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  • Writer's pictureRhea Lewandoski R.D.

What Impacts Our Relationship with Food?

Author: Rhea Lewandoski R.D.


Couple  at a food truck

Most of us are born intuitive and competent eaters. I recognize how certain physical characteristics, diagnoses, disabilities, medications and/or neurodivergence may hinder the ability to feel bodily sensations and/or get in the way of feeding. However, this does not erase the possibility of knowing and trusting your ability to feed yourself, I would argue that knowing ourselves and maybe that we need structure, routine, or support to nourish ourselves adequately is very intuitive, but that is for another blog :)


Most of us are born with the ability to know what food we want and how much of that food we want. As young as infancy, we are able to feel cues and recognize the need to eat or feed for comfort and bond with others through food.


We can experience (and it is often not ill intended) being steered away from knowing what we need and want from a very early age and throughout adulthood that can have lasting impacts on our relationship with food.


Examples:

  • A child states they are hungry and the response is “you can’t be”.

  • Being told you have “earn” your food.

  • The language someone has used to describe certain foods: “cheat”, “forbidden”, “bad”, “off-limits”, “indulgence”, “junk”, etc.

So often, indirect, and direct messages about food and our or others’ bodies can hinder our innate ability to trust our own body.


Below is a non-exhaustive list of factors that may influence your relationship to food:

  • Biological: imbalances in the chemicals in the brain that impact hunger, fullness, appetite, and digestion.

  • Psychological: Emotional well-being. Available coping tools. Difficulty expressing feelings and emotions. Perfectionism.

  • Social: Cultural pressures - what and how to eat. Perceived pressure to change one's body. Cultural norms that value physical appearance. Systemic oppression related to racial, ethnic, size/weight or other related forms of discrimination or prejudice.


Below are a few journal or thought prompts to help you get curious about how your relationship with food has been impacted and what messaging you continue to hold onto:

  1. Can you think of messages or food myths that were or are prominent in your life that change the way you eat or choose foods?

  2. What does your current relationship with food look or feel like?

  3. How would you like your relationship with food to look or feel like?

  4. How would you describe a healthy relationship with food?

  5. What gets in the way of your food freedom?

  6. How do you choose when and what to eat?


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