Unhealthy Relationship with Food

How to Change an Unhealthy Relationship with Food

June 8, 2020

Do You Have An Unhealthy Relationship With Food?

  • Do you see food as the answer to your every problem?
  • Do you feel that eating will ease your heartaches and pain?
  • Are you constantly using food to cope with difficult situations?
  • Does your day revolve around food and nothing else?
  • Or maybe you just see food as a means to an end?

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a plateful of delicious food. Eating as a way to fill other empty aspects of your life could lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.

What An Unhealthy Relationship With Food Looks Like

This unhealthy relationship is what’s often causing you to eat a lot and to eat the wrong types of food like junk food, high-carb items, and sugary snacks. For example, if you see food as a coping mechanism, it is easy to neglect how much you’re eating or if what you’re eating is bad for you. The tendency is just to keep using food until you forget your troubles.

It is also possible that you see all types of food as the enemy. When this happens, you tend to deprive yourself of everything, including what’s healthy for you. This is common with fad diets. While this might make you lose weight initially, this is not a sustainable way to live healthily and could lead to a crash and burn situation. This is also the reason why many people who go on fad diets suddenly gain back the weight very quickly.

There are many different ways on how you can change your unhealthy relationship with food. Some ways are more effective than others but the results could be different depending on the person doing these things.

Practicing Mindfulness

Before going into detail on what mindful eating is, it is important to explain what mindfulness is. Mindfulness refers to the act of being in the moment and being aware of your surroundings. When you are mindful, you are in the present, in the now – rather than thinking of the past or future. It encourages you to not think about distractions or preoccupations so you can focus on what’s happening in front of you.

When mindfulness is applied to eating, this practice is all about being aware of environmental cues in satisfying your taste for food and its nourishment for the body. It guides you to concentrate on the act of eating so that you can appreciate your food more, which will hopefully lead to moderation and restrain in your eating habits. The opposite is mindless eating wherein you thoughtlessly consume food like eating chips in front of the television or snacking on candy while on the subway. These are common mindless habits that cause you to consume empty calories your body does not need,

How Will Mindful Eating Change Your Relationship With Food?

When you are mindful of what you eat, you are using all of your senses: sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. You get to appreciate what you’re eating so you can make decisions on whether it is good for you or not. Food will be a friend that will help you towards your goal. It will not be an enemy that will sabotage you.

When you are mindful, you will become more conscious of the types of food you will choose for yourself. You will avoid mindlessly munching on unhealthy snacks that you don’t even like. You will avoid getting an unhealthy burger just because it is cheap or convenient. And hopefully, it could prevent you from eating pints of ice cream just because you’re heartbroken.

How to Practice Mindful Eating

There are different ways to practice mindful eating. Here are some straightforward tips that could help you adopt this helpful habit.


When you feel hungry or your craving food, don’t act on impulse. Are you really hungry? Maybe you are just thirsty so try to have a glass of water first. Think back to when you had your last meal so you know whether it is really time to eat or whether you’re just having an unreasonable craving. If you’re having a craving, distract yourself by doing another activity and wait for the craving to pass. It’s advisable to keep your mind off the craving instead of focusing on it. 

When it’s time for your meal, qualify your food choices. Don’t order or eat anything blindly. Ask questions such as:

  • Is this healthy for me?
  • Is this tasty and delicious?
  • Will I enjoy this meal?

Keep in mind that just because you’re choosing to eat healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat bland, tasteless food.


However busy or hectic your schedule is, it’s important to take some time off to dedicate to your meal. When you eat while you drive or when you are on the go, it is easier to lose track of what you’re eating. This could also cause you to make unhealthy choices. When you sit down and focus on your meal, it is easier to see how much you’re eating and make healthier choices.


When you’re eating, don’t just put one spoonful of food after another into your mouth. When taking a bite:

  • Appreciate how the food looks
  •  Smell its aromas
  •  Be conscious of how it feels in your mouth
  • Listen to how it sounds when you chew.
  • Chew slowly and delight in every taste.

The common reason for doing this is because it will prevent you from overeating so you can stop when you already feel full. However, another hidden benefit is you get to enjoy your food more. You get to really appreciate different flavors and textures of food. Hopefully, this will cause you to look for appetizing healthy meals, instead of fast-food burgers and fries.


You’ve always been thought to finish your food as a kid… after all many people are going hungry all around the world. However, it doesn’t mean that you should clean out your plate every single meal. If you are already full...STOP. Don’t be guilty of stopping. It’s okay. Your body is not a storage container you have to fill up. You can always pack your leftovers and save it for another meal.

It’s not always easy to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle but practicing these mindful eating strategies could help you to develop a healthier relationship with food.

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Sameera Khan


Sameera Khan, RD, PA-C, is an obesity expert dietitian and nutritionist, best-selling author, and podcaster. She is the owner of Lowkcalgal LLC, a long-term weight loss concept that actually works where others have failed. She has spent two decades working with clients and their families helping them lose weight together. She is the author of the bestselling book, “Regain Be Gone” - that has 12 strategies on regaining your life back after bariatric surgery.