Do you have a healthy relationship with food?

We speak to holistic health coach, Stefanie Jung about our attachment to food and why ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ are words you may want to avoid.

Do you have a healthy relationship with food?

We speak to holistic health coach, Stefanie Jung about our attachment to food and why ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ are words you may want to avoid.

It’s not just the people in our life we can have destructive relationships with. It’s also the things that are important to us, and food is certainly one of them.

Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, holistic health coach and yoga teacher Stefanie Jung says that it’s less about what you eat but the mindset and the intention behind those food choices.

“For example, I could be having a celery juice in the morning, but it could be coming from a place of complete and utter self-care and self-love, or from a place of restriction and deprivation,” she tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode Do you have a healthy relationship with food?

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“So that’s what I look at, and try to figure out, does someone have a healthy relationship with food?”

One of the major tell-tale signs she looks for is fullness and hunger cues.

“It’s about eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full, but also not beating yourself up if you occasionally overeat or even emotionally eat. Knowing that is part of having a healthy relationship with food,” she says.

The other factor is where you prescribe strict rules around food.

“It’s incredibly important to give yourself that unconditional permission to eat everything,” she says. “So obviously there’s physical restriction but then there’s mental restriction… a good versus bad food mentality…That probably isn’t the healthiest relationship with food and does tend to backfire in the long run.”

If you relate to some of these signs, you may want to consider if the eating habits are starting to impact other parts of your life negatively. This could mean it’s worth reaching out for some professional help and advice.

“If your relationship with food affects your life in any shape of form, be it your social life (how you show up when you go out to dinner parties and stress about those things), or how you show up in your relationships or your work. If your relationship with food affects any of these things then that’s probably a tell-tale sign that there is something for you to work on there,” she says.

To change the rhetoric around wellbeing and food, Jung recommends we become aware of the rules we’ve created for ourselves and veer away from the good food/bad food mentality.

“The thing is that the second we tell ourselves, we can't have ‘food x’, we want ‘food x’, right? Because it becomes a forbidden fruit effect. It's like telling a child to not touch the hot stove top. The first thing that that child's going to want to do is touch that a hot stove top. So by removing the mental restriction, you actually give yourself the opportunity to tap into your body and ask, ‘well, I know I can have this any time of the day that I want. Do I really want to eat it right now?’”

She recommends we also try to steer clear of calling foods ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ and change it to making ‘empowering’ and ‘disempowering’ food choices.

“That means that you could possibly have eaten, let’s say, a pizza or a burger or whatever, which is kind of – air-quotes – ‘unhealthy’, but it was an empowering food choice because it came from a place of self-care at that moment because you genuinely wanted to eat that and there was no guilt or frustration attached to that,” she says.

“That’s part of making healthy food choices, is that there is no morality attached to it.”

She also swaps out the word ‘unhealthy’ for ‘play foods’.

“That’s a food that, maybe from a nutritional perspective isn’t that valuable and it’s not a very nutritious food, but there’s other value that food gives you. There’s another source of nourishment it provides.”

If this episode raises any issues with you please contact The Butterfly Foundation.

Find out more about Stef on Instagram @wholesomestef or via her website.

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