More and more it has occurred to me that people, and not just dysregulated eaters, view food as their enemy. They use words like battle, struggle, war, and fight when talking about eating and their bodies. No wonder they’re having difficulty taking pleasure in eating. They’re generating so much negative energy toward food, eating, and their appetite that any efforts they’re making toward “normal” eating are being cancelled out.
If you’re one of these people, it’s time to change your attitude toward food and your body in order to become a “normal” eater. You can do this by examining and reframing your beliefs. Here are some of the irrational, unhelpful thoughts you may currently have. Do they sound like the foundation for a positive belief system for “normal” eating?
- Food is the enemy.
- I need to fight my urges to eat junk food.
- If I struggle against my cravings, I’ll become a healthy eater.
- I feel like I’m at war with my body.
- I need to conquer and control my desire to eat food that’s not good for me.
- It’s always a battle between what I want to eat and what I should eat.
Do you subscribe to any of these beliefs? There’s no shame in admitting that you do. It’s only a place to start making changes. Then answer these questions:
- How did I acquire these beliefs? Who taught me and how did they do that? How long have I had these beliefs?
- Do I recognize that these beliefs will never be compatible with “normal” eating and a positive relationship with food and my body?
- Am I willing to change these beliefs to reach my eating and self-care goals? Is my willingness reluctant, lukewarm or enthusiastic?
“Normal” eaters think about food as nourishment and pleasure. Rather than be tense around food or thoughts of it, they are comfortable and relaxed. They don’t consider food their best friend, nor their worst enemy. Some are foodies and adore recipes and cooking. Others (like me) find food enjoyable, but cooking, not so much.
Set an intention to observe how you think and talk about food as a foe or adversary. When you do, gently remind yourself that food is nourishment and pleasure. Over time, by stopping yourself from demonizing food, you’ll start to relax more around it. Remember that changing your thinking about food will change your behavior around it.