Are you obsessed with food?
If you are, I can relate.
I struggled with overeating and binge eating for years.
I repeatedly revived myself with a new diet plan or “lifestyle change” only to end up feeling defeated when I couldn’t stick with it.
I was so desperate to eat a perfect diet, lose weight, and be more fit – but the truth is, I was miserable.
Well, if you can relate to being trapped in this type of diet cycle I am here to tell you there is hope.
I’m currently living free from food rules, diets, and counting (calories, carbs, etc).
And guess what? I am happier with my body than I have ever been. I don’t fret over how much I’ll overeat when I go to a party or that I won’t be able to stop eating when I’m home alone and bored, stressed, or depressed.
If you are feeling controlled by food then I’m sure you can imagine how liberated I feel to be free from the control food once had over me.
Whether you suffer from binge eating, overeating, or simply too many food rules, I want nothing more than for you to reach food freedom as well.
Below are 5 of the most important changes that happened within me to make this transformation possible, and they may just make your own transformation possible too!
5 Important Changes That Helped Me Stop Being Obsessed With Food
I Stopped Focusing On My Weight
Much of what made me obsessed with food was the desire to be thinner and to look more fit.
Looking back I realize how crazy this was because I was in shape! If I could have stopped obsessing over food back then I probably would have avoided ever gaining weight and developing prediabetes.
Since I decided I was no longer going to focus on my weight but rather on my health I got rid of both my scale and my full-length mirror for a while
Those small changes made all the difference in the world.
It meant no weighing myself to determine my progress. Why? Because my value as a person has no connection to a number on the scale.
Along with this, I stopped looking at myself critically in the mirror. No pinching fat, obsessing over whether my tummy looked skinny or fat that day, or wishing I had a different shape.
Getting rid of the scale was easier than getting rid of the mirror but with time and new thought patterns, it became easier.
This one definitely took some time and self-awareness – but it was truly liberating.
I spent so many years feeling guilty about eating certain foods that I perceived as being bad. I also spent years feeling guilty for the sheer quantity of food I would eat.
We generally eat food we perceive as “bad” because it tastes good and/or it numbs us from feeling certain emotions.
But something you should always remember is that guilt is not going to help either of these situations.
If you eat something because you like the way it tastes and then turn around and feel guilty for eating it, then the guilt destroys any of the pleasure of having eaten the food.
Instead, we can do the opposite.
We can make a conscious effort to enjoy our food by slowing down and paying attention to our senses when we eat, while at the same time not feeling guilty for eating it.
Now, if you ate out of boredom, sadness, stress/anxiety, etc., then feeling guilty isn’t going to get to the root of the emotional problem.
But my guilt didn’t just stop at food.
I also had fitness guilt. I had an all or nothing exercise mentality. If I couldn’t go to the gym for a kick-ass workout of cardio, weights, and stretching, then I wouldn’t go at all.
Then I would feel guilty for doing nothing and I would feel run down because I wasn’t moving my body.
Now, I push myself to move consistently throughout the day because I recognize that it makes me feel good. Whether it’s getting up from my computer and stretching every hour or taking a walk at lunch or after dinner, I make sure to move every day.
I do enjoy exercise, so I still go to the gym when I can. But I’m okay if I only have 20-30 minutes to exercise.
That approach has made my exercise habits more consistent, which makes me feel better overall.
Living free of food and fitness guilt is truly freeing and in the long run, makes it easier to choose mostly healthy foods while not feeling obsessed about or deprived of foods you really like.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore! You can enjoy the taste of eating right while not feeling restricted from those not-so-healthy foods. Learn how to do that here.
I Separated Diet and Exercise
I can’t even tell you how many times I exercised as a means to justify either what I had already eaten or what I anticipated eating later that day or week.
I felt good based on how many calories the cardio machine at the gym told me I had burned.
The truth is, this system of trying to use exercise to balance your diet just doesn’t work because it doesn’t foster a healthy relationship with food or exercise.
If anything, this made me even more obsessed with food.
Now I eat healthily and exercise because it makes me feel better physically and mentally – but I don’t beat myself up when I fall off the path for a period of time.
Exercise is no longer a punishment for what I’ve eaten but a celebration that moving my body feels good.
I Started Listening to My Body
After spending years allowing meal plans, calorie level, or food rules to dictate what I could eat, it took quite some time before I could even hear let alone trust my body’s intuition.
To begin the process, start by feeding your body adequate meals consistently throughout the day
As your body gets used to being fed a balanced consistent diet throughout the day it will begin to show you appropriate signs of hunger and satiety.
If you want more information on this, consider signing up for a coaching session with me for help fine-tuning your nutrition and becoming an empowered eater (you can also schedule a free strategy session with me here).
Start recognizing that you are important. You deserve to stop what you are doing and eat if you are hungry.
Make feeding yourself when you are hungry a priority. For most, waiting until you are famished to eat will only lead to overeating and diminished willpower.
On the flip side of that, it is also important to listen to your body when it says you’ve had enough.
For me, this one was harder to master, but with practice, self-awareness, and confidence in yourself it gets easier.
Listening to your body also means listening to what your body wants to eat. Are you desiring food for emotional reasons, or do you really want the cookie? If you really want to eat the cookie, then eat the cookie mindfully. Here are some tips on getting started with mindful eating.
If you are eating for emotional reasons then address the emotion.
I Started Eating Slower
I really saved the best for last here.
Slowing down when you eat is beyond important. In fact, if you could master eating slowly and mindfully, then over half of your food worries would probably be solved.
It’s not an easy feat, though. In fact, I still struggle with this one – but I make a consistent effort to improve it.
Studies have shown that eating slower not only allows your body to fill up on less food, but also keeps you satisfied longer…and I don’t know about you, but feeling satisfied is a must if you don’t want to obsess about food all the time.
If you want some tips on how to slow down and eat less, check out this blog post.
I know how painful it was when I was obsessed with food. Being controlled by food is overwhelming and extremely difficult to deal with, therefore I want nothing more than to end the pain that food causes so many people.
If you are ready to start the New Year off by eating right and exercising because you love your body and not because you hate the way it looks, then I invite you to join my free online community: End Emotional & Binge Eating with Dietitian Dina
If you want to learn more about my services and my commitment to helping my clients reach all their health goals, contact me today.
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This article was originally published on December 31, 2015 and has been updated.