Four Ways to Break Up with Food

Tips to help keep food and eating from running your life.

Article by Mary Roberts | 10 Jan, 2021

Article originally published on on 8/18/16. It has been heavily edited for re-publication.

Food is for body fuel, not entertainment.

Statements like the above can be very upsetting, especially to those who may have spent a lifetime filling emotional holes with their favorites treats. While it's alright to enjoy your food- and even to get a little indulgent at a holiday or celebration- the problem with viewing food as primarily a fuel for personal fulfillment is that we develop and hold on to an unhealthy relationship with eating.

Dispelling those attitudes can be a long and, frankly, rough process. We don't just turn around a lifelong obsession overnight. If you need help changing your relationship with food, here are some things you can do to break those emotional ties.

Keep It Simple

Eat whole foods with minimal preparation, and skip the elaborate recipes and convenience food. Stick to basics like bacon and eggs, steak and avocado with butter, bunless burgers, or steak salads with full fat dressing. Remember that while you may love cooking and feel like you thrive on complicated recipes, but that may not be the best thing for your body or your mental state. Keeping your meals simple can teach you to appreciate real foods the way they taste naturally, and stop you from craving those complex (and carbier) dishes.

Ditch the Clock

Society loves to dictate when we eat, and we often feel pressured to dine by the clock instead of when we are actually hungry. Unfortunately, that's not always what your body needs, and it doesn't tend to reward us the way we'd like when we ignore what its telling us. The most important meals are the ones for which you are truly hungry. It's OK to skip a meal, or move it to a later time, if you're not hungry when you're "supposed to be." Following your body's signals is one of the most important things you can do to heal both physically and mentally.

Don't Spend Time Looking for Exciting New Recipes

While many people are afraid of getting "bored" with their meals, boredom with your food can be a good thing. It may seem counterintuitive, but ignoring the call for something new and exciting can be the start of ending obsession. Let's be real: the more time you spend staring at mouthwatering photos from pro chefs, the more you're thinking about food and eating, the more you're letting food run your life. Cutting back on the amount of time we spend dreaming or fantasizing about a meal is a huge step on the way to recovery.

Use Language to Retrain Your Brain

The way we speak often habitualizes us into thinking or feeling certain ways. If the language you use in reference to food is always focused on decadence in taste, you're going to start thinking and behaving as if you must have a major mouth party or else your meal was a failure and a disappointment. When you talk about eating something as a reward, you will start feeling punished if you're not eating. Etc, and so on.

Choosing our words carefully can help us train our brain to view food for what it really is: fuel for our bodies. It is what we need to keep going everyday and not die and wither away.

It is not a reward for jobs well done. It is not entertainment because we are bored. It is not comfort for when we feel down. Food does not fix problems we have with our car, our family, our friends or our job. Eating because of stress, anger, frustration and so on, is not the purpose of food. The purpose of food is to give us energy, to keep us alive.

We are not saying you should not enjoy what you eat. We don't expect anyone to eat something of which they don't enjoy the taste. At the same time, we do need to be aware that food's primary purpose is to nourish us. It certainly isn't supposed to be our boss! Correcting any disordered tendencies towards food and eating will go a long way to helping us not only gain ketogenic success, but maintain it for life!

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