Alberta Health Services
We all have a relationship with food. It’s a necessity of life that nourishes us. It may also bring us joy as it can delight the senses and stir pleasurable emotions. Some people may have an unhealthy relationship with food that can trap them in an emotional cycle of anxiety and shame.
“One estimate I’ve seen is that as much as 65 per cent of the population has some dissatisfaction in the way they manage their eating,” says Mallory Becker, an Edmonton-based registered psychologist with an interest in eating disorders.
“This can range from life-threatening conditions such as anorexia nervosa, to situations where people feel a lot of guilt about missing the eating goals they’ve set for themselves. They get caught up in an idealized picture of what they think they should be doing, then crash when they’ve failed to meet those unrealistic goals.”
One way to improve your relationship with food is to be more aware of your eating habits and understand what triggers you to reach for a tub of ice cream or bag of chips.
Small changes in your daily habits can lead to positive results. Instead of being constantly (and somewhat mindlessly) glued to a screen, you can reclaim your place in “the here and now” by conscious deep breathing, mindful eating, or using time to plan some healthy meals.
“For long-term success, it’s better to set reasonable goals and look at healthy eating as a lifestyle change. Self-compassion is very important,” Becker says.