"Dear Diet, Things just aren't going to work between us. It's not me, it's you. You're tasteless, boring and I can't stop cheating on you. Let's break up." -Author Unknown
We have all been in a dysfunctional relationship at some point in our lives. Maybe we dated the “bad boy” in our 20s and were addicted to the highs and lows, despite knowing that be probably was not good for us. Maybe we kept a toxic friend in our life for too long, despite her not respecting our thoughts or our time and despite knowing that we weren’t being treated well. Maybe we tried hard to maintain that bond with our sibling, even when they didn’t return our calls, only contacted us to off-load their problems, never asked how we were, and never thought to check in with us at all. We have probably all had at least one dysfunctional relationship in our life and it has left us feeling miserable, drained and down. Yet what many people don’t realise is that very often, their relationship WITH FOOD is dysfunctional too.
When talking about diets and meal plans, very few nutritionists or dietitians talk about the relationship that you have with food. By relationship, I mean, how you think about food, how much you think about food, whether you worry about food and how you make food choices. Food is very rarely looked at from a psychological perspective. Do you obsess about food, or fear food because it might make you fat, do you feel guilty eating certain foods or do you just eat whatever you want and not really care about your weight or your health – all of this comes down to your relationship with food and how you think about food. Just like with your relationships with your friends/family/colleagues, your relationship with food can get obsessive, it can be unhealthy or healthy and it can leave you feeling good or bad.
A dysfunctional relationship with food often arises as a result of the USE of food as a coping mechanism. You may find that you use food when you are stressed/sad/tired/bored/anxious, to fill an emotional void. You may find that you USE food for the instant high that it gives you and just like any relationship in which one party is getting “USED” rather than cherished and respected, this can turn into something very destructive. Unhealthy coping mechanisms come in many different forms, whether you turn to drugs/alcohol/cigarettes/one-night stands/shopping/sugar/gambling/fried food for that instant hit, you will get the immediate high or rush but then often feel awful afterwards.
Seek comfort in knowing however that it is possible to heal your relationship with FOOD. Unlike with other unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking or gambling, it isn’t possible just to completely cut ties and give up. With food, you have to re-build your relationship with it, change your mind-set around it and be able to enjoy it in a way that allows you to nourish and nurture your body. At The Food Psychology Clinic, I combine psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, NLP mindfulness techniques and nutrition advice to enable my clients to re-build their relationship with food. Just like you shouldn’t tolerate toxic, unhealthy relationships with friends/family members/partners in your life, you also shouldn’t just settle for a poor relationship with food. You deserve to be able to love food, eat well, enjoy food and feel healthy and great – without guilt, worry, stress, misery or pain!