Make peace with food for a happier, healthier you!
How is your relationship with food? Chances are in our diet-obsessed culture, it’s not great.
Read on to learn how to make peace with food and heal from the effects of chronic dieting.
Making Peace with Food
The concept of making peace with food is more than just what’s on your plate.
It is a holistic approach that involves embracing a different mindset about food.
It’s about fostering self-compassion, accepting your body, and finding pleasure in eating.
Signs You Need to Make Peace with Food
Below are signs that you would benefit from making peace with food:
- Repeated unsuccessful attempts at weight loss
- Labeling foods as “good” or “bad”
- Feelings of extreme guilt after eating
- Having specific rules about food
- Compulsive or binge eating behaviors
- Feeling out of touch with hunger and fullness cues
Steps to Make Peace with Food
Below are 5 strategies to start to make peace with food:
1. Ditch Diet Culture
Diets are ineffective and keep you in a cycle of restriction and overeating.
Ditch diet culture and let go of rigid food rules!
Diet culture likely feels normal and familiar. However, once you start paying attention, you will notice its prevalence and toxicity.
Being tangled up in diet or body image negativity will hinder your relationship with food.
How to Move Away from Diet Culture
- Identify sources of diet culture.
- Change the subject or remove yourself from diet-focused conversations.
- Reevaluate your social media and who you follow.
- Make peace with your body and its own unique needs.
- Surround yourself with others who have a positive relationship with food and a healthy body image.
2. Give Yourself Unconditional Permission to Eat
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods! This is the opposite of dieting.
When you make peace with food, you reject toxic diet messages and focus on health, self-care, and intuitive eating.
Legalize All Foods
Avoid labeling foods as “good” or ‘bad”. Try to make foods neutral.
When you legalize food, you choose foods that sound good to you and eat them until you are satisfied.
Practice an “all foods can fit” approach to let go of the guilt you associate with eating.
Legalizing Food Activity
- Make a list of the foods you enjoy.
- Set aside judgments about food.
- Star the foods you allow yourself to enjoy regularly.
- Circle the foods you enjoy occasionally.
- Underline the foods you avoid or eat very rarely.
- Review your list and assess how you perceive these foods.
- Practice legalizing the underlined foods.
3. Honor Hunger
Hunger is not bad! It is simply your body’s request for energy or food. Denying hunger sets you up for failure.
Once you reach the point of feeling very hungry, all good intentions for healthy, balanced eating are lost!
Signs of Hunger
- Rumbling or growling sensation in your stomach
- Difficulty focusing
- Low energy
- Irritability; feeling “hangry”
- Thinking about foods that sound good to you
Trust your Hunger Cues
Use a hunger scale to start to understand your body’s hunger cues.
The hunger scale allows you to assess your hunger using a number from 1-10.
1 being associated with feeling starved, and 10 being a fullness that could be compared to a post-Thanksgiving meal.
Practice assigning a number to your feeling of hunger prior to eating.
Ideally, you would stay anywhere between a 3 and a 7 or 8. The key is to not get too hungry or too full!
4. Practice Mindful Eating
While listening to hunger is a great strategy, eating is not always fueled by physical hunger.
Most of us eat in response to stress and uncomfortable emotions at times.
Mindful eating encourages us to be in tune with our bodies. It involves being fully present and engaged when we eat.
Eating mindfully helps us become aware of when we are eating because we are stressed, upset, bored, or even happy.
Mindful Eating Tips
- Eat in a calm and comfortable area.
- Avoid distractions like your phone, TV, and even books.
- Assess your hunger and check in periodically with fullness cues.
- Chew thoroughly and slow down.
- Reflect on your experience and how you can improve at your next meal.
Learn more about mindful eating at the Center for Mindful Eating.
You can learn more about emotional eating in this Age-Defying Dietitian blog post “Head Hunger: How Does it Make Weight Loss Difficult?“.
5. Adopt a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset involves trusting that we can develop and improve over time.
You are not going to change your thinking about food and your body overnight. It is a process that will take time and patience.
It is also not a linear process, meaning there will be times when you can be more at peace with food than others.
You will inevitably struggle with overeating at times. This is normal, and you can recover. Check out this Age-Defying Dietitian blog post to learn more – “How to Detox from a Candy Binge“.
Takeaways on Making Peace with Food
Making peace with food is an ongoing journey that embraces a balanced, intuitive, and mindful approach to eating.
It involves letting go of diet culture, legalizing food, honoring our hunger, and being present at meals and in our bodies.
Making peace with food is not a linear process. Let go of perceived mistakes with eating.
Keep in mind that there is always another opportunity to do things differently right around the corner!
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Kathryn is a Registered Dietitian and a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She is also certified through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Weight Management. She has 20+ years of nutrition experience working in a variety of healthcare settings. Her passion is to provide evidence-based nutrition information that supports vitality and longevity!