It is estimated that a mere 10% of people with eating disorders seek treatment – at least in part a commentary on what we label “disordered eating” and what we think is “normal” eating these days. Although most people will never reach full criteria for an eating disorder, not having a diagnosable disorder does not necessarily mean that our relationship with food is healthy. Wondering if your relationship with food could use some work? Ask yourself how many of these common signs apply to you:
1. Guilt after eating
Guilt is an emotion meant to be reserved for immoral behavior and yet many of us have learned to judge not only our eating behavior but often our character based on what we eat. Eating (whatever it is or however much) is not an issue of morality. It is a matter of meeting physical, and sometimes emotional, needs. If we are meeting emotional needs with food, it is simply a sign that we need to take better care of ourselves, NOT a cue for self-judgment.
2. Food on the brain
Find yourself thinking about food a lot? As in, planning what you can have, should have, shouldn’t have, or wish you hadn’t had? Spending a lot of energy planning your food intake or compensating for your food intake is a sure-fire sign that food issues are taking up too much space in your life. Most of the time we only need to think about what we are going to eat in the moments before and during our eating experiences, as in “Am I Hungry?,” “What Am I Hungry For?, or “Yum!”. How often do you trust your body to make food choices for you in the moment? This leads us to #3…
3. Ignoring hunger signals
How often do you find yourself delaying eating because you don’t feel that you should be hungry again yet? Or, it’s not convenient to eat? Or, because you are trying to control your food intake? Not only does ignoring hunger indicate that you don’t trust your body, it teaches your body that it can’t trust you and slows metabolism to prepare for what it believes may be impending famine.
4. Ignoring fullness signals
There are so many reasons that we eat past fullness that I will save those for another post! The bottom line is that eating past fullness is only occasionally about the food itself being so absolutely amazing that we can’t pass it up. If you find yourself consistently ignoring these signals, there is more to the story.
5. Food rules the day
Does your mood, enjoyment of events, or the whole tone of your day depend on how things went at breakfast (or what the scale said)? Any one factor in our life setting the tone for the whole thing suggests that we are out of balance.
Life has too much to offer to spend it fixated on food or totally ignoring our body’s needs. A healthy relationship with food is governed by trusting your body’s cues and having compassion for yourself when it becomes tempting to use food to solve other issues. If you regularly experience any of these signs, it might be time to take a closer look at your relationship with food!