Most people understand the importance of having wholesome relationships in the home, romantic partnerships, and the workplace. Yet how many of us consider the relationship we have with the very thing that keeps us alive – food? Issues with eating take more forms than just obesity, anorexia, and bulimia. You may look and feel normal and yet still have an unhealthy relationship with food, including an eating disorder. Here’s how to tell where you stand.
Signs of a Healthy Relationship With Food
While having an appropriate weight can be a sign of proper use of food, it’s only one part of the equation. Just as revealing is the attitude you have toward food. Here are some signs of a healthy attitude:
- You try to eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet that includes all food groups, with consideration for medical problems if applicable.
- You eat throughout the day when you’re hungry and know when to stop so that you feel satisfied but not uncomfortable.
- You enjoy the actual act of eating and stay mindful throughout instead of using it as a way to distract or numb emotions.
- You care about what you put into your body without letting it consume your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
- You allow for occasional, moderate indulgence and treat yourself kindly when you make a poor food choice.
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship With Food
A toxic food relationship is more than just the opposite of the above. It usually comprises specific beliefs and behaviors, such as the following:
- Experiencing guilt, shame, or fear when you eat
- Counting every calorie and measuring exact portion sizes
- Eliminating complete food groups without a medical need
- Using food as emotional medication
- Losing control when you eat
- Consuming meals too quickly
- Thinking about food all day long
- Being secretive about your eating habits
- Skipping meals and dieting
- Purging after you eat
The last two are telltale signs of anorexia and bulimia, respectively. Binge eating entails consuming an excessive amount of food without being able to stop. However, you don’t have to go to extreme measures to qualify as having an eating disorder. If you struggle with any of these symptoms, you may still fall on the spectrum.
How To Change Your Relationship With Food
Depending on the severity of your unhealthy connection to food, you may be able to transform the relationship on your own or with only the support of your family and friends. Activities such as practicing mindfulness meditation, cooking from scratch, and tending a home garden can help you make positive associations with food and eating.
In cases where your health is at risk and your disorder is interfering with everyday life, you may need professional assistance in rewiring the way you view nutrition. Treatment generally includes medical attention if necessary, individual counseling, different forms of therapy, and educational courses. You may require an inpatient program, outpatient program, or both.
Achieve the healing you need through the Seeds of Hope eating disorder program. We treat adults, teens, and children, so that anyone can recover from an unhealthy relationship with food. Contact us to find out if this treatment program is right for you.