Hands in heart shape with food in background, prompting healthy relationship with food

Understanding Your Relationship with Food for Healthy Mental Wellbeing

To eat in a way that’s considered acceptable by society’s latest diet trends, and in their pursuit of building a healthy relationship with food, many people end up obsessing about what they put on their plates. Constantly bombarded with television and social media messages about dieting and eating healthy to lose weight and look good, some individuals may be overly critical of themselves and their eating habits.

Rather than focusing on diet crazes, eating “good” foods and avoiding “bad” ones, and crunching numbers, we should focus on the quality of our relationship with food. Do I have a healthy relationship with food? Or unhealthy? 

Exploring how eating makes you feel can help you determine if you have an appropriate relationship with food. Supported by the specialists and mental health professionals at The Ranch Tennessee, you can pay attention to your eating behaviors and evaluate the associations you place on food.

What Does Having a Healthy Relationship with Food Mean?

Having a healthy relationship with food means eating for physiological reasons rather than emotional ones and stopping when the body and mind are satisfied. 

A good relationship with food lacks restrictions—it’s not necessary even to give power to certain foods by calling them “bad.” You don’t feel anxiety, shame or guilt when you eat them. A healthy relationship means understanding that the foods you eat don’t determine your human value: you aren’t a bad person because you eat “bad” foods.

Signs Food Is Impacted Your Mental Health

  • Eating makes you feel guilty
  • Restrict or avoid “bad” foods
  • Fear what others may think about your eating habits
  • You rely on apps like calorie counters to tell you when you’re finished eating each day, and a good portion of your thoughts revolve around tracking your nutrient intake
  • You ignore natural hunger cues from your body

Understand Your Connection with Food

When building a healthy relationship with food, it’s crucial to remember that the emotional connection you have to food and eating can significantly impact how you go about fueling your body. To have a healthy relationship with food is to eat according to your internal hunger cues as a healthy baby or toddler does. Babies and toddlers choose what they want to eat and only eat it if they’re hungry, stopping when they’re full. The ability to listen to the body and eat accordingly is innate, but unfortunately, many of us lose the connection to it because of chronic dieting or other outside factors. Over time, this develops into shame, anxiety and fear-induced beliefs about food and eating, tainting our perception of normal eating.

Some ways you can begin building a healthy relationship with food for mental wellbeing include:

  • Listening to and respecting your body’s internal hunger cues
  • Eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full
  • Allowing yourself to eat foods you enjoy
  • Stopping the obsession over calories or your weight
  • Enjoying food in moderation
  • Eating foods that make you feel good

When making these changes, try writing your feelings down in a journal, and remember to change at a realistic pace that makes you feel comfortable. Furthermore, you don’t have to improve your relationship with food and change your thoughts about food on your own—consider seeking professional assistance and support.

Learn How Food Impacts Mental Wellbeing at The Ranch

Skilled clinicians at treatment centers—like the experts at The Ranch Tennessee—can provide treatment and information about eating that enhances your quality of life. 

These professionals can guide you through paying attention to your feelings while you eat, which is crucial for recognizing if you undereat or overeat when feeling negative emotions or depressive symptoms. 

Exploring your relationship with food with professionals can help you prevent or manage disordered eating, as well as find out why you eat the way you do. With compassionate, expert support and guidance in a safe, judgment-free space, you can ultimately learn more about yourself and develop a healthy connection to food that can be physically and mentally beneficial.

At The Ranch Tennessee, patients can participate in numerous treatment options, such as:

Click any of the above links or call us today to learn more at 888-970-1137.

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