As I wrote the title of this, I found myself thinking that this is really a loaded question. For many, food has been taken from its rightful place as "fuel" and turned into a mode of punishment or comfort. This is not to say that food should not be savored and enjoyed, but what about when it becomes more than “food?" What steps do we take next and should we even address it?
Our bodies are resilient, but they need proper nutrition to stay fueled and to keep us healthy. I once read a quote about food that said something to the effect of “food is fuel and it is okay to want something that sustains life." This may sound like a logical concept, but for some, the thought of desiring or allowing oneself to have certain foods may feel unfathomable. Or maybe the idea of having an appropriate amount of food feels impossible. As someone who works alongside others to help them learn how to build a healthy relationship with food, this really resonated with me. How could something that seems so simple carry such a heavy burden for so many? The truth is that over time we have manipulated our innate ability to self-regulate and the lines got blurred. We started focusing on being “disciplined” or our “lack of discipline” with regards to food.
Personally, I think if we are going to refer to discipline when it comes to food, it should be about someone’s discipline to acknowledge body cues and act on them to appropriately fuel the body. Fueling (feeding) the body is about respecting the body and valuing what it can and does do for us despite us continuing to falter with our attempts to manipulate it as a society. For some food is being used to provide the comfort that we are not receiving in other areas of our lives or being used as something to feel a sense of control when everything else around us feels like chaos.
This leads me to my next question -- how do we know when we need help and who can actually help with this? It may seem obvious to incorporate a dietitian into part of the treatment team when there is a new diagnosis given such as diabetes or maybe after having a recent heart attack, for example. What about the not so obvious things though? What about things such as disordered eating? Let’s be honest, it is a point of vulnerability to share with someone that you may use and/or abuse food in a way that you may feel is different from how it is intended to be used or even how you, yourself, truly want to use it. Why do we insist on keeping ourselves held captive by something that is needed to give us life and should be enjoyable? Perhaps your relationship with food has been off the beaten path for years and you are just now realizing it or maybe by reading this blog you are starting to ask yourself questions. Maybe you have lost your trust with food years ago and you never had the courage to say something because you were afraid of what others would think.
The truth is that most people would benefit from seeing a dietitian. Below are some things to consider when trying to determine if you should take that next step. A dietitian not only helps you learn about how to build a balanced plate to nourish the body, but they also provide nutrition counseling. Through nutrition counseling, you will find that it is more than just “eat this and not that” which is what likely comes to mind for many.
1. Has your relationship with food changed in a way that would be considered obsessive/extreme/rigid? Has there been such a change that you are concerned about or others have expressed concern for the changes?
2. Do you struggle with rigid thinking when it comes to food? Do you feel afraid you will lose control with certain foods or feel like certain foods must be completely omitted in order to feel healthy and happy?
3. Has your social life been affected by your food intake? Do you forgo social outings due to not knowing what will be served or if it will be on your “diet”?
4. Has food and meal time become a point of tension or anxiety in your home? Does going to the grocery store cause heightened anxiety?
5. Do you have difficulty sifting through the various diets that are online? Have you tried multiple diets in the past on your own and to no avail your relationship with food remained tattered?
While there are several things to consider when you are thinking about taking that next step and getting help, it is easy to see why for some --- food can’t just be food. If you are considering getting help, there is no time better than the present.
Feel like you made need help? The dietitians at Lemond Nutrition are licensed professionals who can help you discover a healthy relationship with food and help put food in its proper place. Although we are not counselors, we have a unique knowledge-base in what is a balanced eating pattern to guide you in a way that is truly healthy - not just in nutrition, but in approach. As we meet with you, we may suggest a therapist that specializes in this area as well depending on what is discussed. Give us a call today at 972-422-9180. Now serving Plano | Rockwall | Lubbock | Virtual (online).
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