Nearly all of us can use to improve our relationship with food, regardless of the nature of our addiction. This is especially true for those of us overcoming eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, or overeating. Following are 10 tips for building a healthy relationship with food.
- All of us need food to live. Honor your hunger. This means giving yourself permission to eat whenever you are hungry and regardless of whether or not it’s “meal time.” Conversely, if you’re genuinely not hungry, don’t eat; there’s no such thing as “now or never.”
- When it comes to food, as opposed to mind-altering substances, deprivation doesn’t work. When we tell ourselves we can never have a food we enjoy, we’re far more likely to binge on that food in a moment of “weakness.”
- Along the same lines, do not practice “will power” over food. Don’t go more than 3-4 hours without eating, which only hurts our energy levels and leaves us vulnerable to binging.
- Be mindful of why you are eating. Are you genuinely hungry, or are you feeling anxious, depressed, or bored? In recovery, we learn to separate our hunger from our emotions.
- Plan meals ahead of time, regardless of where you’ll be eating. While home-cooked meals are generally more nutritious, it’s okay to eat out occasionally to give yourself a break or a treat. Remember that restaurant meal portions are typically bigger and higher in calories than those we prepare at home. Good nutrition takes planning.
- Make it a habit to sit down at the table, away from other activities, when you eat. Do not eat lunch at your desk or standing over the kitchen sink, for example. Don’t do anything else while you’re eating. Instead, allow yourself to savor each meal or snack to the fullest, rather than eating “mindlessly.”
- Work with a nutritionist and your therapist to develop realistic goals for changing your eating behaviors. Being unrealistic ultimately sets us up for failure.
- Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others. Each of us has a different appetite, a different body size, and a different activity level. Learn to heed what your body is telling you.
- Be accountable. Check in with supportive family members, loved ones, your counselor, and those in your treatment group. We change by learning to be honest with ourselves and others.
- Creating a new relationship with food takes patience and practice, particularly for those with eating disorders. Give yourself permission to make mistakes without judging yourself. Be kind to yourself and remember: Unhealthy behaviors are learned over many years. It takes time to learn healthy new behaviors.
Change happens one step at a time. Design For Change is a full continuum of care options providing the hope that is promised in recovery. As a refuge for addicts seeking change, our residential programs help change lives. Call us today for information: (877) 267-3646