Creating a healthy relationship with food is something many women struggle with. This comes as no surprise when from a young age, we have been exposed to endless fad diets and societal pressures to look a certain way.
So, where do we start? Improving our mindset around food usually requires unlearning feelings of guilt around eating and finding the right balance for you. We sat down with founder of the Body Image Movement, Taryn Brumfitt, to discuss the importance of having a healthy relationship with food and what that looks like for her.
Taryn has left fad diets behind and practices intuitive eating, which is a way of eating based on the body’s natural hunger and fullness signals. “I used to be very restrictive in my eating and concerned about calories, whereas now I feel a real sense of freedom that comes from enjoying food without any guilt.”
Focus on listening to your body and fueling it with nutritious, whole foods you enjoy, rather than labeling food as “good” or “bad”. You shouldn’t feel guilt or shame for occasionally eating those more indulgent foods, when you prioritize nourishing your body a majority of the time. Enjoy that slice of birthday cake at the office, pizza night or glass of wine with your girlfriends!
Food as fuel
Unfortunately for us, intuitive eating does not mean eating whatever you want, whenever you want. “Embracing your body isn’t eating 20 donuts on the couch. It’s about striking a balance between eating well and mindfully, but also allowing yourself to enjoy food."
This balance is unique to everyone, but we all know the adage “you are what you eat”. The link between diet and mental and physical health is now more apparent than ever. Deakin University’s Food and Mood Centre has found that diets such as the Mediterranean, rich in plant-based goodness, healthy fats from nuts, fish and lean meats and low amounts of processed foods can reduce the risk of some mental disorders.
Eating to feel better or relieve stress is known as emotional eating. Treating your emotions with food as a temporary fix can result in an unhealthy mindset around food. It can be difficult to retrain our mind, but try and think about food as fuel to make you feel energized, rather than something to fix an issue. The Butterfly Foundation offers free support for anyone in Australia concerned by an eating disorder or body image issue.
It can take time to repair an unhealthy relationship with food and find the right balance, and that’s okay. Start slow by introducing more leafy greens into your diet and know that you’re doing something your mind and body will thank you for. If you’d like more support, our Food Coaching aims to optimize your health and boost energy, based on the Mediterranean diet and research from the Food and Mood Centre.