Think of a great meal you’ve eaten. I mean a really good meal. Something delicious and filling. The portions just keep coming. The food makes you feel warm and happy, like you’re visiting a place that gives you fond memories. The dishes remind you of home or your grandmother or an exciting time in your life. Did you have an amazing meal during a trip once? Or when you were a child at your family home? Maybe you used to go to a particular restaurant to study during college, and you always got that big pastrami sandwich and a side of tater tots. Remember it! Remember how thrilling it was to fill up on food that exemplified how fulfilling food can be.
Do you remember the stomach ache after the meal? Or how the food maybe didn’t taste as awesome as you expected? Or how you didn’t actually finish that meal the first time around?
Probably not, because in these instances you’ve assigned emotional responses to food. You aren’t remembering the physical experience but rather the outer lying things that made that food experience great.
We all have happy memories about food. Those memories give us comfort and make us want to eat the food that made us comfortable. This is called emotional eating and it’s something a lot of people can relate to.
The instinct to eat what makes you happy and eat it until you feel satiated aren’t bad instincts. But likely, like most of us, your instincts could use recalibration if you’ve become emotionally dependent on food.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to change your relationship with food.
How to Change Your Relationship with Food
Psychological Underpinnings of Food Relationship
A paper from Cambridge University Press states that “A commonly-held view is that food cravings are expressions of bodily wisdom, elicited by need and serving to stimulate consumption of the required nutrient.” We like to believe that our biological reactions are honest. However, the paper from Cambridge goes on to say that, “This position is becoming increasingly contentious as new research evidence accumulates.”
A lot of factors contribute to our relationship with food psychology. Factors such as peer pressure, social circumstances, the circumstances surrounding our upbringing, etc. can all contribute to our instinctive relationship with food.
While attitudes toward healthy eating habits have started to become more popular in the medical profession and with health experts, it wasn’t that long ago that people didn’t talk about eating well. Most of us grew up in a culture where the healthiness of food wasn’t the most important concern.
As a result, most of us develop instincts about food that leave us craving food in amounts that aren’t healthy. These patterns tend to surpass simple habit. According to Florida International University, we tend to develop complex psychological underpinnings that dictate our relationship with our own appetite.
All of this leaves you to asking yourself, “Do I have an unhealthy relationship with food?”
Because you might.
According to Scientific Research Open Access, the psychological realities of developing cravings have many aspects. There can be social aspects or factors related to existing frustrations in our lives. Repeated behaviors reinforce habits and create physiological reactions to particular stimulations.
So, if we develop a reward response to eating larger portions, or foods that aren’t the most healthy options for us such as becoming addicted to sugar, then we reinforce the physiological pleasure response and create an unhealthy relationship with food.
Retraining Your Unhealthy Relationship with Food and Overeating
The good news is that it is possible to retrain your instincts and improve your relationship with food. The same physiological underpinnings of developing a bad relationship with food can be retrained to improve your habits.
Experts at Psychology Today produced results from work studying the psychology of habit-forming. New behaviors turn into habits when they become automatic. When a behavior becomes subconscious, enacted with hardly any conscious awareness, that’s a new habit. According to their study, “the behavioral patterns we repeat most often are literally etched into our neural pathways.”
The Ultimate Freedom Approach has been designed to do exactly that. It’s not about depriving yourself of the food you love, or about punishing yourself for eating. If you’re already struggling with your relationship with food, then it doesn’t serve your weight loss goals to make you feel bad about yourself in a different way.
Instead, the Ultimate Freedom Approach retrains your habits and improves your relationship with food. The methods outlined in my approach are designed to address the psychological and physiological underpinnings of food cravings.
With my method, you’ll unlearn the “rules” that you’ve accumulated from dieting in the past. You’ll learn new rules that nurture improved eating habits and help to enable weight loss goals, without diet and exercise.
My clients lose weight while eating the food they love. They listen to their body’s instinctive hunger and believe it, because we’ve retrained their bodies to experience more honest cravings.
The key to how to change your relationship with food is retraining your body. In order to unlearn habits of overeating and your unhealthy relationship with food, you’ll begin by understanding the motivations behind your existing eating habits. Once you know those psychological motivators, you’ll be able to start habit-forming behaviors to improve your habits and your food relationships.