Breaking Up with your Toxic Diet
What’s this have to do with Mental Health?
In therapy, we often discuss parts of our lives that are considered undesirable, unserving, or detrimental. Through this process, we work towards finding strength in our ability to separate from the things that are harmful- marriages, jobs, negative belief systems, whatever!
But what about breaking up with our toxic relationship with food or weight?
Now this is not necessarily a problem for all people, but for some eating and even thinking about food is stressful or creates internal conflict. Much like an abusive or toxic dating relationship, the way that we think about food can trigger undesired or difficult feelings or thoughts. At times, our relationship with food and our bodies can mirror an abusive relationship.
There are many reasons why this distorted behavior or thought process exists. Much like substance use, disordered eating or body image is impacted by our social lives, culture, environment, and just about everything else. It can be helpful to recognize and address this potentially harmful relationship in order to work through the symptoms it can cause.
The first step to recognizing whether or not you’re in a toxic relationship with your weight, is to really evaluate the reality of its role in your life. The social and cultural norms that exist in media do not always reflect what is healthy or even possible for most people to obtain. These unrelenting standards can feed into or help create irrational thoughts and beliefs about food and beauty.
Consider these truths and, if it seems helpful, gain some peace from knowing they are true.
There is no such thing as good or bad food. While some food is healthier than others, neither is good or bad. Labeling a food as “bad” gives you the feeling of breaking a rule or doing something wrong when you indulge in it.
“Guilt” is not an ingredient. It is a marketing technique to label certain snacks as “guilt-free” to help people cope with complicated emotions connected to their relationship with food. Your body needs food to live, even sugar and fats. You do not have to feel any guilt for eating.
Feeding your body is part of loving your body. Try exchanging your vocabulary from eating to nourishing. When you eat, you’re giving your body nourishment, care, and energy.
Movement and exercise is not solely for losing weight. Exercise is important for both your physical and mental health. It’s role is not to shrink you, but to make you healthier.
Beauty and attractiveness is vast and expansive. There are so many people, things, places, and ideas that are described as beautiful- waterfalls, babies, sunsets, paintings, songs, the list goes on and on. There’s no way your beauty is only defined by your size or body shape.
Your diet is not just what you eat, but rather what you consume. This includes media, television, books, news, conversations, and everything else. If you’re considering improving your diet, look at all things that you’re consuming.
FInally, when addressing your healthy look at your overall wellness. It is difficult to heal only one part of yourself without evaluating the others. Are you neglecting your self-care in other areas that could help with your confidence? This includes your mental, spiritual, and bodily health.
If after reading this you feel that some of this applies to you, it may be helpful to find someone who can help you in moving forward.
Just remember that in any relationship that is not serving you, you’re 50% of it. You have the power to break up with whatever is toxic in your life and work on forming a healthier relationship.