9 happy signs that you’re finding peace with food
Improving your relationship with food isn't easy, but here are some of the signs that you're on the right track.
1. Diet talk
When your work colleagues regale the ups and downs of their latest wellness plan, during your morning check-in on Zoom, you take a step back from the conversation. Once upon a time, this would have been a monumental trigger for a week of food angst and endless comparisons. Now, you’ve stopped the endless new dietary regimes, as they were triggering out-of-control eating, and you’re staying doggedly in this lane.
Shopping in the supermarket takes a reasonable amount of time these days. You load up the trolley with appealing foods and get understandably frustrated when other people block the aisles; these being quite normal supermarket experiences. Previously, such a trip would have meant endless scanning of labels, hovering around wanted (but not allowed) foods and a torturous indecision about ‘the right thing’ to buy.
3. Media triggers
You can read a magazine or scroll through your social media feed without distraction. Before, you’d be constantly side-tracked by miracle diet advertisements or stories about building your dream body in 30 days. You’ve done these plans enough times to recognise their seductive appeal, whilst holding onto a deep knowing that they have the potential to wreck your relationship with food. Not interested!
4. The weighing scales
You go to a friend’s house, and you know that she has some super-duper weighing scales in the bathroom cupboard. They can supposedly report all kinds of body statistics, which frankly can trigger an array of emotions in one quick weigh-in.
No longer are you sneaking to the bathroom to step on this alluring contraption. Now, scales are for fish and fish alone. You’re much more focused on the beauty products in the cabinet and simply using this room for its intended purpose.
You’re not hanging onto ‘the dress’ that you’d bought for your friend’s wedding in 2017 when you detoxed on lettuce for two months in preparation. You could hardly breathe when wearing this item and the agony of the wedding buffet is still imprinted on your mind. After weeks of deprivation, not surprisingly, you lost control when presented with the evening banquet of deliciousness. The dress has gone to pastures new and you’re wearing one that fits. What a delight it is to feel comfort and some self-acceptance.
6. Food porn
You’re not preoccupied with endless scanning of food porn, reading cookery books or examining recipes online that you’d love to eat but cannot allow. You acknowledge that this is such a poor substitute for satisfying real hunger and you cook yourself tasty meals that bring you satiety and enjoyment.
You’re more in touch with all the feelings. Anger, joy, upset, contentment, anxiety or happiness – they’re all in the emotional repertoire of life. Feelings bring brightness and technicolour to your world, whereas before, you lived in a bubble of food preoccupation numbness.
8. Clean eating
Clean eating involves washing your courgettes, rather than spiralising them. Once upon a time, you lived on water and vegetables, in a driven attempt to pursue optimum health. Paradoxically, this regime brought you extreme unwellness with hair loss, feeling cold and constant thoughts about food. You shudder at the thought of going back.
Your life has expanded again for hobbies, friendships and travel (post-Covid). You feel excited about possibilities ahead and engaging with living. Your old diet had promised health, happiness and self-worth but it failed momentously in its delivery. Your mood dipped, social eating was excruciating, and you had never felt more isolated and alone. Anxiety rippled through every day and the body goals achieved never satisfied.
When you’re 90 years old and looking back, you want to have lived an experience-rich and adventurous life. This just isn’t compatible with the old body focus and you’re happily walking along a different road.
If you’re struggling with your relationship with food and body image, offer yourself self-compassion and understanding. Disordered eating has been particularly triggered during the pandemic when the usual sources of life-meaning and support have been limited. Don’t suffer alone and you may wish to think about seeking out support through counselling.
This article was written by Harriet Frew.
Find a therapist dealing with eating disorders
All therapists are verified professionals.