Many people (especially women) constantly feel anxious about food.
They obsess over what is okay for them to eat, what is not, what will make them gain weight, what is not healthy, what is healthy…
When we take into account to what extent we are all either judged or shamed over our choice of diet, it is no wonder that it has been "normalized". However, the fact that it has become "normal" due to its frequency does not mean that it actually is normal. On the contrary, it is one more reason to take care of yourself and reduce your diet-related anxiety.
Please note that these are just general suggestions and that anyone who feels they really have a big problem with this should consult a professional, a psychologist/psychotherapist/psychiatrist.
KEEP A JOURNAL
I keep prattling on about the journal and I like to use it while working with clients, but it has really proven itself to be very effective. If you have never tried this, now is the time! Although it seems clichéd, it is amazing how different things can seem once they are put on paper. Chances are that you will understand some things more clearly – the same things you cannot solve by simply thinking about them.
For example, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- When and in what situations do I most often feel anxious about food?
- Is it at celebrations with a large number of people?
- While passing by a bakery?
- Looking at pictures of delicious food on Instagram?
- Watching a movie, either alone or with friends?
- What thoughts are running through your head?
- What exactly are you afraid of?
List the situations in which you most often get the urge to eat a certain food, and feel anxious because you do not know how to resist this urge.
It is important that you do not question this, simply write down everything that comes to your mind at the moment.
Observing yourself, your thoughts, and emotions can help you understand yourself better, but also potentially predict your behavior in certain situations. Thus, you are given an opportunity to control your behavior.
FOCUS ON THE FOOD YOU "ALLOW" YOURSELF TO EAT
Instead of constantly thinking about what you shouldn't eat and what's “bad” for you, shift your focus to everything you should be eating. Explore new recipes, see what you like and what you don’t like, turn meal preparation and organization into something fun.
Look at pictures of healthy food on Instagram, Pinterest… Encourage yourself to realize that you can enjoy that food, instead of just thinking about the food you are currently "afraid of".
BUT ALSO INCLUDE A BIT OF THE FOOD THAT "SCARES YOU"
If you have stomach cramps at the thought of the celebration you have to go to, the large amount of food that will be served there, you definitely must read the following paragraph.
In order for discomfort about something to disappear, it is necessary to face it but to do so slowly, step by step. Eating so much until you cannot breathe is not the solution, you must gradually and occasionally add some kind of fast food or sweets, to see for yourself that it will not change anything when it comes to your health and physical appearance.
I believe that you already know that calories make you gain weight - not the choice of food you consume and that absolutely everything can be part of a proper diet to a certain extent, but you also need to "convince" yourself in this on an emotional level by occasionally eating some chips, a chocolate bar, or something similar.
You set the pace by yourself, and you will see that, over time, you will become less and less troubled by this.
EAT ENOUGH FOOD
When you are starving, while also forbidding yourself from eating a variety of food, it is quite expected that your diet-related anxiety will increase. You are hungry, you have cravings - of course, you will feel that way, it is completely natural.
However, what you can do is avoid reaching that level of hunger as much as possible.
Schedule your meals so that you eat regularly, use nutrient-dense foods that will keep you full longer, so you won't crave a specific food, and in this way, you will avoid the anxiety related to it.
CONSUME CONTENT THAT DOES NOT ENCOURAGE YOUR FEAR OF CERTAIN FOOD
If you are reading about how white flour and white sugar will kill you or make you instantly gain weight, it is natural that, after a certain time, you’ll develop an aversion to every dish that contains flour and sugar.
That is why it would be far better for you to consume science-based content - not intimidation-based content - one which does not focus solely on physical health.
Nobody claims that eating an inordinate amount of junk food and sweets every day is healthy, but the problem lies in the fact that strictly avoiding all these foods only makes you want them even more. In the end, you eat more, and let us not forget the potential risks for developing eating disorders.
PRACTICE FLEXIBILITY INSTEAD OF PERFECTION
The essence of a proper diet lies in flexibility, not perfection. Nothing is black or white, and nothing will be ruined just because you ate a piece of chocolate. It just doesn't work that way.
We eat something for the body, something for the soul, something for both. And all of it is equally important.
TRY TO REMEMBER WHERE YOU GOT THE IDEA TO BE RIGOROUS
When you analyze in greater detail where you got the idea that you are not allowed to eat something and that who knows what will happen to you if you do, you will realize how meaningless this all actually is.
Magazines, the fitness industry that aims to sell its "healthy" foods, public figures who advertise certain things… It all boils down to money and manipulation.
No nutritionist who deals with real science (and not pseudoscience) will tell you that it is ideal to be perfect and rigorous, instead, you should be flexible, and your diet should be in line with YOU.
What are your experiences with this?
Were you afraid to eat certain foods and what do you think, where did you get that idea from?
Until next time,