Weight Loss

Your Relationship With Food: Eating To Live Versus Living To Eat

Lesson 8

    In order to be successful throught this weight management journey, you must change your mindset, and this may require you to improve your relationship with food. 

    10 Sign of an Unhealthy Relationship With Food

  • You think about food all the time
  • You punish yourself for breaking your food rules
  • You deny yourself the foods you crave
  • You have no self-control over food
  • You cut out entire food groups
  • Your emotions control your eating habits
  • You eat the same foods all the time
  • You prefer to eat alone
  • You are controlled by food rules
  • You suffer from food related guilt

Living to Eat

You wake up in the morning and instantly reach for your coffee. Next, you find yourself driving through the nearest fast food lane to grab a breakfast sandwich and another cup of coffee. 

Once you get to work, someone brought in cake for another employee's retirement. You tell yourself you have to have a piece because it is there. You find yourself totally ignoring what your body truly needs and discarding it for what your mind wants is 'living to eat'.

Another example is the person who is hungry, but holds off eating until their favorite television show starts so eating becomes an “event” versus the person who eats when they are hungry period. 

Eating to appease emotions, looking forward to eating as if it is an “occasion,” feeling high after eating, and craving sweets or fatty foods when stressed out or just because they need to be stimulated are all examples of living to eat.

People who “live to eat” often have a negative relationship with food. They tend to over eat their favorites, and even when they are stuffed, they keep eating because the food tastes so good or because it is there. They look forward to meals because they make them happy and they associate eating with happiness. 

Many in this predicament do not understand or practice moderation, and they feel guilt and shame associated with what they eat and their eating habits. 

Eating To Live

On the other side of the spectrum, is the person who eats to satisfy hunger. They do not have out of control cravings, they eat to satisfaction and not to the point where they are stuffed and cannot breathe. 

Food does not control them, they control food. They can choose what they eat and how often. They may indulge occasionally, but they do not feel guilty over what they eat, or the foods they want to eat. 

They view and treat food as a necessary part of survival, and recognize that while food can be pleasurable and enjoyable, it is not something required to make them happy. They have a positive relationship with food. All this describes, “eating to live.”

Can you see the contrast? 

By making healthy choices in our daily lives, we can nourish our bodies the correct way instead of abusing them. Eating to live states that you are giving your body what it needs to function and to remain functional. 

You are in tune with your body and you listen to what it needs. Eating healthy means, you must prioritize your well-being. You cannot make damaging excuses and expect to see results. It is important to realize that food is not a friend or a way of life. Food is nourishment to our bodies for health and overall energy. 

Food aids us in our daily processes and our bodily functions. Living to eat is dangerous to your health and your self-esteem. 

Something as simple as being guided by appetite is often a challenge for those who have a dysfunctional relationship with food.

Powerlessness is often at the core of these issues. Surely, you know someone who decides they want to live a healthier lifestyle; they make the decision, and then follow through. It is not a question of a struggle for them, they just do it. 

This is somewhat of a challenge for those who have a negative relationship with food, while the decision can be made, the follow through suffers.

The Solution

In order to lose weight and keep it off, we need to have a healthy relationship with food. 

Eat less and move more is the formula for weight loss, but for many it is simply not enough because there must be changes in both perspective and behavior towards food.

In reality, our mindset needs to change not only in regards to the food choices we make, but also how we relate to that food. 

This means learning healthy ways to deal with emotions so not to eat behind them and also changing how we perceive food.

A big part of this process is learning to listen to your body and being able to identify real hunger, versus habitual or dysfunctional eating. 

Many people simply cannot identify genuine hunger; this is especially true for emotional eaters who eat behind stress, loneliness, and boredom. There is a better relationship to be had with food. It is time to change this mindset and stop feeling guilty over your choices, get healthy and empowered!

How Do We Form A Healthy Relationship To Food? 

Slow Down

Take your time to eat. Allow your body to get the nutrients it needs from whatever you are ingesting. If you feel the urge to grab something quick for lunch for the sake of time, don’t do it. Instead, make time for a better meal. Choose healthy and actually sit down to eat. Make time for yourself and your body.

Eat with your body

You must start listening to your body, instead of your mind. Our minds can play tricks on us and will make us think we want what we really don’t. 

Sure, the cake tastes good and we really think we want it. However, does our body need it? 

Practice makes perfect with this and as you learn, you will understand what your body is telling you. Think about what will benefit your health instead of what will benefit your impulses. 

Instead of trying to satisfy your impulses, learn to satisfy your body’s needs. 

Yoga can be very helpful in this regard, as it teaches mindfulness and allows practitioners to become much more aware of their body and its needs, including identifying true hunger. 

Professional Help

A trained therapist or a support group like Overeaters Anonymous can help you build a healthy relationship with food. If your problem is severe, professional intervention can really go a long way to making changes that will support your weight loss efforts for the long term.