12 signs that your relationship with food is unhealthy

Are you in an abusive relationship with food? Hard as it may be to understand, it is possible to be in an abusive relationship with food.

Every healthy relationship should be balanced and happy. There should be no shame, fear, anxiety guilt and cover up. When you are in an unhealthy relationship, instead of rejoicing when the person is coming back, you are filled with fear and anxiety. You miss them when they are away but when they come back, you are anxious. You are ashamed of the relationship and still you defend it.  A bad relationship with food is just as bad. Some people even try to make fun of it to cover up the shame.

You hear and see things like “eat what you want, and if someone tries to lecture you on your weight eat them too”. Making fun of a problem will not make it go away. Finding the solution is the best option. In finding that solution, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions.

  • Why do you eat as if compelled, then use the next 1 hour to feel ashamed and guilty?
  • What is driving that compulsion that leaves you unsatisfied and tearful? For some it is a particular food, for some, it is everything.
  • How do you see food? Is it as something that nourishes your body or as an enemy that has to be controlled?
  • When thoughts of food come to your mind does it bring peace or do you feel anxious and embarrassed? Do you know when the relationship is spiraling out of control?

What is your relationship with food?  Below are signs you should look out for to show you if your relationship with food is unhealthy and what you should do if it is unhealthy.

  • Uncontrolled thought about food

woman-thinking-about-food1

I have been training Felicia for 3 months. The first thing I noticed about her on our first meeting was that all her question were about food. In the gym while working out, the only thing she asks me about is what she will eat and what quantity. This is not in itself a bad question. But with Rachel it was. She was obsessed with food. All her questions about nutrition eventually led to her food. Is there a way to make it tastier not healthier? Eventually, she will jump down from the bike as if one moment more without the food was torture and rush out to prepare the food. In her case, she has access to food and the money to spend on good and healthy food but her mind is continually occupied by this particular food – rice. Eventually she will go home and eat it till she cannot take one more spoon. She will call me very upset with how much she has eaten. The next day she will appear sheepishly, guilty and ashamed of her lack of control.

Uncontrolled thought about food is one of the signs of a bad relationship with food. It is okay to think about food but when it continually and consistently fills your mind to the exclusion of anything else, it becomes a cause for concern. If you do not have access to food and the money to spend on it, you may agonize over where your next meal will come from, but if that is not the case then it is an obsession and unhealthy.

  • You hide your food

Do you hide what you are eating under the chair or bed when you hear footsteps of friends and family? Why do you do that? Is it because you do not want to share or because you are ashamed of what you are eating and do not want them to know what you are eating? Some even have a secret place where they keep their stash so they can enjoy it when no one will see them.  However, if you are hiding your food because it is poorly cooked and you are ashamed people will laugh at your cooking skill, or the lack of quality ingredients in the food, that is different.

  • Compulsion to eat

Even when you finish a fulfilling meal, you will still have a compulsion to eat that brings you on your knees if you resist. You go to the kitchen once every couple of minutes to cruise the pots and fridge. Anything available goes into your mouth. As long as the food is there, you will have a compulsion to eat it.

  • Craving for certain foods after a filling meal

For some it may be rice, bread, fizzy drink, cake, yogurt and others. It does not matter what you eat or how filling the food is, the craving will come for that particular food and when it comes, it leaves you desperate. You may not be hungry but you still want a piece of that food even when you are bloated and beached on a chair like a whale.

You can go to any extent to get the food. Even if it means driving for 20 minutes to the place  to buy it and at an inconvenient time. You will do it. No sacrifice is too much for your food.

  • 1 bite is not enough

Your intention is to eat just one slice of bread but you end up eating everything, one piece at a time till you take the whole thing and polish it off.

  • Guilt after eating certain foods but eat them again

There are certain foods you know is not good for you, and you really try to stay off it for some time. Then, you go on an explosive binge that leaves you nauseous, guilty and wondering “what was the point of staying off this in the first place?”

  • Always on a diet or looking out for new ones.

Are you in 10 different diet groups on the internet and on the lookout for the latest diet? People in an unhealthy relationship with food want to diet, diet and diet. They diligently search for the latest fad diet and embrace it with passion until the next one comes along. If they are not cutting out carbs, they are cutting out fat. Then its fruit alone or water. There is always something to cut off.

  • Punishment

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Do you climb on the treadmill with the sole aim of out running the food you ate? If yes, you are punishing yourself. You eat junk and are filled with self – loathing and you punish yourself until you feel you have burned all the calories you consumed. Some go to the extent of calculating the calories then ask me how many minutes and what workout and how intense will the workout be to burn the calories? Do you punish yourself by starving yourself of 1 or 2 meals to make up for eating?

  • Addiction to detox and cleanse

Do you live a life of excess, cleanse and detox? You eat all sorts of junk then live a life of cleanse and detox to rid your system of the ill effects of your junk marathon. Ada is one of the people I know that have embraced the world of detox. She eats junk Monday to Friday and on Saturday, she opens one ‘detox’ sachet after another and drinks them. She will have a big bout of unhappy bowel and convince herself that she is clean again. The next week, she will do the same. She recently discovered that she cannot move her bowel unless she takes about 5 sachets at once. She is not planning to let go of her “junk and detox” lifestyle even when her digestive system is packing up.

  • You convince yourself to eat what you know you should not

Do you give yourself totally unreasonable excuse for you to eat a particular food that is bad for you and why now is the best time for the act? You know that cake is not good for you because it sends you on a carb binge. But your mind keeps giving you reasons why you should eat it. “Just one tiny slice.  Oh come on, it won’t kill you” At first you resist the suggestion but gradually you accept it and own the reason. You even take the reason to indulge to another level. “It does not matter, I will detox on Saturday”

  • Emotional eating

alcohol-stress

When a child cries, the first thing we think about is that the child is hungry, so we give him food. Later on in life when they act up, we give them candy. When upset, when happy, when sad we use food to comfort people. When pregnant you are asked to eat for two. Some cultures prepare women for marriage by overfeeding them as if the bride is preparing for famine and war. When your relationship breaks up, you get drunk.You grow up with the thoughts that food will solve your problem. It does not, it triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, which will only make you seek out the pleasure again.

  • Inability to stop in spite of health condition

Even when your physician warns you that your favorite food is gradually destroying your health, you are still unable to cut it out. When others intervene you antagonize and hide it from them and indulge. Research has shown that unhealthy food, excessive sugar and junk intake are detrimental to good health. If you are experiencing health problems and you know that it is caused by your consumption of this foods, and yet you are unable to stop, you should seek help.

If you are experiencing any of these signs and you honestly want to stop but cannot and know that it is a problem for you, then it is time to let go of all pretense and seek for help.

As a personal fitness trainer and nutrition coach, I love informing clients about proper nutrition and the need for balance.

What are the foods you have a love/hate relationship with? When do YOU eat them, how did YOU feel at the time and how did YOU feel afterwards?

Food should not control you life. You are worth more than that bag of chocolate that is sending your blood sugar up. You are beautiful, strong and capable of taking control of your life. Nutrition coaching can help you understand why you eat and how to get control back.

Learn to love yourself. What you love, you care for and protect. You would not treat a $5,000 pair of shoes with reckless abandon. You will clean, repackage it in its original pack  after each use and look for and buy the best products to care for it. You will ask friends with such shoes how they have managed and make contact with people who can take care of such shoes.  And then diligently do your part to care of those shoes. You are worth more than the most expensive shoe. Go to your closet, bring out the most expensive and most loved item you have there. How do you care for it?

Do more than that for the body that will wear those clothes. You are worth it.

For nutrition coaching visit Bellisima fitness gym. Leave your comments and question below.

Author: Nkeoma DND Agu

Nkeoma DND Agu is a certified personal, group, and corporate fitness trainer. She is also a certified fitness and nutrition coach. She has been in the fitness industry for more than 10 years. She holds certification with one of the highest certifying bodies in fitness and wellness in USA, National Exercise and Strength Training Association (NESTA) She is the Director of Bellisima Fitness And Health Studio Ltd. She helps individuals and corporate bodies in Nigeria and all over the world to achieve personal and company fitness and health goals.

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