Unhealthy Relationships With Food & Food As A Reward

The relationship that most people have with food is an unhealthy one.  I’m really no different in that, I still have good days and bad days, but I consistently work to get better, and I hope you do too.  I’ve struggled with binge eating and also the mindset that I should reward myself with food.  It’s a constant fight to maintain a healthy relationship with food, and in order to do so I think it’s important to really analyze our actions and our mindset towards our decisions with food, as well as educate ourselves about what our choices could be doing to our bodies.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about food lately, because of the fact that I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  I’ve been reading Clean Gut: The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing Your Health as well as the book Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause.  Both of these books focus on how the way we eat, and the foods we eat, have seriously effected our health and are creating many of the diseases we are battling today.  We spend so much time trying to take meds to fix things (see my blog “Are You Treating the Cause or Only the Symptoms“), when in reality a HUGE change that we should be working on is our relationship with food and how we choose to feed our bodies.

Do you struggle with your relationship with food? 

I run fitness challenge groups on Facebook, and I see this as one of the main things that people struggle with.  I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but you will continue to… you need to work on educating yourself to make your convictions stronger towards creating a healthier relationship with food.  With education you’ll start to understand better how food works for or against your body, and you’ll starting developing a wellness mindset as opposed to a deprivation mindset.  You may even want to enlist the help of a professional if it’s beyond your grasp and you need extra support and guidance.  I recently started working with Doctor Rowena Chua, M.D. at the Heartland Center in Evanston.  She focuses on taking care of the whole person, rather than treating a specific symptom (through nutrition, mind-body approaches, and balancing the neurohormonal, immune and digestive systems).  Even when you think you know everything about how to live a healthier lifestyle, your body may throw a curve ball at you.  So, check out holistic practitioners and/or nutritionists if you need that extra help.   Even though I’m a fitness professional I recognized that I still needed the support and guidance of others.  You may be no different.  So, if you do struggle with your relationship with food I implore you to try researching for someone who can help you.

Are you someone who rewards yourself with food?

This is a vicious cycle that can get out of hand if you view indulging as a deserved reward.  Our relationship with food should be as such we never feel as though we are depriving ourselves or even have the need to reward ourselves.  Eating healthy should be done because of how it makes us look, feel, how it affects our energy levels, our sleep, etc… not because we want to be a “good boy/girl” and earn that reward of a piece of cake.  Likewise, it should also mean that we never feel guilt when we do indulge.  It’s important to understand how food makes our bodies feel, and choose the right foods based on how we want to feel.  I don’t know about you, but I want to feel good!

So, what are some other ways you can reward yourself when you are doing a good job so that you don’t feel the need to use food as the reward?

1.) Get a spa treatment (massage, facial, mani, pedi, etc.)

2.) Go get a new piece of clothing or a new pair of shoes (just beware of “retail therapy” too, heh).

3.) Give yourself some “down time” and catch your favorite TV show or go to a movie.

4.) Buy yourself a new album on iTunes (or visit your local music store).

5.) Go out and have fun with friends!

6.) Go try an activity you’ve always wanted to do (zip lining, boat tour, park hike, etc.)

7.) Bask in the glory of how good you feel and let that be enough of a reward for your actions.

There’s many ways you can reward yourself for doing well… so, try doing something other than food.  I’m not saying that you can never reward yourself with food… just make sure it’s not the only reward.  There are many other rewards that can feel even more satisfying at the end of the day.

What are some non-food rewards that you’ve given yourself for staying on track and what has helped you develop a healthier relationship with food?

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