When I work with people with eating disorders, I see many rules around ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. These rules can be so strict that even a healthy, balanced diet can feel like a minefield.
But eating is never that simple. Our bodies are incredible machines that need a wide range of nutrients to function properly. And, when we’re under stress, our bodies often crave the very foods we’ve been told are ‘bad’ for us.
So, how can we make peace with food? Here are a few tips:
1. Eat a variety of foods.
We all have different bodies and different dietary needs. So, while one person may feel great eating a mostly plant-based diet, another may need to include more animal protein. The key is to find what works for you and to eat a variety of foods to get the nutrients your body needs.
2. Listen to your body.
Our bodies are smart. They know when we need more energy, or when we’re stressed, or when we’re sick. So, if you’re feeling tired, or stressed, or sick, listen to your body and give it what it needs. Sometimes that means eating more, and sometimes it means eating less.
3. Don’t diet.
Dieting is a set-up for failure. It’s restrictive, it’s unrealistic, and it’s not sustainable. Instead of dieting, focus on making healthier choices most of the time, and allow yourself the flexibility to enjoy your favorite foods occasionally.
4. Make peace with food.
For many of us, food has become the enemy. We see it as something to be controlled, or as something that will make us fat. But food is neither good nor bad. It’s simply fuel for our bodies. So, make peace with food, and appreciate it for what it is.
Eating is supposed to be enjoyable. It’s supposed to nourish our bodies and give us the energy we need to live our lives. But when we’re caught up in the world of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, we often forget that.
If you’re struggling with your relationship with food, I encourage you to seek professional help. It’s not always easy to make peace with food on our own, but it is possible.