In fact, 75% of women in a recent study reported struggling with disordered eating behaviors.

I've personally experienced a very rocky relationship with food - you could call it unstable and poisonous, actually - and I know the pain, frustration, guilt, and overwhelm that comes with that. But I've also experienced healing from it.

So many women aren't even aware that they have a strained relationship with food. When you're in it, sometimes you can't see very clearly. It really is like when your BFF is dating a really awful guy, but she thinks he's the bees knees. She just can't see clearly.

I want to help give you clarification as well as answers. You deserve nothing less than a peaceful relationship with food, proper nutrition, and a guilt-free life.

Here are 15 signs you *may* have a struggling relationship with food PLUS how to improve it.

1. you classify foods as "good" or "bad"

Salad - good. Cookie - bad. This is how we've been trained to think. So how do you shift your thinking? Accept that food has no morality. Food is food and is not to be feared. Instead ask yourself, "how is this food serving me?"

2. you have "cheat days"

The concept of cheat days implies that the food you are eating on that day is bad and that you must earn it. Let's take it back to #1. Food cannot be morally good or bad, right? In addition to that, you don't have to earn your food. Your body requires food to live, so do your body a favor and give it what it needs.

3. you think about food 24/7

A preoccupation with food could mean that you're not getting enough. Think about how you can adjust your meals to ensure you are getting an adequate amount of nutrients.

4. feeling guilty after you have eaten something

This is an indicator that you (consciously or subconsciously) classify foods as good or bad and often restrict the "bad." Restrictive behavior can lead to feelings of shame and guilt when the restricted food is consumed. Challenge your inner food police and work towards allowing all foods in your diet.

5. avoiding certain foods or food groups for non-medical reasons

If you find yourself restricting foods, ask yourself why. Uncover the reason for the fear of that food.

6. using food to cope with emotions

This could imply that other areas of your life (i.e. career, relationships, mental health) are unstable and need attention. Identify the root cause of your emotions and invest in that area.

7. eating in secret

Are you ashamed of your food choices? Is your restriction leading to secret binges? If you find yourself hiding your food and eating in secret, I encourage you to honor your hunger, feel your fullness, and allow yourself to eat what sounds and tastes good to you on a regular basis.

8. feeling out of control around certain foods

This is often a clear indicator of restriction. Ditch the diet mentality. Rebel against all of the rules and limitations that diets have forced upon you. Allow all foods back into your life, and know that any foods can fit into a balanced diet.

9. chewing gum instead of satisfying hunger with food

What's the motive here? Why aren't you listening to your body and feeding yourself when hungry? Check in with yourself. Heal your relationship with your body.

10. you "save calories" for a certain meal

Calorie counting is a life sentence. You do not deserve to limit yourself and your body to a number. Saving calories by not eating throughout the day is like abusing your body and depriving it of what it needs. Instead of this, focus on how you can consistently nourish your body throughout the whole day.

11. you exercise to compensate for what you ate or will eat

You are deserving of food, whether you've exercised or not. Hear me again. YOU DESERVE FOOD no matter what. It's your body's lifeline.

12. you count calories, either consciously or subconsciously

Again, calorie counting is a life sentence. Good food is a life source.

13. you are adamant that your diet be clean and perfect

I hate to break it to you, but there's no such thing as a perfect diet. And by trying to achieve one, you do your body more harm than good. This kind of behavior could also be an indicator that you are trying to control this area of your life because there are issues in other areas. Challenge yourself to breathe and release control. Journal, meditate, pray - do whatever you do to put your mind at peace.

14. you binge certain foods

Make peace with food. Say goodbye to all of the rules and restrictions. Feel your fullness. Recognize when you're satisfied.

15. you don't order at restaurants

see #13

If you find yourself resonating with one or more of the above, know that there is freedom on the other side. Please reach out to me if you have any questions, need advice or guidance, or if you'd like to schedule a free consultation.

You deserve nothing less than a peaceful relationship with food, proper nutrition, and a guilt-free life.

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