Don’t worry, a healthy relationship with food isn’t another diet. It’s actually going against diet culture by developing a positive attitude towards eating. As Malaysians, how can we not love food? We have a variety of mouth-watering cuisines to indulge in, but does it still count as enjoyment if we feel bad afterwards?
Unfortunately, we all have beaten ourselves up for eating in a way that society says is ‘too much’ or unhealthy. As drool-worthy as our dishes may be, most of us look at our food with fear (even when we’re snapping a pic of it). It’s this fear of judgement, and the guilt that follows after, that’s unhealthy.
A healthy relationship with food allows you to listen to your own feelings, cravings and needs, instead of external (and totally unfair) ‘rules’. Developing this relationship does take conscious effort. We’ve asked Nutrivin, a platform run by soon-to-be dietitian, Jane Chong, for some advice on how to feel at peace with food:
What does it mean to have a healthy relationship with food?
“It’s not about the types of food you eat or the quality of your diet, but rather why you choose the foods you eat. Besides getting nourishment from food, you’re also connecting to different cultures and people, exploring new food and finding joy in them.”
Why is it important?
“It’s so common for us to comment on the food we or others eat, that it’s considered ‘normal’ or socially acceptable. This is actually a vicious cycle that can be damaging to a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. When we have a healthy relationship with food, it relieves this stress and anxiety around eating.”
What is considered a bad relationship with food?
“Not giving yourself permission to eat. For example, you follow strict diets or feel the need to ‘make up’ for eating unhealthy food. When you restrict yourself from eating, you end up ignoring your body’s hunger cues. You may do this because you’re afraid of being judged.”
How can we improve our eating habits?
“By improving your eating experience. Find out what would satisfy your body and mind. Practice mindful eating to truly enjoy your food – you can do this by engaging all your senses and eating without any distractions. This will help you appreciate food better and develop a more positive attitude towards eating.”
Please do not blame yourself for your eating behaviors – diet culture has dictated how we should eat for far too long. Start by being kinder to yourself and paying attention to your body’s wants and needs. You’ll soon begin to feel what it really means to enjoy food and eating!
Follow Nutrivin on Instagram for more advice on nutrition, health, body image and wellbeing.