A Naturopath's Guide to Building a Better Relationship with Food



The relationship we share with food is pretty damn important for health. However, for many individuals, feeling comfortable with food choices is a daily battle, often resulting in a vicious tango of stress and poor self-worth.

A good relationship with food involves allowing yourself to eat the foods that make you feel good, both mentally and physically. There is no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food lists, food is simply just food and utilized to fuel and nourish the body, enjoy and share with loved ones. With this mentality, you have a deep intuition with hunger and fullness signals and there are no strict meal plans or calorie counting.







Signs of a Poor Relationship with Food

  1. You feel guilt or shame with food, or certain foods
  2. You avoid or restrict foods that are ‘bad, unhealthy or unsafe
  3. You have created set rules around foods You ignore your body’s hunger and/or fullness signals
  4. You have a history of yo-yo dieting
  5. Eating in a social situation is stressful for you
  6. You rigidly calorie count and feel stressed when you cannot calorie count a food/meal
  7. You find yourself in a pattern of restricting and/or binge eating
  8. You feel you might ‘lose control’ around food or food temptations
  9. You often compare meals with others, or feel judged by your food choices around others


You don’t have to experience all of the above to confirm you have a poor relationship with food. The main sign is if you feel shame, guilt, stress or fear around food.

It’s important to remember that even with a positive relationship with food, you may occasionally still feel guilt, and this is okay, we’re all human! The goal is to have balance, and the positive experiences with food outweigh the negative.








Steps to Restoring Your Relationship with Food

  1. Allow yourself unconditional permission to eat. Strict rules and restrictions in any circumstance will cause feelings of fear, guilt and shame. Allowing yourself permission to eat can be hard, but one of the first steps in letting go of old habits.
  2. Practice mindful eating. It encourages you to be more present with food by noticing textures, flavours and smells. This helps you slow down, enjoy and appreciate food on a deeper level.
  3. Eat when you’re hungry and trust your body! The body is an intelligent vessel; if you listen and honour natural body cues, your body will thank you for it. Although diet culture has lead us to believe that we need to rely on calorie counting, this is not entirely the case! The body completes thousands of processes every second and will require more or less energy depending. The key is to listen and trust your body’s cue.
  4. Avoid labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Labelling food as ‘bad’ provides it with unnecessary power and attaches feelings of fear. Of course, there are foods that are more nutritious than others however, consuming a single food, whether nutritious or not, will not affect your health in a phenomenal way.
  5. Show yourself kindness; your body is your home. This journey can be difficult, and takes time to rewire old habits and ways of thinking. Knowing that it will be a ‘one step back, two step forwards’ journey and showing yourself kindness, even if you slide back into old habits, is really important. Your body is your one and only true home, so you may as well enjoy the stay.








Resources & Reaching Out


For some, letting go of disordered eating habits is extremely overwhelming, and may seem impossible. Fortunately, there are so many resources and professionals that want to help you on your journey. The Butterfly Foundation is a great place to start. Also reaching out to a psychologist can be extremely beneficial in understanding the drivers for your habits around food (everyone is unique and will have different drivers!).

Butterfly Foundation help-line: 1800 334 673

Butterfly Foundation online chat: https://butterfly.org.au/chattokit/






About the Author         



Laura Ballin is a Clinical Naturopath (BHSc) passionate about empowering individuals to reconnect with their body and return home to their true-self. After battling with an eating disorder and various digestive concerns, Laura has a special interest in the gut, mental health, women’s hormonal health and skin conditions. Laura is available for consultations in South-East Queensland and online.






Website: www.odetoself.com.au


Instagram: @ode.toself


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