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Discovering your Relationship with Food

**Disclaimer: I realize that unfortunately there are people in our community who may not have the resources available to them to have access to proper nutritious and helpful foods. There are also people who, although they have the financial capacity to acquire nutritious foods, may see food in general as a stressor or a trigger for unpleasant reactions or thoughts.

Please see this series as simply a guide to be observed as just that. You are not a failure if you cannot or do not make these suggestions a part of your life.

Simply continue to do the best that you can manage every day. That is enough.**

Not many people realize that the relationship you have with food resembles that of one with a partner. It can be healthy, toxic, abusive, dependant, or even nonexistent.

This food relationship can be formed from many things.

Here are just a few examples to get you thinking about where you may stand with yours:

  • Childhood habits or traumas

  • Availability of food

  • Stressful reaction to situations

  • Self-sabotage/harm

Knowing Yourself and Your Illness

Let’s dive in a little bit, allow me to share my food struggles.

I fall into bingeing habits when I am sad, stressed, anxious, or mainly when I am unable to be as active as I would prefer. I lean heavily on the sparks of endorphins released in my brain as I eat a batch of pancakes, a box of macaroni and cheese, or a bag of popcorn. I know what I am doing while I am eating, but I can’t stop. There is a self-sabotage side of this too. “If you tore a ligament and can’t race anymore then why try to be healthy”. The negativity cycle begins.

Being a forever student of nutrition, the gut/brain connection, and an advocate for wellness, I sometimes feel ashamed about the patterns that I fall into with food. But if I were to take a step back, and see myself as perhaps a client seeking guidance, I would say there is nothing to be ashamed about. I would tell her that she is doing what she feels she needs to do to get through the day, the week, these uncertain times.

Sometimes our brains don’t produce the “happy hormones” and so we try to manifest them with seeking out harmful replacements. Thinking of my example, when I am unable to attain endorphins from exercising, I lean heavily on the dopamine released from the pleasure of eating all the comfort food I can get my hands on.

I tell you my story because even though I struggle with this, I still feel adequate to provide support to others and encourage a more balanced relationship with food.

You are not your illness or your disability.

It is a part of you.

Where Does Food Fall Into Your Awareness?

Are you aware of what you are putting in your body, or is it just “fuel”? Are you aware of how you feel before, during, and after you ate or skipped a meal?

Are mealtimes a blur? Something you look forward to? Something you dread?

Any little question you can ask yourself about food will bring light into one more aspect of your day and life. A small amount of awareness goes a long way.

And the more questions you ask yourself, the deeper you can go.

With that said I want you to try to ask yourself these questions each day. Either before a meal or at any time during the day when you have a moment to sit with yourself and let the answers resonate. If at any time you feel anxious or overwhelmed, just stop and continue with the rest of your day. You can try again the next day if you wish.

What does food mean to me?

How does food (eating it, preparing it, smelling it) make me feel?

What were mealtimes like when I was a child?

Does my mood control what I eat?

Do I knowingly eat things I know I shouldn’t / have bad reactions to?

These are just a few questions to get you in the mindset of awareness in regards to your food. Becoming self-aware can be a bit scary because once you begin to understand why you do what you do it can be followed with the assumed responsibility to do something about the bad habits. I want you to ignore that second thought. You do not need to feel pressure to do anything at all.

You simply are becoming aware.

You are getting to know the beautiful person that you are a little better.

Next week I’ll walk you through writing and keeping a food/mood journal. It’s a very helpful tool to get you on your way to food/self-awareness. It is something that helped me so much many years ago when I started my nutrition journey, and I look forward to where it will take you.

Wishing you health and peace, ~Angela

Useful Tools and Explanation of Terms:

All of these apps are free with some having in-app purchases.

Negativity cycle: you have negative thoughts, that lead to negative actions, which foster more negative thoughts, and on it goes.

Gut/brain connection: “The gut-brain axis refers to the physical and chemical connections between your gut and brain. Millions of nerves and neurons run between your gut and brain. Neurotransmitters and other chemicals produced in your gut also affect your brain”

(Written by Ruairi Robertson, Ph.D. — Updated on August 20, 2020)

Happy hormones:

Dopamine: large role in the brain’s reward system, pleasure

Endorphins: ie: runner’s high, relaxation,

Oxytocin: connection, trusting, love

Serotonin: the feeling of being happy, mood balancing, wellbeing

© 2020 Go With Goals

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