April 18, 2013 Jeanne Rust

Developing a Healthy Relationship with Food

The goal of becoming an attuned eater is to develop a healthy relationship with food. That's different than deciding to eat only healthy foods! There is so much angst these days over what's "good" to eat and what's "bad" to eat, that food often causes more anxiety than enjoyment.

Remember that as you decide what to eat, the goal is to "make a match" that will satisfy your hunger. You may also take other factors into consideration as you decide what will truly nourish you. Perhaps you're a vegetarian or keep kosher, and these philosophical views affect your choices about how to feed yourself. Perhaps you have some sort of physical illness or condition where eating – or not eating – certain foods supports your health and well-being. If so, deciding to make these adjustments to your food choices as you honor your hunger and fullness is an act of self-care in the service of promoting wellness, rather than an act of deprivation in the service of pursuing weight loss.

Ultimately, the question for you to consider is what feels good and what feels bad as you decide how to listen to your physical hunger. A cheeseburger can feel like a great match on a day that you crave protein, and it can feel like a terrible match on a day that your body needs something lighter in your stomach. Likewise, an apple can feel like a great match when your body craves something sweet and crunchy, or it can feel like a terrible match when you need something more substantial in your body.

By keeping all types of foods available, and tuning into your body's needs, you'll find that you can naturally incorporate healthy foods into your life. As diet survivors let go of judgments about what they should eat, we've never met anyone who only wants cakes, cookies, ice cream and chips. But we've also never met anyone who only wants salads, broccoli and oranges. (In fact, sometimes people find that eating "healthy foods" makes them feel like they're on a diet – but we'll save that for another time!) The difference is that rather than deciding to eat these foods because of external rules and restrictions, as an attuned eater you'll experience the pleasure that comes from nourishing yourself from the inside out!