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Starting a New Relationship with Food by Sally Rudnick

The New Year is a perfect opportunity to start a new relationship with food but it is best to steer clear of strict resolutions. Although the intention behind resolutions seems like a good idea, most resolutions people make are rigid and unrealistic.

Here are five steps that can help individuals move towards a healthier relationship with their food and their bodies in the new year. These tips allow for flexibility and sensibility, two key aspects towards positive change.

1 Keep Track

Food journals are an excellent way to keep track of what one is eating. Many times people don’t even realize all that goes in to their mouths in a day. By journaling their food intake they can begin to understand not only what they are eating but if they are emotional eating as well.

If individuals write down what they eat and then write down how they are feeling, they can begin to learn when they are eating because they are physically hungry versus when they are eating to relieve stress, anger, sadness or boredom.

The key to productive food journaling is to know it’s not punitive. Food journaling is not about making people feel bad about themselves. It is about helping people understand and change the way they are nourishing themselves.

2 Be Nice

It is important for people to be nice to themselves whenever they try something new, especially when it comes to food. Changing one’s relationship with food is a big step and being compassionate towards oneself is one of the best ways to be really successful. When the negative self-talk lessens or goes away, big changes can happen in the way individuals use food.

It is also helpful to increase support systems and discover new hobbies. When people increase their support networks and their activities, the need to use food to fill the void or cope with difficult feelings lessens.

3 No Scale

Many people feel anxious, or even terrified, when it is suggested that they use their scales less frequently. However, once people recognize the negative impact the numbers on the scale have on them, tiny steps can be made to put the scale away for good.

Doing an emotional, physical and mental check-in each morning instead of turning to the scale will help individuals focus on themselves and their bodies. It will also help people feed themselves based on their physical hunger and not based on what the numbers on the scale say.

4 Advocate

When people are struggling with weight issues, it is simply no fun to go to the doctor and be told again and again that they need to lose weight. Instead, individuals should go into a doctor’s appointment with an agenda and explain that they’ve decided to move towards healthy, mindful eating and want the doctor‘s help in monitoring the positive changes.

It is important to be specific. Let the doctor know which areas to focus on such as lowering cholesterol, eliminating Type II diabetes, monitoring blood pressure etc… That way the individual will be their own advocate right from the start.

5 Seek Help

Finally, if people are beginning to recognize that food is interfering with their lives, it’s important to seek professional guidance. Sometimes individuals reach a point in their lives when they need extra support. It’s important to honor this and get the help they need.

Individuals should take the lead in choosing their therapist and find one that supports their philosophy. If a person decides to have a more mindful, less punitive relationship with food then the therapist’s approach should align with working towards these goals.

A professional, thoughtful, and reassuring therapist can be the key to helping change eating patterns for good.

Sally Rudnick is a licensed clinical social worker with a practice in Warwick who specializes in working with individuals struggling with food. She can be reached at 917-656-9439 or at sally_rudnick@yahoo.com.

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