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Improve your Relationship with Food

Here's what you need to know about improving your relationship with food. First, how do you know if you need to improve your relationship with food? If you agree with some or all of these points, you might want to take steps to work on it. If you are;

  • Constantly thinking about food

  • Concerned about what is 'good' and 'bad' to eat

  • Feeling guilty and stressed if you eat something perceived as 'bad'

  • Worried about how the food you eat will impact the way your body looks

  • Purposely altering the amount of food you eat based on an idea that you can't eat 'too much'

  • Have 'off-limit' foods

Tend to go to extremes of eating little or skipping meals to over-eating

Now, this list is by no means exclusive to the experience of a poor relationship with food, but it gives you a good enough idea of where you may be sitting on that spectrum.

The next step is learning what you can do about it!

The following tips may help you develop a better, more positive relationship with food over time. Give them a go!

Honour Your Hunger

The better you get at recognising your hunger and fullness cues, and eating accordingly, the better you will feel about eating enough for your body's energy needs.

Food is fuel, and your body has an in-built system to help you regulate how much fuel you should get.

Step 1 is to acknowledge when you get hungry. Rather than ignoring it for later in the day, if you are hungry, you should eat. But before you reach for the closest bit of food you can find...

Step 2 is to assess where on the hunger/fullness scale you are. Think of hunger on a range from 1-5, where 1 is so hungry you can devour anything in your sight, and 5 is neutral, not hungry but also not full. Where you sit on this scale can give you an indication of how much you need to eat, and essentially, what type of meal you should reach for. For example, if you're a 2-3, it's a good indication that you're ready for a main meal. But if you're a 4, you probably just need a smaller snack to get you by.

Now, you're much more prepared to know when to fuel your body.

Neutralise Food Terms

To make peace with food, you HAVE to stop calling it names. You HAVE to stop categorising as 'good' and 'bad' based on a set of rules you made up, or someone else made up and you decided to follow along.

There is no good or bad. There just is.

It is food, some will have more nutrients, some will have more energy, some will both and some will have neither.

There are times when you will favour some types of food over others, but eating one type shouldn't take away from the benefits of eating another.

All foods are allowed on the table.

Separate Food and Exercise

Food never has to be earned to be eaten.

And exercise should never be used to burn off what has been eaten.

Exercise has so many benefits that have nothing to do with the amount you burn.

Looking at exercise to help with fitness, stress management, mood regulation, mental health, concentration, and confidence is going to help so much more than just the calorie burn. Using the two tips from above to acknowledge that you deserve to eat no matter what, and you can choose to eat what you feel like no matter what, you can build a better relationship with food and your body.

Remember, food is more than nutrients and energy. It is joy, it is social events, it is dinner with your family, it is comfort and care.

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