Women, do you have an unhealthy relationship with food?
Nipa Asharam

Nipa Asharam
06 March 2020

This article is authored by Nipa Asharam. Nipa is a full-time practising life coach and wellness coach under the brand 'Eat.Breathe.Smile'.

Unhealthy Food

When we have unhealthy relationship with a partner or a set of friends, we reach out and discuss it with a close one because the relationship makes us feel uncomfortable and in pain. We understand that it could be toxic and negative energy in our life. However, we do not put the same emphasis on our unhealthy relationship with food (if we have one). We’d rather be in denial or shove it under a table because we do not understand the intensity of it

Unhealthy relationship with food is a sign of unhealthy relationship with self. Sometimes we are not even aware if we have one! This especially affects women as we are constantly struggling to manage our food habits. Each time, we neglect food to try to fit into that perfect dress or skip a meal because of an important meeting, we might be developing a negative relationship with food and ourselves.

Here are some signs for us to check if we have an unhealthy relationship with food and if so, get immediate help and solutions.

Have very rigid rules around food: Some might see this as taking care of themselves but there is a point when the line is crossed. Some examples are.

  • Food I can eat versus food that are ‘forbidden’ (now this is a strong word)
  • Only time of the day I can eat (strictly)
  • If I eat more than this, it is lethal and it can drive me crazy

We often miss the sign when we are doing this because we see this as being ‘good’ with ourselves and others who are lenient about it being ‘not good’ with themselves. These rules are have become such a huge part of our life that if we break them, it can impact us a lot emotionally and mentally. So, this is definitely a sign of unhealthy relationship with food.

Develop self-discipline: Self-discipline is the key to achieve any goal in your life! If you are able to discipline yourself you can quite easily manage obesity and its related medical conditions. However, only a few cases of obesity are genetic and largely obesity is due to a faulty lifestyle, thus, with a little self-disciple and self-motivation, a world of change can be brought about in our lives! What self-discipline includes is a determined and a focused approach towards bringing a positive change in your lifestyle and thought process. Try to put some focused efforts in reviving your sedentary lifestyle and monotonous social life and just see the change it can bring to your whole life.

Guilt around food: I have seen two kinds of cases here. There are those who worked a lot to lose the extra weight and now even 100 calories extra can lead strong guilt. It can make them shame themselves or do extreme things like crash dieting next day. The other kind of case is someone who is trying to work on his or her emotional eating patterns or weight loss journey and feels strong feeling such as hatred towards themselves when they overeat! This guilt is so self-sabotaging because it creates an unhealthy relationship with how we perceive ourselves. This is another sign.

Stress and food: This goes back to our childhood, where to pacify us from an emotional moment, our parents gave us food to feel better. We saw food as a way to overcome stressful feelings and even to some extent deserving – if I am going through something, I am allowed to eat excessively to feel better. This became our vicious cycle. Observation of stressful times can make this really clear. Some people also do it as a form of celebration where they think they deserve to eat 3-4 desserts because they did well. This again comes from our childhood. Both of these signs can be observed as unhealthy relationship with food.

Deprivation diet: Crash dieting programs to lose weight in a short period of time or creating cheat days at the end of week because we do not like the food we need to eat on a day to day basis, can unknowingly create an unhealthy relationship with food. We begin to have a scarcity mindset with food as if we won’t ever get the food we love again and that makes us literally live from one cheat day to another. If this is what one feels, chances are they have an unhealthy relationship with food.

Constantly thinking of food and calories: If we are spending more than required time planning what we eat next or thinking about food all the time during meetings and even when we go out with friends or if our mind is overdrive on each and every calorie we consumed, then it is a problem. We are consumed by the thoughts of food all the time. We aren’t present in the moment with any other activity. This is another sign of an unhealthy relationship with food.

Hiding food : Eating perfectly normally when there are people around and then hiding food so that people do not notice that we had a whole donut or a samosa. We judge ourselves with the food items we enjoy, so we think others will as well. Hiding will ensure that our unhealthy relationship with food will be a private relationship that nobody knows about. In fact, nobody should associate us with that habit ever. This is another telling sign. .

Unhealthy relationships of any form can be self-sabotaging and food can also be one of them, which we often don’t see clearly. If you have any of these signs, then do not ignore and seek a professional help from coach or nutritionist if it is overwhelming to work on it alone. It is not only fully reversible but can change all the relationships of your life because food is connected to everything. Having a healthy relationship with food is a strong bond with self, it pays to be mindful of it.


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