7 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship with Food

7 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship with Food

7 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship with Food

In our weight and image-obsessed culture, it is very easy to feel very overwhelmed about food. This “complicated” relationship can sabotage our very best efforts, leave us feeling down and simply take the fun out of eating. Who wants that? However, it doesn’t have to be this way! To help us dive into the 7 signs of an unhealthy relationship with foods, I have invited my friend and fellow dietitian, Vincci Tsui to share her thoughts. Vincci has a private practice in Calgary where she helps her clients ditch the “diet culture” and reclaim their relationship with foods and their bodies!  I absolutely LOVE Vincci’s work. Be sure to follow her on social media, grab her free e-book and check out her awesome website!


Most people know about the three main eating disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. However, many are unaware that they may have disordered eating.  Disordered eating is defined as a variety of disturbed, abnormal eating behaviours. A survey conducted amongst over 4,000 American women aged 25-45 found that 3 in 4 women reported disordered eating behaviours, with 1 in 10 suffering from an eating disorder. 74.5% of the women surveyed also reported that “their concerns about shape and weight interfered with their happiness.”

Disordered eating is often ignored, or worse, celebrated or prescribed in our fatphobic, “wellness”-obsessed culture. Are you curious if your “clean eating” might be too clean? Here are some signs that your relationship status with food is “Complicated”.


7 Signs that Your Relationship Status with Food is Complicated

1. Food is Your Worst Enemy… And Your Best Friend

You agonize over every morsel of food that passes your lips, and pore over ingredients lists with a fine-toothed comb. Even then, you give most foods the side eye, convinced that Big Ag or Big Food are hiding something from you. No one seems to be able to accommodate your dietary needs (Gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, GMO-free and guilt-free) and if you had your way, you wouldn’t have to eat at all! Especially not after what food has done to you!

Yet at the same time, you love food. You love food “too much” – isn’t that what got us here in the first place? Food is always there when you need it. It comforts, calms, soothes and numbs… and then makes you feel awful and guilty and you’re back to being enemies again! Rinse and repeat.







2. You Categorize Foods as Good or Bad

For most of us, it starts innocently enough. As kids, we’re all taught about junk food (though these days they’re often being called “sometimes” foods or “fun” foods.)

Whether you use the term “good/bad”, “clean/dirty”, “real/fake”, the real problem arises when you let these characteristics transfer onto you. It’s a “good day” if you eat “good” foods, and you admonish yourself for being “bad” if you eat “bad” ones.






3. You Live According to Strict Food Rules… And Beat Yourself Up When You Break Them

“Nothing with more than five ingredients.”

No food after 7 PM.”

“No going back for seconds.”

It doesn’t matter whether your rules are about what, when or how much you eat, what matters is that you’re in control. And when you start losing your grasp, you do what you know best, and that is to grab tighter.


3 in 4 women have some form of disordered eating. Are you one of them? Click To Tweet


4. You Let the Scale Make or Break Your Day

You weigh yourself at the same time every morning. Naked, because “every bit counts”. You step on and off a few times, hoping that that extra half-pound is from stepping on the scale funny.

If the number goes down, it’s a good day. You’re doing “everything right”. Maybe you’ll even let yourself eat something. If the number goes up, it’s a bad day. You question everything you ate the day before, and wonder how to make up for it today by cutting back on the food and/or spending a few extra minutes at the gym.

If the number stays the same, then it depends if you’re a glass half-full or half-empty person.






5. Everything is a Calorie Count

The #1 thing for you when it comes to food is not the taste, the flavour, the texture, or even the cost. It’s the calories, and how it fits into your “calorie budget.” Same goes for exercise. Never mind the fact that exercise alone doesn’t really promote weight loss, despite the multitude of other benefits – you know exactly how long you have to spend on the treadmill to “burn off” your lunch and “save up some calories” for dinner.

Whether you count calories, points or macros, food means nothing more to you than a number… that you want to keep as low as possible.

Do you want to break free from the calorie counting? Find out more: Click To Tweet


6. You Don’t Trust Yourself Around Food

Your house is a “No Snack Zone” because if there’s even a fun-sized chocolate bar in your home, you know that it’s going to end up in your stomach in no time flat, and you’re going to find all its little fun-sized friends too.

You feel powerless against the foods that you crave, and you’re convinced that you might even be addicted. You feel that you need structure, rules and control in order to eat well.






7. Your Life is On Hold Until You Reach Your Goal Weight

When you live in a larger body, it seems like the world wants you to put your life on hold until you reach your goal weight. Chairs are too small, doors are too narrow, clothes don’t fit. But what if you are holding yourself back on things that you actually can do right now?

Are you telling yourself you can’t go out to socialize with your friends because there’s “nothing you can eat”?

Worried that you won’t find love, have friends or land your dream job at your current size?

Convinced that life would just be better if you lost the weight?



Bottom Line:

If you see yourself in some of the above statements, remember that it’s OKYou are not alone.

As cheesy as it sounds, recognizing the problem is the first step. I will admit that even a year ago I was blind to how pervasive and problematic disordered eating really is, and now that I’ve seen it, I can’t “unsee” it in my clients, family and friends.

As a few first steps, I invite you to approach your eating with curiosity, not judgment. Question your food rules. Ask yourself why they are rules for you and how they have served you, then ask yourself what would happen if you let them go… Even if it’s just for a meal. As an experiment.



If this post resonated with you, be sure to download Vincci’s free eBook, which walks you through the first 7 Steps to Start Healing Your Relationship with Food & Your Body.


Food Fight