Whilst for some food brings joy, for others it can bring a sense of dread. Strict food rules and societal pressures to look a particular way can lead to an unhealthy relationship with the food that we eat. The constant battle between supposed ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods can take it’s toll on both emotional and physical wellbeing.
In this blog, you’ll explore 3 steps to help you break free from your food rules and find food freedom.
Ditch the diet mentality
Breaking food rules starts with ditching the diet mentality. Many diets promise quick fixes so long as you follow strict food rules, but this can often result in feelings of guilt and obsession over food.
Breaking free from the diet trap can be difficult, especially if you’ve been dieting for years or even decades. It’s certainly not a step that’s likely to happen overnight. From identifying the reason behind your desire to stop dieting once and for all to removing prompts that encourage dieting behaviour, ditching diet mentality requires determination and hard work – but it’s all worth it in the end.
Intuitive eating embraces the idea of listening to your body’s hunger and fullness signals and responding to them without judgement, in order to honour both your emotional and physical wellbeing. Ditching diet mentality is the first step in the journey to being an intuitive eater. When you free yourself from dieting and food rules, you’ll find a sense of freedom to start truly listening to your body and also enjoying food. Feelings of food guilt and obsession will become feelings of the past.
Learn to listen to your body (again)
We’re all born with the ability to listen to our hunger and fullness signals. However, as you grow up it’s common to get out of touch with what your body is trying to tell you. From listening to diet plans that tell you exactly when you can eat to ignoring your hunger because you’re busy working, there’s no end of reasons why you might not be able to tell when you’re genuinely hungry or full.
When you have a set of food rules in place it can be easy to ignore the signals your body sends you. Instead of relying on internal signals to tell you when to start and stop eating, you’re relying on external rules. By learning to listen to your hunger and fullness signals, you start to rely on your body rather than your food rules.
Challenge food labelling
It’s common to hear food labelled as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but this black-and-white thinking can be destructive to your relationship with food. Simply put, there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. You might label broccoli as ‘good’ but if that’s all you ate, you’d start missing out on important nutrients not found in broccoli. Chocolate is often labelled ‘bad’ but if eating chocolate satisfies you emotionally and you decide to never eat it again, you’ll likely find yourself regularly obsessing over it.
Challenging the labels you give food will help to neutralise foods – they become neither good or bad. Recognise that all foods can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet when eaten in moderation. Once you truly believe in this, you’ll find you’re able to enjoy the occasions when you do eat chocolate. By removing food labels, you’ll no longer feel trapped by your food rules telling you what you can and cannot eat.
Breaking free from food rules is a transformative journey towards discovering a healthy relationship with food. It requires determination and hard work, but the end result is worth it. By ditching diet mentality, learning to listen to your body and challenging food labels, you’ll be well on your way to food freedom.