Whether you have avoided dinner parties to resist the temptation of tasty treats, have felt guilty after indulging on foods you consider ‘bad’, or have resisted trying something you have never eaten before, everyone at some point in their life has been afraid of food. Here are 6 ways to face your fear of food.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Food
It’s still possible to be a nutrition-savvy adult without causing undue worry, stress, and fear surrounding your food choices. Follow these simple tips to help rid yourself of your food anxieties for good:
- Confront your fears
- In many cases, it may not be the food you fear, but rather the effect it may have your body. One helpful way to tackle this is to write down the worst possible scenario in regard to the foods you fear. Whether you feel that if you eat one sweet, you’ll never stop and become morbidly obese, or have an upcoming event where you feel people will judge you for not looking your best, having a written copy of your statement will allow you to decide if your fear is reasonable or not.
- Get to know your food
- Removing all distractions and focusing all of your attention on your food and the eating process during meal times is very important. It is best to remove all distractions such as TV, computer, books, phones, etc. A practice called mindful eating teaches you to look at your food, chew slowly, taste every bite, and focus on how you feel before, during and after meals. Food preparation also plays an important role. You may not like steamed broccoli, however, you may not feel the same about roasted broccoli.
- Choose foods for the benefit
- As cheesy as it may sound, there is truth in the power of positive thinking. Changing how you see and react with food will change your mindset regarding food. Stop thinking about the foods you “can’t” have and start thinking about all of the foods you “can” have. For example, instead of thinking that you can’t have coffee because it makes you too jittery, tell yourself that you are choosing green tea because of its calming effect and health benefits.
- Eat for quality
- In a time when we are constantly bombarded with food products filled with chemical additives, trans fats, loads of added sugar, and more, it is important to be aware of our food choices. Make sure you are paying attention to the proper serving size of the foods you eat and whenever possible, try to buy organic. Foods without labels, such as whole fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and dried beans are the best options.
- Banish forbidden food
- When we classify food or even whole food groups as off-limits, it only increases the cravings we feel for that forbidden food item. Rid yourself of the concept of forbidden foods. Within moderation, let yourself have a few potato chips when a craving arises. This will prevent over-indulgence in other items in a search to quell your craving. Still feel guilty eating a few chips here and there? Try finding a healthier alternative. Make your own sweet potato chips and nix the salt in favor of other seasonings to save on fat, calories, and sodium while still allowing yourself the crunch and satisfaction of a chip.
- Trust yourself
- This last one may be the hardest for those of us who feel we have no willpower but don’t worry, you’re not alone! If you really crave those potato chips but are afraid you’ll eat the whole bag, the time has come to change our thinking and trust ourselves. Many times, it’s not the food we fear, it is our uncontrolled reaction to it. Ever sat down with a spoonful of ice cream that turned into a whole quart of ice cream? We started with the best of intentions, so what happened? Just like how we need to banish forbidden foods, we also need to stop labeling foods as good or bad. When you alter the way you think about and interact with a food item that once caused you anxiety and tested your willpower, you will begin to see it as just another food and it will start to lose its appeal.
If you need help facing your fear of food, come see me for a free nutrition consultation!Schedule a Nutrition Consultation
Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.