How I learned to heal my relationship with food

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Like many women I know, I have a complex relationship with food. Love it. Hate it. Crave it. Control it. I have had body image issues for as long as I can remember. In truth, I think my unhealthy relationship with food comes from a variety of sources, some of which could have been avoided and others were really unavoidable. I’m doing my darndest to shield my daughter from our societal "norms" when it comes to body image and body importance, but I know that won't last forever.

Just because you’re in your 40s doesn’t mean your issues with food subside. They don’t. But with age, comes wisdom (we hope!).  Gone are the days that I want my body to be pick thin. Gone are the days that I live off of cigarettes, coffee and the occasional salad. Those days are looong gone and I don’t miss them one bit.

It’s taken me awhile to get into a new groove with the food I eat. It’s not a perfect relationship, but no relationship is. And there were some key turning points in my relationship with food that I think helped me come to a place of peace with the food I eat and the body I have.

Knowledge is em(power)ment

As part of my journey to heal my relationship with food, I started learning more about the food we eat, how it is processed in the body and the kinds of fuel my body needs to feel my best. I even went back to school to study nutrition, so I could understand what I should be eating. It’s a lifelong journey, but it has helped me immensely. Here are some resources I recommend:

  • Women, Food and God. by Geneen Roth. This book sat on my shelf for years, unread. I don’t think I was ready for it at the time. Then one day, I was. I opened it up and it changed my life. Read it, you won’t regret it.

  • Food: What the heck should I eat? By Dr. Mark Hyman. This doc is the real deal. He is extremely knowledgeable and if you’re the kind of person who needs their facts based in science, he’s your guy.

  • Food Freedom Forever By Melissa Hartwig. If you're familiar with the Whole 30, you might be familiar with this book. But even if you're not, Melissa outlines a plan for you to achieve Food Freedom - essentially, not beholden to cravings and out of control eating. Hint: You will need to do the Whole 30 or a form of it to achieve Food Freedom, but it's well worth it.

  • The Ultimate Health Podcast - by Marnie Wasserman and Jessie Chappus . This couple are fellow Canadians and they are great at getting deep into interviews with amazing guests. They present a wide variety of options for eating, so beware, you need to go into it with an open mind and don’t chase every fad down the rabbit hole. They invite guests that provide you with a variety of options and its up to you to choose what makes sense for you and your body.

Learn to cook

Healing your relationship with food, means you need to stare it straight it it’s little foodie face and embrace all that it is. I found that I was able to heal my relationship with food when I began to cook. Really cook. Not just put a meal together. I mean, Nigella Lawson style, apron on, hair tied up, in the kitchen for hours, cook. I learned to use spices, to take pride in what I cooked. But most of all, I learned to cook food for myself and my family with love. This was a game changer and was a very healing process. 

Comparison is the thief of joy

Stop comparing yourself to others. Did you hear me? Did you?! Say it to yourself out loud, “I will stop comparing myself to others.” Truly. Comparison is the thief of joy - it really is. While my days of sustaining myself on cigarettes and coffee are gone, the days of Instagram and the era of comparison has risen it’s horrible head. Comparing yourself to others is the worst, isn’t it? It's awful because you're comparing your insides to someone else's outside. And that's not a fair comparison and it doesn't fill your soul in any way. 

I’m really mindful of this as I scroll down my social media feeds, and in all honesty, I’ve stopped following certain people because it didn’t serve me.

Giving gratitude

I wasn’t part of a family who said grace at meal time, but I understand how important it can be to your outlook on life. “Grace” after all, is transformative in so many ways. My family is spiritual, but not religious and we start each meal with a prayer of gratitude. It goes something like this:

"God/Universe/Spirit, thank you for this meal. We thank the farmers who grew and nurtured this food. This food was made with love and we will cherish this food as we eat it. We remember that it came from the earth, and for that we are grateful."

We change this up a little bit every night and my four year old likes to chime in with other things she is grateful for. Today it was the "whole world". It gives us pause for a moment and allows us to give thanks to the people were responsible for the meal getting to our plates. This practice serves to create a connection of love between ourselves and the food we eat.

My relationship with food will always be a work in progress.  I'm currently on the Whole 30 to try and reset my body, especially my habits around sugar.

Changing my relationship to food has been one of the hardest journeys in my life - one that I am still on. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but when the intention is there, the wheels of change begin to turn. How have you changed your relationship with food over the years?