How to Stop Stressing Over Food
Tired of stressing over food? This blog post will walk you through three simple steps on how to stop stressing over food so you can enjoy it care-free.
Food should add value to your life! It shouldn’t take away from it like it used to for me.
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to travel. And sadly, years ago, all of my trips that should have been fun were actually cock blocked by how much I was stressing over food. One year I went to New York City and made a HUGE mistake that completely ruined my entire trip. I stepped on the darn scale the morning before my flight from Florida to the Big Apple.
I weighed a measly three pounds more than I thought I should weigh and that number haunted me for my entire vacation. Instead of enjoying fancy new restaurants, I pretended I wasn’t hungry and ate like a bird. When we ventured out for decadent dessert, I cringed with each bite I took. Thoughts rushed through my head like “how much bigger is my stomach?,” “how will I eat less tomorrow to make up for this?,” “have I lost those three pounds yet?” This was EXHAUSTING and all-consuming.
Before I knew it, my vacation was over and the memories that filled my precious brain space included how much I weighed, what I ate and what I did not eat. I was sad for myself and how my stress around food kept me from being present with friends and family. I felt like my whole trip was wasted because of this which made me feel terrible. Things NEEDED to change. I needed to learn how to stop stressing over food.
Through years of repairing my own relationship with food, I learned how to enjoy vacations without stressing over food. One of my favorite vacation to-dos now is trying new food at local eateries! All stress free. And I’ve compiled my top three tips to help you do this, too!
1. Screw the scale
Stop weighing yourself. Seriously! If you are micromanaging the food you eat, this is likely stemming from a desire to control your body size. And if you aren’t sure whether or not the scale impacts your relationship with food, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the pros of using the scale?
- What are the cons of using the scale?
- Does the scale impact your food choices? If so, how?
- How does the scale impact your mood?
- How does the scale fit into your food freedom journey?
It’s important to acknowledge why you keep the scale around, while at the same time acknowledging how it affects your life and relationship with food. I once had a client who used the scale to keep her body “in check,” but was a true slave to it. If she weighed just a pound more than she wanted to, she would lash out at her husband and be distracted when spending time with her son. She would eat less and feel like an anxious mess until the number on the scale went down. She could not eat food without stressing over how it would impact the size of her body.
Sure, my client did like feeling like she could keep her body “in check.” But when she looked at the big picture of how the scale negatively affected her daily life and relationship with her sweet family, she knew it wasn’t worth it. She ditched that sucker and has never looked back! Now she eats what she wants, when she wants and says this has even strengthened her relationship with her husband and son because she isn’t stressed 24/7 about food and her body.
2. Ditch the food rules
The more food rules you have, the more you will stress around food. For example, let’s say you are intermittent fasting and your eating window is between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm. What happens if your BFF has a birthday dinner scheduled for 8:30 pm?
You likely WILL want to go, but it could be a stressful experience since you are eating out of your eating window. Many women I’ve worked with told me when they ate out of their fasting window, they felt out of control. They felt like they “messed up” and that there was no point to fix things, so they’d eat whatever and vow to “get back on track” the next day.
The problem with this is that even the next day these women were stressed around food. They felt they shouldn’t eat as much, and often felt guilty and shameful for “messing up” the night prior.
When you ditch the food rules, you can’t mess up. This helps you learn how to listen to your body, like I teach my clients to do with Intuitive Eating in my Group Coaching. And when you don’t mess up, there’s no reason to stress around food!
3. Food is important, but it is not the only determinant of health
As a Registered Dietitian, I know food can positively impact your health. But when a desire for healthy eating turns into obsession and is stressful, that’s not good for your health either. I see so many women who make healthy eating their life, when in actuality it should only be a part of their life because there are many other determinants of health.
When we look at the Social Determinants of Health we can see that what we eat is only a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to our health. Other factors such as environment, medical care, genetics and biology, individual behavior and social circumstances play a role in our health. These include but are not limited to what we eat, our sleep patterns, stress levels, the environment that we live in, our genetics and spiritual practices.
So instead of only attributing health to what you eat, focus on the big picture and ways you can improve your overall health by pinpointing weak points for you when you look at the Social Determinants of Health. And remember, one meal, day or days of eating will not make or break your health. So stop stressing over what you eat!
And that’s how you eat stress-free!
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