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Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.

butterfly_eating_nectarA healthy relationship with food is said to be the key to eating without guilt and maintaining a healthy and desired body weight. This is what the nutritionists, weight loss experts and physical trainers tell you. If you have a healthy relationshp with food you can be slim and eat without guilt. This is true, as far as it goes.

Nutritionist, Dinneen Diette of Eat Without Guilt wrote a guest article for mizfitonline about making peace with food in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Ms. Diette is a weight loss coach. In her article she rightly emphasizes the importance of developing a healthy relationship with food.

I disagree with Ms.Diette as her position relates to women with an eating disorder. What she leaves out makes this simple goal of creating a healthy relationhip with food yet another source of guilt and shame when it can’t be reached. In order to have a healthy relationship with food, you need to notice what is unhealthy about that relationship. Plus, you need to build healthy relationships in other realms.  

How you use food

What service are you asking food to perform for you that food was never meant to do? For example, do you ask food to:

  1. Soothe you when you are anxious?
  2. Comfort you when you are sad?
  3. Distract you when you are worried?
  4. Keep you busy when you are bored?
  5. Give you pleasure when you are lonely?
  6. Give you kindness when you are hurt?
  7. Reward you for a task well done?
  8. Keep you company when you are on your own?

Genuine function of food

Food was meant to nourish your body and mind, to keep you alive and healthy, to make your hair shine and your eyes glow. It was meant to keep your energy up and help you sleep well at night.

Food is meant to strengthen your muscles, keep your endocrine system functioning, and allow your hormones to fluctuate regularly like the tides of the sea.

Food keeps your bones strong and feeds your brain cells so your mind and your organs perform well and respond in the moment to the changing needs of that moment.

Anything else we ask of food not only creates an unhealthy relationship with food but removes us from getting what we realistically need elsewhere.

Relationships in your life

If you have an unhealthy relationship with food, what’s going on in the other relationships in your life? If you take the emotional burden off food and develop healthy relationships elsewhere to fulfill your genuine human needs, you enrich your life and release food from impossible demands.

I agree completely that once we have a healthy relationship with food we can eat well and keep to our desired body weight. We can do this because we are eating for nourishment based on our response to healthy and normal body signals of hunger and nourishment requirements.

(Oranges always glow like magical suns and look especially delicious and irresistible to me when I am just about to come down with a cold. My body is communicating, and I'm getting the message: get some vitamin C and some bioflavonoids into the system now!)

lthy relationships and guilt free eating

But…. in order to create a healthy relationship with food and develop guilt free eating, you need to create, develop and maintain healthy relationships with people, with animals, with nature, with your gifts and talents, with your heart and soul, with life and the challenges around you.

When you live your life in healthy relationship with your body, your food, the people in your life and the activities and values you believe in, you can eat what you genuinely need. Then food becomes food. Then you are free from your eating disorder.

Then you can be slim and eat without guilt.  What do you think?

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