Today I wish to discuss an extremely important topic: how to form a healthy relationship with food. To clarify, I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I have suffered from ED thoughts in the past. In the past, I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. I counted calories, restricted myself and feared certain dishes. It’s been a long journey but I finally feel like I’m ready to talk about this subject as my mindset regarding nutrition is the clearest it has ever been. I hope the following tips help!
1.) Unfollow Anything You Find Triggering
A couple of weeks ago, whilst scrolling through Twitter, I saw a post discussing diet culture buzz words to look out for. This list included: • “detox” • “cleanse” • “cheat” • “indulge” • “deserve” • “earn” • “work off” • “naughty” • “sinful” • “guilt-free” • “beach body”
Social media influencers need to be aware of how damaging these terms are to impressionable followers. They are filled with guilt-ridden connotations to shame anybody reading them. Last year, a girl I followed on social media was travelling through Europe at the same time as me. I was loving all of her photographs and posts until I read something that made me unfollow her on the spot. She had spent all day hiking with her partner (was already super fit, healthy and slim – not that this matters) and referred to the vegan ice cream she ate at the end of the day, as ‘naughty.’ I’m sure she didn’t mean to trigger anybody but that one word was enough to upset me. Imagine what it would have done to someone reading it with an actual eating disorder? There is nothing naughty or sinful about eating a delicious ice cream in Italy. Or anywhere for that matter! I ate several whilst travelling through Europe and didn’t regret a single one. I urge anybody reading this, who is susceptible to food-guilt, to unfollow accounts that mention the terms listed above. Trust me, you will feel so much better. Better still, follow people that enjoy food and life. Unless you are eating tubs of ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you should not view them as a ‘treat.’ This is an unhealthy mindset and one that needs reworking.
2.) Focus On Being Healthy, Not Skinny…
Repeat after me: Skinny Does Not Equal Healthy! You could have an incredibly slim figure but if you are restricting calories, making yourself sick and thinking about every milligram you put into your mouth, you are not healthy. Mentally or physically. In order to change your relationship towards food, you need to see it as fuel that your body needs in order to thrive. Unfortunately, the media has made many men and women feel they need to look a certain way in order to be considered ‘beautiful’ or ‘healthy.’ But what we don’t see, is the amount of over-exercising and under-eating these celebrities go through in order to maintain a figure that’s ‘ideal.’ Moreover, what is the ideal weight or look? Who determined that in the first place? To me, if you are anorexic or obese, that is not ideal or healthy. If you are riddled with diseases due to your weight (high blood pressure, diabetes etc.) that is not ideal or healthy. If you don’t have a thigh gap? Who the hell cares?! Health is all about balance and not bordering on either extreme. This point does tie in with my first one but please do not use celebrities or models as goals to aspire to. You do not know their diet or how much work goes into maintaining their weight. Try to focus on your overall health instead of just the physical.
3.) Live Your Life!
What do I mean by this? Well to give you a personal example, one of my biggest ‘food’ fears was oil. It wasn’t until I returned from Europe and fell pregnant, that the fear disappeared completely. Why was I so afraid of oil? Because I, like so many other of my friends, began listening to a community of extremists on social media called the HCLF (High Carb, Low Fat) Movement. They believed that the ideal diet focused on consuming high quantities of carbohydrates and very little to no fat. This included healthy fats such as avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds. Oil, in their personal opinion, was the devil itself. I’m a tad embarrassed to admit that I jumped straight onto this bandwagon. I started refusing to cook with oil, I scanned every single product in the supermarket to make sure it was oil-free, I never ate hot chips when offered (even though I wanted to) and I would ask my friends/family to make me oil-free dishes when invited for dinner. Yes, I was that bad. I could write a whole blog post on how extremely damaging the HCLF Movement was to so many girls like me but that is a whole separate post in itself. Fortunately, this craze is pretty much over now thanks to many intelligent social-media celebrities coming forward and saying this is not a healthy way to live and to stop listening to these fear-mongering, money-driven moguls. Girls were actually losing their period because they had stopped consuming fats. It was very dangerous and created many eating disorders.
When I finally woke up, I realised how much of my life I hadn’t been living. I began cooking with oil again, ordering whatever I wanted from the menu, eating hot chips (a huge craving in my pregnancy) and buying products that were made with oil. I cannot believe how brainwashed I had been. Think about all of the life you are missing out on when you fear certain foods. If you only cook for yourself or decline social invitations, you are limiting happiness and joy. How freeing would it be to go out with friends, enjoy a meal and not think once about the food you just consumed? It can be just like that but you need to start putting yourself out there. Nothing bad will happen to you I promise. Oil has done absolutely nothing to me. Again, unless you are eating deep fried food all the time, you do not have to feel guilty for eating something cooked in oil. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life living in such fear? It’s so much better on the other side, trust me!
4.) Eat It Anyway
A girl I follow online (who has recovered from an eating disorder) has a great attitude towards food. Her philosophy is, if her mind tells her she probably shouldn’t eat that piece of chocolate, she ignores it and eats it anyway. This way of thinking has helped her recover faster than anything else. She is very happy, healthy and helping so many other young girls now overcome their own eating disorders. She enjoys life. She does not let food control her. If you allow your mind to guilt and pressure you over every single thing you consume, you are no longer working together. I love this message she shared over Easter on her Instagram:
A friendly reminder that if you “indulged” on chocolate/hot cross buns/baked goods or anything at all over the weekend or do so on any given day or night, that guilt never should be applied to enjoyment.
Life is meant to be enjoyed, and food should be enjoyable.
(Not to mention that we should be grateful to have the option to be able enjoy food on a regular basis)
Follow Laiken Richelle for more body positivity, self-love and inspiration.
I’m so happy I no longer have an unhealthy relationship towards food. It scares me to think what my daughter might have picked up from my behaviour if I hadn’t escaped the damaging spiral I was in. Once you form a healthy relationship with food, you will find it much simpler to eat a balanced diet. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below. If you have any additional tips, feel free to add them. Thank you for reading.
Peace & Love xoxo