Resetting My Relationship with Food

Food.

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It’s a four-letter “F-Word” that, no matter who you are — whether you’re an athlete, a college student, Dwight Schrute from The Office, a single yuppie, or recovering from an eating disorder — we all have a relationship with it.

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Yep. You, reading this. Me, typing this in yesterday’s yoga pants at 4pm in the afternoon — like it or not, we all have a relationship with the fuel that literally keeps us alive.

Granted, some healthier than others.

But I may argue, that aside from God and family, one’s relationship with food is one of the most important relationships to get right in your life.

This is one of the questions that I get asked the most. “How can I improve my relationship with food?

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And spoiler alert, this question is not only coming from precious young girls in the throes of an eating disorder. Nope. It’s from literally all types of peopleMen, women, young, more mature – we’re all working through some sort of “food issue.”

And, as you will soon see, I have literally had just about every possible relationship one can have with it. But I’ve finally found peace and partnership with food, and so I feel like I have just a smidge of, if not authority, than at least ample experience, to back me up.

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I think we all underestimate the deep seeded emotional bond we have with food.

I mean, heck my life is one giant, living, breathing example of that.

Let me, in simply 30 seconds, catch you up.

Growing up as an athlete, food was always fuel. Buttered noodles before soccer training, that was always my jam. During my ulcerative colitis flares, food meant pain. Every bite, not only was like knives in the stomach, but resulted in excruciating, blood-filled episodes…elsewhere. Thus, leading to my anorexia, where I was terrified of food, yet obsessed with it, salivating over countless hours of the food network, as I wasted away. Eventually spiraling into the rigid rules and anxiety and panic and paralyzing fear of a severe, life threatening eating disorder that, at 78 pounds, nearly cost me my life.

Once in recovery, my relationship with food ran the gamut. (I mean, hello, I even went to culinary school for a year!) As you can imagine, after being so severely malnourished and restrictive, the pendulum definitely swung the “other way” in my initial months of recovery, with binge eating episodes that caused more shame than you would ever know. Eating until it physically hurt, and then waking up, hating myself, and not wanting to eat for the next 24 hours. That was a viscious cycle to break.

In recovery, I also went through a period of extreme exercise addiction, coupled with another distorted relationship with food, eating only one huge meal per day.

And it was only my last Ulcerative Colitis flare 7 years ago, that finally allowed me to get a healthy, and positive relationship with food. I adopted the therapeutic Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which healed my disease, and kicked me out of a debilitating flare that had me on bed rest for 11 months.

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And I have remained in remission, thanks to this healing way of life.

So now, today – as a healthy, thriving young woman who eats three full meals a day, with snacks, and without fear or anxiety — I finally (praise God) have a positive relationship with the fuel that keeps me alive and healthy.

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So here are my takeaways.

As I mentioned – our relationship with food is deep seeded. So much so that we probably aren’t even aware of it. For starters, how we were raised plays a huge role. Those habits we learn as kids become ingrained in our psyches. – So whether you were encouraged to be part of the “Clean Plate Club,” or were rewarded with sweets, or incentivized by an extra this or that, those habits become a part of our make up, both good, and bad.

And if we are going to reset our relationship with food, we have to first understand what our personal relationship actually is.

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And that takes work, but is the key to success.

So really examine – even write it down if you have to — for a week — every time you put something into your mouth — what emotion are you feeling? (I’ve created a worksheet below to print off)

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Are you bored? Sad? Angry? Stressed?

And I promise, you’ll start to see patterns. Maybe every time you were stressed you reached for something salty/crunchy like chips. Or you had ice cream when you were feeling lonely or sad. You get the idea.

You’ll notice things.

And then here’s where the magic happens.

Once you realize what those “trigger emotions” are that cause you to binge, or restrict, or make unhealthy choices in your life — find non-food ways to replace them.

This has worked wonders for me.

If I’m lonely – I’ll call a friend — actually call, or FaceTime.
If I’m bored or feeling restless, I’ll get some fresh air. Take a short walk.
If I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I’ll make a game plan and prioritize my “to do” list to make life more manageable.
If I am feeling sad, I’ll do something nice for other people.
If I’m looking for comfort, I’ll go get a 10 minute, $7 chair message at my local nail salon.

Food has become a source of nourishment, instead of a source of comfort or entertainment in my life. No emotions attached.

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But here’s the thing: yes, all those strategies are well and good. And yes, they are great tools that truly help.

But…none of it will be successful without the biggest factor of all: God.

I got to the point where I literally had to hand it over to God and say, Look — I can’t do this alone. I need You. Help me

So many times, those things that we’re feeling out of control of — be it food, be it alcohol, be it online shopping, or gambling, or pornography, or promiscuous choices — they’re all simply an attempt to fill a hole in our lives that only God can fill.

Every morning, I have to wake up and purposefully and intentionally spend time with Him. I have to seek Him, seek His love and seek His help. And doing that makes literally all the difference.

And I’ve recently started documenting this in my Oh What a Beautiful Morning! video series that I’m sharing in my newsletter.

He gives me strength. He gives me clarity. And He gives me wisdom to be able to recognize what emotions I’m feeling that may make me want to make poor decisions.

There is such freedom when life is no longer ruled by food. So much joy when we can see food as the resource it is, and keep it in its proper place in our lives.

Because it will never love us back. It will never solve our problems or alleviate our anxiety or need for control.

Only the Father can do those things. And take it from the gal who’s been all over the culinary map. Food is just a fuel.

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I love getting questions from you all! And in an upcoming blog post, I though it could be fun to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) as a way to celebrate all 40,000 of you! We’re almost there and I couldn’t be more excited and grateful about it! So thank you to everyone who’s passing on my blog or tagging me on Instagram posts, and getting the word out about our little community 🙂

So yeah, send in your questions! 🙂

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107 thoughts on “Resetting My Relationship with Food

  1. I have such a bad relationship with food. I LOVE food. I was a “foodie” before they coined the word. As a 51 year old man I really need to start making changes with my lifestyle especially when it comes to food. I don’t want to be like “Fat Bastard” from Austin Powers so I better do something now…especially since I’m in the downhill stretch lol. Thanks for the advice and information. May God continue to bless you and all that you do for His Kingdom!

    1. Thank you John, I definitely will join you as a foodie! I hear ya. Food is definitely something that God created to delight us! Moderation is a beautiful thing 🙂 so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  2. A profound insight into something that is so basic, we do not even think about it. There must be something more about eating… after all, the first sin of man was all about eating… and Jesus, when He came to save us, gave Himself as food…

    1. Hi Fr. Dominic, thank you so much for your kind words. That’s so true! Adam ate the apple and Jesus the Bread of Life! Wow!!! what a fascinating perspective. Thank you so much for sharing that insight! hope you have a beautiful night!

  3. Food — glorious food. Is that a proper relationship with this life extending, super delicious, fat-creating and glutinous object of our adoration?

    Yes and no!! Can it be used by God in our lives? Can we use it to glorify God? Can it become our addiction? Can we ask God for help as we consume the bounties of our earth? Will He help us control our appetites?

    These all are very important concerns. How we deal with the 7 deadly sins of consumption can affect our relationships within the body of Christ. What do you think the seven deadly sins of consumption are?

    Thanks for the food for thought – calorie and fat free!!

    1. Hey Richard! Thanks for this thoughtful response! so much wisdom here – you’re right – God definitely created food to delight us! I mean, all the flavors are signs of His love for us! But you’re right, He also gave us self control 🙂 big hugs to you xox

    1. Thank you Marcelo! God has definitely been so good to me and gotten me through some difficult seasons! Hugs and love xox

      1. No it’s great you are that you are honest. I’m one of those people with very little filter. WP is the only place I watch what I say. So it’s all good!

  4. Three generations of cooks in my family. Worked as short order cook for two summers when in university, Love food and get very emotional about it. My beloved wife also loved food.
    Both Pat and I went to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Library Science in 1968/69. On Fridays, some of us went pub crawling as soon as they opened at noon. We called it POETS Corner. Yes, you guessed it: it’s an acronym for Piss On Everything, Tomorrow’s Saturday. On Friday, November 15, 1968, Pat was a fellow student’s date at the Red Lion. I was attracted to her and sat beside her. When Steven Horne left her alone to talk to some of his buddies, I was there and since it was by now late afternoon, I asked her to supper. She said yes. She went home to Rochdale to change and I picked her up there. Rochdale had just opened and there were a lot of graduate students there, so you can’t assume that Pat was a hippy. (But we were kind of hippies – long hair and all.) We went to Hungarian Village on Bay Street.
    We had the Transylvanian wood platter for two. That is, three salads, rice, fried potatoes, beef tenderloin, Hungarian sausage, bacon, grilled pork chop, Wienerschnitzel, cabbage rolls, and pickled beets, all accompanied by a full bottle of the Hungarian wine known as “Bull’s Blood”. Between us (though mostly Pat), we polished it all off. Then we had apple strudel and two each apricot brandies (remember, we started the date drinking beer all afternoon!). After Hungarian Village, we went to hear Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry at the Riverboat in Yorkville where we also had pastries and coffees. The date was not over yet, though it was past midnight. We went to Plaka, a Greek nightclub on Queen Street where we listened to Basuki players from Athens and threw dishes. There, we had two Zombies and a sharing tray of Greek cheese. I was thinking, boy, can this small girl ever eat and drink. I’m a foodie and was truly impressed. So impressed I asked her to marry me there and then. She said no. It took two more asks before she said yes two months later. We married June 21, 1969.

    1. Hi friend! Oh wow, what a fun story! That sounds like such a fun Friday!!! That is impressive! 🙂 thank you for sharing that 🙂 Food is definitely a connecting point for sure. big hugs to you xox

    1. Thank you so much friend. Yeah, I’ve definitely come a long way! thanks for taking the time to read! Hugs and love xox

  5. This is very insightful! Your testimony, the story of how you navigated this with the Lord, is so beneficial for us all! I’m sad of what you went through, but so grateful for your ability to pass on what you have learned to so many of us! You’re absolutely right! I am always very curious and amazed that eating the fruit got us in this fallen world and Esau also gave up his birthright for a bowl of beans…having struggled with my relationship with food my entire life in many different ways, it’s something the Lord and I have had frequent talks about! Lol! I think we are making progress right now! I will continue the application of somethings you mentioned as far as recognizing and replacing!!

    Blessings to you!! Keep shining His light!!

    Peach

    1. Hey Peach, thank you so much fro your kind words. Amen – God has definitely gotten me through so many difficult seasons and for that I am so grateful. I will definitely be praying for you! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  6. My dear friend

    The relationship with food is really important and has strong effects as well:

    Quantity of food:
    Often we make the mistake when food is tasting very well, we hardly can stop eating and eat so much that in the end we have overfilled stomach which does not give us a good feeling. Best is according to my Master: One third is air, one third is food and one third is water – in this way the machinery of our digestion will work nicely without giving us bad dreams as a result of too much eating, or feelings lazy after eating. Eating to less is also not good – the golden middle way is best.

    How to eat:
    Lets eat slowly and conscously – the more we chew and crush our food properly for the following digestion, the better it is.

    Atmosphere of food:
    Our atmosphere when eating should be pure, no tv while eating, or reading a book or newspaper – when eating in the sweet remembrance of the Lord, also our soul is getting some food as well (vise versa: when watching tv while eating our thoughts sink in our mind and have not so good effects) – this time we should use in silence to give attention to God and our food will become food for our soul. So it is better when we do not talk during this time (which is a bad habit for most of us) – in this way our mind and thoughts become more controllable and do not lead us astray here and there – we create an atmosphere in which we are able to wash away all those bubbles coming up from the mind. So the relationship with our food is of utmost importance: what we eat, how we eat, where we eat, under which atmosphere we eat – when eating in such a righ way we pave the way for positivity in our mind, provide a deeper realtionship with God, with people and with ourselves too.

    Thank you very much, my dear friend
    From heart to heart
    Didi

    1. Hi Didi! thank you so much for this thoughtful response. Lots of wisdom here – you’re so right! We need to slow down and be intentional with our meal times! Family dinners are so important – let’s bring them back! Heart to heart for sure! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thanks so much! Yes! I think everyone has some area of their relationship with it that they’d like to improve. Hugs and love xox

  7. My theory on calories and managing weight: I noticed that liquid nitrogen is something that is so cold that it can actually burn you! Doctors use it to burn out warts, for example. So, if something can be so far one way so as to have the exact opposite effect – so cold it’ll burn you – I say that it is theoretically possible to eat so many calories that they’ll actually go negative and cause you to lose weight.

    Now…I haven’t reached critical mass yet, but I think I had a minor breakthrough! I ate like a pig, including desserts – make that ESPECIALLY desserts – at my daughter’s wedding Sunday evening. I was also going with my other theory that calories are sentient and have the good sense to leave you alone at momentous celebrations like weddings, births, and seeing someone you don’t like drop their groceries. I weighed myself this morning to get the bad news and I’M 3 POUNDS LIGHTER THAN WHEN I LEFT ON FRIDAY!

    Obviously, I’m on to something…

    1. Oh wow! Haha isn’t that something! I think you’re onto something there, Jeff! Hope the wedding was absolutely wonderful! Congratulations!!!! Hugs and love xox

  8. Great post, and very true! Let me tell you, as a Greek, food factors into EVERYTHING. Many of us are chubby as kids because food is seen as love, and then have to reset this relationship as we grow up. I’m still having to play “tricks” so relatives here and in the old country don’t keep filling my plate (or my glass . . .)

    It’s amazing how food is so much more than fuel. Your strategies are great, and I try to incorporate things like this when I also feel like mindless snacking (with varying degrees of success). Writing down things is key—tying food to emotions is a brilliant idea.

    And God . . . yeah, we need to be asking His help for everything, food included.

    1. Thank you Alex! Yeah food is a huge part of culture. You’re right – for everything:) thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  9. Your blog has been a perfect resource for me lately. I have an adult friend who’s struggling with an eating disorder and I just keep sending your posts to her, hoping – praying – she’s reading it. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much for passing them along. I will definitely keep your friend in my prayers 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  10. You’re amazing and so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and God’s way of healing you in this struggle with food. Definitely something I needed to read. God bless!

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you so much friend! so glad this resonated with you 🙂 big big hugs xo

  11. So much great advice here! I have been through the food addiction to the extreme exercise addiction. I am at the point in life now where food or sugary drinks are my “go to” when I am stressed. Thank you for helping us all balance out and make the healthy choices God intended for us to make.

    1. Thanks so much Matthew. You’re so right about that: God really does intend for us to have freedom in this area! So glad you stopped by 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  12. Food. . .it really is the forgotten relationship. Thank you for writing this,this is some much needed inspiration for myself. I definitely do not have a relationship of nourishment with food,it is more an entertainment or a must relationship. I am going to use your worksheet. . .I think it might really help.
    Thank you for sharing your journey. I bet it muat have been so hard goimg from this healthy realtionship, using food as fuel, to developing Ulcerative Colitis and having that relationship be affected so drastically.
    I am happy you were able to redevelop that relationship though! You are an inspiration. You’re so right food is so important, it affects both our mental and physical health so much. Maybe it is time for me to ask God to help me. . .maybe it is time for me to help myself. Thank you again for sharing the worksheet/information, and your insights!
    -Angela

    1. It really is! Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Angela. Yes! The amazing thing about the way God helps us that He empowers us to change and do the work 🙂 sending you so much love and hugs xox

  13. Oh this was sooooo much what I needed to read this morning. I am so thankful for your journey and your words and the bravery that comes with them.

  14. Hi. Thank you for this article. I was wondering about if you could write an article about this, actually, last week. Because I wondered if I was the only one whose transition from anorexia to healthy eating has been a tough one. Thank you for this article again!
    However, I disagree with the statement “food is just fuel.” If food was just fuel, God wouldn’t have made it delicious. It is also a way to give pleasure and bring people together. I know you know this, because I can see you put effort into making your meals tasty and beautiful.
    Lastly, I don’t know if you heard of The Catholic Table? But Emily Simpson Chapman also does a great job of addressing the question of what is ordered eating. Have a good day!!

    1. Thanks so much Anna. That’s a great point! He made it so yummy because He wants to delight us! That’s so true! He also gave us self control, and the ability to keep it in its proper place 🙂 ooh I’ll have to look Emily up! Thanks so much for passing that along! Thanks for your wonderful thoughts and insight on this! Big hugs to you xox

  15. It’s all too easy to go on autopilot while eating. Thanks for the reminder to think about what we’re doing. I’m glad you’re in remission from ulcerative colitis! I learned a little about it from Hannah Witton’s YouTube videos, since sometimes mentions how it affects her, and it sounds very difficult.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this! Yeah it definitely is life altering for sure. It’s crazy, when I have a conversation with someone about the reality of UC, they’re so taken aback. It really needs more awareness. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  16. Appropriate foods for the body, adequate sleep and healthy exercise makes it possible to deal with the pressure of modern life. However without peace of mind even these necessary things can make life a trial. And peace of mind can only come when we have a relationship with God.

  17. I always seem to come to your page when I am hungry. I need to work out my relationship with food now!! I did not try that squash item because when I went to the store they did not have squash yet. and when I did find squash later I went for spaghetti I made out of it! It was yummy. I think I see brussel sprouts towards the top of the page. Think I will settle on that now! mmmm Yummah!

    1. Thank you so much Michelle! Haha ooh Brussels sprouts are my favorite. The good thing about the food is that there’s always tomorrow to eat something new! Haha Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh gosh thank you friend for sharing your story. I will keep your family in my prayers. I hope this helps! Hugs and love xox

    1. Hey again friend! You’re on a reading roll! So glad this resonated with you 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Hey Tammy! Thank you so much 🙂 I’m so glad you’re finding success!! Hugs and love xox

  18. I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for giving such great perspective and sharing your story. I have grown up an an athlete and in the gym, but I too have struggled with an eating disorder for the majority of my life. I feel very alone because no-one seems to be able to not only understand, but relate to what I am feeling. Hearing your story and reading your page gives me hope. Thank you, and I would definitely like to order some tooth paste. 🙂

    1. Hey Keisa! oh gosh, thank you so much for sharing your story. You are definitely not alone. I, for one, am in your corner and cheering for you in your recovery 🙂 You’ve got this, love! And awesome! I’ll send you an email about the toothpaste! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

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