This is such an important topic, especially given that the online ‘wellness’ sphere can sometimes feel like it’s just Diet Culture repackaged!
It’s such a beautiful and special thing to have a healthy relationship with food, but it doesn’t always come easy to everyone, especially if you have a history with disordered eating, or any shame or guilt around enjoying food. So I wanted to discuss some of my favourite pieces of advice on how to cultivate a healthy relationship with your food all year round, and ensure that even on massive occasions like Christmas, that you’re not experiencing any unnecessary food guilt, and that you’re simply enjoying in for the nourishment, taste, pleasure and nutrition that it is!
This is a big one! How we speak (whether that’s out aloud to others, or just in our heads) really matters, and it shapes the way we think and feel about food. So if you’re on a healing journey of some sort, or are committed to a healthy sustainable diet that works for you, it might mean you have some food restrictions in your life (e.g., low sugar or gluten free). Depending on the language you use around your food choices, having dietary requirements could either feel like you’re restricted or empowered by your food choices. But everything is a choice! And so if you’re looking to release that feeling of restriction and resentment around your food choices, you can simply shift your language!
Restricted: No, I can’t eat that, I can’t have gluten.
Empowered: I’m avoiding gluten and I’m feeling so much healthier so I’m going to stick to it!
On a similar note, it is equally important to own the decisions you make in regards to your health and your relationship with food. The main thing is to focus on the why behind your health choices. When you focus on your specific reason for feeling better, and why you make these specific dietary choices for your health, it becomes so much easier to feel empowered and motivated by your choices, instead of held back by them. Own your choices, guilt free! Enjoy your food, or say no when you feel it isn’t right for your body and won’t make you feel good. If you eat too much or something ‘wrong’ (even though no food is wrong), accept it and let go of any shame or guilt. You will feel so much lighter and compassionate towards yourself.
This one might be my favourite!
If you’re someone who has a tendency to make your ‘unhealthy’ cravings off limits, to restrict them or cut them out entirely, you might find yourself consumed with even stronger cravings for those particular foods, which can sometimes then lead to overwhelming indulgence or binge eating, when you feel like the craving has gotten out of control and you have no choice but to just eat way too much for what your body actually needs, or what you even wanted in the first place. However, if you’re really craving some chocolate cake, and you make the conscious decision to absolutely delight and enjoy one piece of cake after dinner, you are far more likely to feel balanced and content around the decision, and much less likely to feel the urge to binge and eat the whole cake. Indulge in your cravings! Food is meant to be enjoyed, and when you’re enjoying a diet that doesn’t feel restrictive, then you’ll have the freedom to enjoy your favourite ‘naughty’ foods without any of the unnecessary shame.
A health journey is supposed to be exciting, and enjoyable! It is supposed to bring us peace, energy, and a symptom-free life, and it shouldn’t have to feel like a punishment. Have an attitude of balance and acceptance, and the ability to enjoy your cravings in moderation instead of restricting them all together is the secret to a healthy diet and lifestyle that is not only fun, but actually sustainable!
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