In order to truly make peace with food, you have to build trust between yourself and your body. How do you do that? Give yourself unconditional permission to eat what your body wants and explore food from a neutral standpoint.
You may be thinking that you can’t control yourself around certain foods. Dieting teaches you to feel this way because of cheating, bingeing, and food guilt of forbidden foods. In fact, these reactions are your body’s response to dieting and deprivation. When you choose to end the cycle of deprivation and food guilt, allowing yourself to have these “trigger foods” any time you want them, they will begin to lose the power to trigger overeating and guilt.
You naturally want what you can’t have. Studies have repeatedly proven that when you restrict or deny access to certain foods, people become obsessed with and crave that food, no matter what it is. If you need further proof of this response, try telling a kid that they can eat any snack except one. Most of the time they will decide they want the one that you said they could not have.
How do you break that cycle and finally make peace with food? You can follow these 4 steps to start making peace with food.
1. Identify Foods You Like That You Have Been Restricting
Take a few minutes to make a list of foods you like that you normally don’t get to have often. This can include any foods that you love or crave (i.e. tacos, ice cream, chocolate, your favorite dish from a restaurant, etc). List however many foods you want. The size of the list is not important, and you can put anything you want on it.
2. Pick a Food You Want To Focus On
You can choose any food off of your list. If the thought of having unrestricted access to most of these foods makes you anxious, you might try the food you feel least nervous about eating. You can also opt for your favorite food or one you have been craving.
Once you have selected a food, go buy enough of the food that you will be able to have some any time you want it, and keep it in the house. Give yourself permission to eat it whenever you want it. If you chose a food item from a restaurant, give yourself permission to order and enjoy it at any time.
3. Enjoy The Food Mindfully
Now, you finally get to eat the food that you selected. While you are eating ask yourself whether the food tastes as good as you remembered or imagined and if you would like to eat it again sometime. If the answer is yes, then continue to allow yourself to buy or eat it whenever.
You may find that you are not as fond of some foods as you thought. Sometimes, we crave food simply because it is off-limits, and it is not near as appealing once we have a chance to sit down and really taste it.
4. Repeat these Steps Until You Feel Better About Food
When you have come to terms with the first food you picked and have gotten used to having it available, repeat the same steps with another food. Keep doing this until you feel like you can trust yourself with food and you can be trusted to provide your body with the food it desires
What To Do Next
Making peace with food can take weeks or months. There is not a set timeframe for reaching the place where you feel comfortable with and trust yourself around food. It is a personal process that is meant to be worked through and enjoyed by you and for you.
The next step is to reinforce this peace and trust by challenging your inner dialogue that likes to judge everything from your food choices to how much you eat. When you are ready to proceed, you can continue to the next step