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Make Peace With Food

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What Disrupts Our Peace With Food?

It may surprise you to learn that making peace with food really has very little to do with food.

Our connection with food can be compromised by:

  • Messages in the media
  •  Influence of friends and family
  • Educational systems focused on calories or macronutrient emphasis
  • Our healthcare system
  • Having an eating disorder and listening to the ED voice

This bodies are often equated with an elevated health status.  Thus, we may manipulate food to serve a status quo or a socially constructed idea of health. Messages from diet culture can lead us to demonizing certain food choices as a result of wanting to obtain a specific health status or body size.  This ultimately disrupts our peace with food.

How Do I Make Peace With Hunger?

Before we can make peace with food, we have to make peace with our bodies.

This means we need to learn to trust our bodies and reciprocate that relationship of trust so our body knows it can depend on us to nourish when it provides the right signals.

Here is the catch.  Messages in the media have hijacked the concept of hunger and told us there is only one right way to do it.

The messages we typically get about hunger include:

  • The only valid hunger is physical hunger
  • We should only eat when we are hungry
  • Hunger is always associated with physical discomfort such as a growling belly
  • Hunger should be earned by being active through the day or engaging in physical activity

In reality, physical hunger exists on a spectrum.  We are often taught to dismiss our hunger cues until the last possible moment. This is often associated with intentional restriction with the goal of reducing body weight, shape or size.

We often control and repress our hunger until we can control it no more (physical pain arises). We cannot make peace with food until we make peace with hunger.

In order to do this, we need to look at a few facts about hunger:

  • There are more than two types of hunger.
  • Both physical and emotional hunger should be considered valid
  • physical hunger exists on a spectrum, and we should honor it before we get to the point of physical discomfort
  • We may need to re-train the body how to feel comfortable with different hunger/fullness levels.

Allowing our body to truly experience the wide spectrum of hunger is the first step in making peace with food.

Why Do I Have No Willpower With Food?

Our bodies are designed to survive.  From an evolutionary standpoint, this often meant that those who were more adequately nourished were more likely to survive. Restricting food is the number one way to NOT survive. Thus our bodies are going to do everything they can to have our backs when we’re attempting to uphold cultural standards of emaciation!

The body has all sorts of defense mechanisms in place to combat any intentional restriction that may be happening.

You don’t have a lack of willpower with food. You were simply never meant to restrict it. Many individuals are in a constant binge-restrict cycle, intended to reduce the body weight and uphold cultural standards.

As we break the binge restrict cycle and come home to our bodies, we will start to notice that we are able to easily make decisions about when to start or stop consuming our food.

How Do I overcome A Food Addiction?

The answer to this is actually really simple: food addiction does not exist.

Many will compare a food addiction too that of a drug or alcohol addiction.  Doing so is extremely misleading and will likely result in an exacerbation with the issue.

The most common treatment for substance use addiction is complete cessation.  We obviously cannot do that with food.  So we instead make attempts at restriction in order to control compulsive behavior. In reality, this only makes the problem work.

Food is an essential part of being alive.  Food may FEEL addicting. We may engaging in binge behavior. However, this is likely the result of intentional restriction, and our body attempting to compensate for chronic under nourishment.

Once we begin to honor our hunger cues and restore our trust with our bodies, our “food addiction” will likely subside.

Carbs Are Not The Enemy. Nor Are Fats Or Proteins

One very common methodology that diet culture uses to disrupt our peace of food is an emphasis on restricting certain food groups.

The idea that fats, carbs or protein are bad is not new.  However, we tend to swap the demonized macronutrient once the general population recognizes that omitting entire food groups doesn’t produce the results they want or is not sustainable.

Here are a few ways that marketing capitalizes on our fear :

  • Carbs cause weight gain
  • Fats are higher calories than proteins and carbs
  • Higher calorie foods produce higher body weights
  • Carbs are empty calories

As humans, we like simple rules for maximum gains!

By omitting a single food group with the promise of “healthism,” we may often feel empowered we are making the best choices for our body without a lot of mental work.

The major issue with this is by omitting any food group we are:

  1. Missing important macro and micronutrients in the diet.
  2. Potentially leaving ourselves energy deficient
  3. Destroying our bodies innate ability to choose what will nourish us.

In order to make peace with food, we MUST get rid of food rules  fear foods. 

How Does My Relationship With My Body Impact Making Peace With Food?

While it may not initially seem correlated, how we feel about our bodies directly influences our relationship with food.

Creating peace with our bodies is an intricate process which may require the support of a therapist trained to work with body image issues and a dietitian.

If you find yourself engaging in behaviors such as:

  • weighing regularly
  • body checking
  • changing clothes frequently
  • holding onto clothes that don’t fit

You may find that your relationship with your body significantly impacts your ability to make peace with food.

When making food choices, determine if they are influenced by a desire to change the body weight/shape or size.

What Should I Eat For Peace Of Mind?

In order to eat with peace of mind, let go of ideas of “should” and “should not eat.”Refrain from creating food rules that will compromise your relationship with food.

In order to create peace with food you should

  • Eat at regular meal intervals (no more than 4 hours apart between meals/snacks).
  • Recognize any food rules and dismiss them
  • Eat a variety of foods
  • practice food neutrality (no foods are superior)

Try using the tracking sheet below to discover information about your relationship with food and your body. Honoring the activities in the tracking sheet will help you to create. a healthy relationship with food.

Shena Jaramillo. Registered Dietitian

Hi I'm Shena. I'm an eating disorders dietitian in Washington state. I hold bachelors degrees nutrition & dietetics, cultural anthropology & psychology. I believe in honoring your hunger, having your cake whenever you want it, and that critically analyzing diet culture can change the world!