Making Peace with Food
So, you just made chocolate chip cookies. You eat one and set the rest aside. Do you:
- Feel guilty or shameful for caving—you went so long without cookies?
- Think about the leftover cookies for the rest of the night, debating whether or not to eat one?
- Resolve to eat another half of a cookie; after all you did workout today?
- Repeat option 3 in 10-minute increments until the whole batch is gone?
If any of these options sound familiar, you’re not alone! Many are in a steady battle with food, without even realizing it. If food is taking up mental space well before, and well after actually consuming food, you are likely battling food. Excessive preoccupation can create a negative relationship with food, and put unnecessary stress on your body. Principle 3 of our Intuitive Eating journey helps us stop the war with food, and put food preoccupation behind us. If you’re tired of fighting, keep reading for more on making peace with food.
Let’s be real here. We do need to spend some time thinking about food. Experts say spending two-three hours thinking about food daily is healthy. We should definitely think about food when we eat a meal—that’s how we enjoy food and eat mindfully! It’s also realistic to spend some time making a plan for food. The difference between having a healthy preoccupation and an unhealthy preoccupation, is the feelings these thoughts elicit. If you experience stress, anxiety, guilt, shame, regret, or failure with your food thoughts, that is an indicator of an unhealthy food preoccupation.
To make peace with food, we have to call a truce. No more internal struggles, no more viewing certain foods as the enemy. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods, whenever you’d like. Any food. Anytime. When seeking a healthy lifestyle, this approach may seem backwards. However, allowing all foods removes the intrigue from restricted foods and we’re much less likely to be consumed by the thought of them. The more we are exposed to a food, the less appealing that food becomes. Normalize the restricted food by telling yourself you can eat it seriously whenever you’d like. Practice telling yourself this! Don’t believe me yet? Try eating an “off-limit” food all day for three days straight. I guarantee you will become very disinterested in this food. Alternatively, try this strategy to normalize your “off-limit” foods:
How to Call a Truce with Food
- Write down your top forbidden foods.
- Spend some time eating one of these foods a couple of hours after a meal.
- Journal about the feelings you experience. How does it taste? Are you enjoying it? At what point do you stop enjoying it and why? Does it meet your expectations? Do you feel anxious or guilty?
- Continue this exercise until this food becomes emotionally neutral and normalized.
Now, if you’re thinking “how in the world can this be healthy?” be sure to stick with me through all 10 principles of Intuitive Eating. Each individual principle is important to understand, and collectively, they teach lasting health and food freedom.
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