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Steps to Having a Healthier Relationship with Food

It can be challenging to have a perfectly healthy relationship with food. Some people feel guilty eating what they crave, or they work out so that they can eat an extra serving of their favorite meal. I wouldn’t even say that I have a perfect relationship with what I eat, but I try every day.

Sadly, these unhealthy mindsets are very common, but here are some ways to not fall into those false, toxic habits.

Have a balance.

I firmly believe that the best diet to have is a balanced one. A balanced diet does not mean cutting out certain foods or ingredients but just being mindful of what you eat.

If you try to eat two healthy meals a day, then it is okay to have pizza or fries and chicken nuggets for the other meal. Life is too short to cut out foods you love and deprive yourself of them. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself.

The biggest thing is to be mindful of what you eat. Even if you have two big, slightly less healthy meals one day, have three healthy meals the next day. You do not need to be hard on yourself or put yourself down for switching it up.

Don’t count calories.

Counting calories is one of the scariest habits I have seen a couple of my friends fall into. It can cause such a toxic mindset toward certain kinds of food, and it can often leave you hungry.

I had a friend who counted their calories so religiously that they never ate what they truly wanted. They constantly complained about what they had to eat, always brought their weight and insecurity into conversations, and were still unsatisfied.

It was hard to see my friend like that and listen to their dissatisfaction for a considerable part of their lives. If I’m honest, their mindset started to affect my own, as well. I felt as though I had to restrict myself and not eat how I usually would when with that friend.

It was a sad situation, but once they trained themself to think better about their eating habits, they became happier and more accepting of themself and others.

Religiously counting calories usually isn’t even accurate either because we burn about 2,000 calories a day by just living and breathing. Two thousand calories balance out most of what we eat, plus walking or exercising throughout the day burns even more. I just do not believe counting calories is a fair way to treat your body, and it can be a constant toxic thought that affects yourself and those you care about around you.

Food is not the enemy.

It can be easy to think that eating dessert after your dinner or eating an extra portion will make you gain weight. However, this will not happen and that isn’t how our bodies work. It all goes back to having a balance.

You can eat dessert every once in a while and not feel guilty about it. Having a second portion of your favorite meal isn’t something to feel guilty about either. Neither of these things will make you gain several pounds overnight. As long as you’re maintaining a balance and a healthy exercise habit, it isn’t something to constantly deny yourself of. It is also okay to fulfill your cravings.

Don’t workout so that you can eat.

It would be best if you did not workout to feel better about eating extra after you do. This is a horrible concept to convince yourself of.

Working out should be something you tailor to yourself and your likes or dislikes so that you enjoy it. It should be something you don’t mind doing multiple times a week and you should be doing it for yourself. It is so important to workout to feel and look good for yourself, not anyone else. The goal should be feeling healthy and confident in your own skin.

These new mindsets can be hard to implement overnight, but the more you work to have a healthier relationship with food, is when you may start feeling better about yourself altogether.

The most significant things to start right now are having that balance and being mindful of what you eat. It isn’t about cutting things out or depriving yourself, but eating a mix of foods and eating healthy portions of them.

Marlena is a third-year in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State where she is majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Psychology and Digital Media Trends and Analytics. She is so grateful to be at Penn State and loves learning more about communications, her peers, and herself every day. She hopes to use this knowledge and her own positive outlook to help others in any way she can.
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