As many of our blog posts are, this post was inspired by another blogger’s article I found on TinyBuddha.com.
As someone who has an interest in fitness, I’ve noticed that there are so many ways for people to achieve their fitness goals. But, something that many people don’t tend to do is simultaneously nourish their bodies. Fitness is not just about your physical appearance, but caring for your body inside and out.
The best way to achieve the results you want, is to love yourself and your body as it is. IF you feel you have other goals for how your body feels or looks, the healthiest way to go about achieving your goals is to make sure you are caring for and not abusing your body and spirit.
I’m sure we have all been guilty of bingeing on food we felt guilty for indulging in later, or restricting ourselves from eating a specific food before a big party because we wanted our outfit to look just right. And yes, I mean all of us! Body image concerns are not just reserved for women- it is something that affects men, too!
What you eat not only impacts your digestive tract, your mental health, your immune system, and your energy levels, but also what goals your body is capable of achieving.
Keeping all of this in mind, it can be a lot easier said than done to kick your old eating habits and views… and even if you want to; maybe you just don’t know how.
That’s where Brenda Godinez’s 6 toxic thoughts about food comes into play:
Our Thoughts About Food Matter
Looking back, I realize how damaging my thoughts about food were.
Seeing food as my enemy made me eat in a way that damaged my body—too little, too much, and never with absolute pleasure. This happens to so many people in our diet-crazed society.
In this post, I want to help you identify and transform thoughts that are harming your relationship with food and holding you back from eating with joy.
The way you eat is a reflection of your thoughts and perceptions.
If you have been struggling with dieting, obsessing over calories, and restricting your meals, I want to help you take a step back and shift your mindset so you can heal your relationship with food.
Letting go of these six toxic thoughts about food will help you eat mindfully, and with pleasure.
1. Thinking of food as a reward.
Rewarding a healthy diet with unhealthy food, like during cheat days, defeats the purpose of eating with joy.
Having cheat days can make your daily meals seem less enjoyable in comparison, which diminishes your pleasure.
Also, cheat days often turn into binge eating episodes that leave you feeling physically and mentally upset. This doesn’t contribute to your health or happiness.
A more mindful approach is to allow yourself to indulge on not-so-healthy foods occasionally in moderate portions, instead of reserving certain moments or days to pig out on junk food. Don’t see these indulgences as “rewards” or “prizes” reserved for certain occasions.
At the same time, eat healthy food that makes you happy on a daily basis. Don’t limit your meals to bland or boring food. Expand your daily menu so you’re always eating healthy meals you like.
2. Using food as a punishment.
Using food to punish yourself is just as damaging as using it to reward yourself.
Eating less or not eating to “punish” yourself for overeating is only going to reinforce the feeling you have been “bad,” and this will make you more anxious and paranoid around food.
For example, forcing yourself to eat only certain foods—green juices, “detox” teas, salads—that you dislike to compensate for binging episodes or because you feel “fat” will deprive your body of the nutrients you need and make you miserable.
You don’t need to deprive your body; torturing yourself is not the answer.
The best thing you can do to stop this cycle is to practice self-love. Love yourself, love your body, and know you don’t need to punish it.
A healthy diet that keeps you fit is abundant in whole, nourishing foods. If you want to start over, don’t stop eating. Eat more healthy foods: berries, nuts, beans, lentils, quinoa, all the veggies you can imagine, plenty of water, whole grains, soups, and more.
3. Thinking of food as comfort.
Emotional eating happens when we see food as a form of consolation.
I ate cake many times a week because I thought it made me “happy.” I was a lonely teenager, and cake made me feel life was a little sweeter for a moment.
Using food to cope when we feel sad, angry, lonely, or hurt can be addictive. We start to associate “happiness” with food, and the longer we do it, the harder it is to break the habit.
Relying on food to feel better shuts down the opportunity to work on your problems in a meaningful way.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to actively seek healthier ways to cope when things seem bad—and there are plenty of them.
Exercising, meditating, listening to music, reading, taking a walk, playing with a kitten or a dog, brainstorming solutions to your problems, learning a new skill, taking a nap, and talking to friends are more effective and healthier ways to lift up your mood.
4. Seeing food as something “prohibited.”
Having a strict and inflexible diet will stress you and it may not even help you eat less, according to studies.
Food restrictions often result in constant thoughts and cravings about the food you are “forbidding”—donuts, brownies, ice cream, or sugar- and this keeps you from fully enjoying the meals in your plate.
Studies show that restricted eaters have more thoughts about food that non-restricted eaters.
Obviously, this won’t let you feel at peace or happy with your food.
I’m not saying you should eat without limits and binge on whatever you want, I’m suggestion to focus your efforts elsewhere: Instead of frantically forbidding foods, focus on adding healthier foods to your diet.
Forbidding unhealthy food makes you stressed and is ineffective, but if you simply focus on eating more whole foods, your mind will be at peace and you will eat healthier without even noticing.
5. Seeing food as entertainment.
When you go to the movies, do you eat popcorn because you’re truly hungry or just because that’s how it’s done?
It’s probably the latter, right? In this context, popcorn is part of the entertaining experience.
However, if you start turning to food to keep you entertained every time you’re bored, you will overeat and won’t savor your meals.
Eating mindfully means being aware of your food and enjoying the experience.
Using food as a distraction won’t let you enjoy your meals the same way.
Instead of using food as entertainment, find constructive ways to occupy your mind.
Activities that engage you, like playing a game, reading a novel, drawing, organizing or exercising are better for your mind and body.
6. Measuring your self-worth based on how much you eat.
Finally, don’t give food the power to measure your self-worth.
You’re more than what or how much you eat.
Beating yourself up over what you eat is exactly what harms your relationship with food and steals your happiness.
If you feel you haven’t been eating healthy, don’t get angry with yourself. You can always make a change for the better and improve your diet whenever you decide.
It’s important you see food as your ally, not as the enemy.
Food is not meant to make you feel guilty, worried, or restrict you in any way.
It is there to nourish, support you, and make you feel your best.
If you want to heal your relationship with food, begin by transforming the harmful thoughts that keep you from fully enjoying your eating experience.
Helping yourself distinguish healthy from unhealthy eating habits is a great place to start for making some serious changes in your overall health. I hope this has been as helpful for you as lessons like this have been for me!
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Are you struggling with self-love, healthy eating, nourishing your body or are you just interested in talking to someone about things going on in your life because you simply feel that you do not as you should? Sometimes having a partner in your journey can help. Give us a call to set up a free phone consultation at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378, and one of our Orlando Individual Counselors, Orlando Life Coaches, Orlando Teen Counselors, and Orlando Child counselors would be more than happy to help you, a family member, or a friend work on changing your life.