Building a healthier relationship with food starts in the mind. How do you perceive food? Do you label foods as good or bad? I think we are all guilty of doing this at one stage or another!
A good indicator of whether someone has a healthy relationship with food is the thoughts they have about food. A lot of these thoughts will be subconscious and often you won't even realise you're making them.
Below are a few example of negative food thoughts - do you have any of them? If so, maybe it's time to re-assess why you have these thoughts and see what you can do to change them.
1) 'I can't eat that'
Can't or don't want to? There's a big difference. Of course you can eat that ... you pick it up, put it in your mouth and swallow it. Restricting foods completely out of the diet is not a healthy or sustainable way to live. Telling yourself you 'can't' eat something will just make you want to eat it more... we always want what we can't have! Next time you catch yourself thinking this, remind yourself that everything is fine in moderation... if you really fancy that cold ice-cream on a scorching hot summers day then let yourself have one. As long as it's not every single day it won't have a huge effect on your overall health and fitness.
2) 'It's fat-free which means it's healthy'
It is becoming more and more well-known that fat-free foods are necessarily 'good' for you. Just because something is fat-free doesn't mean that it isn't full of sugars or artificial sweeteners or low in calories. Take a bit of extra time to read the food label properly so you understand what is really in the food you are eating. Sometimes the full-fat option will be healthier than the low-fat or fat-free options so be wary of clever marketing buzzwords!
3) 'I deserve this'
We are not dogs - we do not need to be rewarded with food! Yes, sometimes it's nice to treat ourselves to a special meal for a particular occasion or event, but what I'm talking about here are those times you think you 'deserve' a chocolate bar because you went on a run this morning. Having a reward system centred around food can be a trigger for bad habits such as binge-eating or emotional-eating. Instead, find other ways to reward yourself such as relaxing or treating yourself to a massage or beauty treatment.
4) 'It's a special occasion so I'm allowed it'
Following on from the point above, thoughts like this tend to mean you think of food as good or bad or as a reward. A special occasion doesn't mean you are 'allowed' certain foods because you are never NOT allowed them! Certain food may be healthier and more nutrient dense than others and therefore should be consumed more regularly but it doesn't mean you aren't ever allowed to eat the less healthy foods except on special occasions. This style of thinking will just make you want to eat those 'banned' foods even more! Don't restrict any foods out of your diet - just eat the less nutritious ones slightly less :)
If any of these 4 thoughts are ones you notice yourself thinking regularly then perhaps it's time to re-assess how you think about food. Food is something to be enjoyed as well as to fuel our bodies so we have to have a healthy mindset!