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  • Writer's pictureBrandon McDonald

How You Can Fix Your Relationship with Food

Two main truths

Before we dive into a conversation about your food relationship, we have to establish (and believe) these two big truths:

  1. Food isn't good or bad.

  2. Eating certain foods doesn't make YOU good or bad.

What do you mean “It’s not Bad?”

When we talk about “healthy” food, it’s usually referred to as good. In general, it IS good FOR you, but we have to understand that food doesn’t have morality. The “health” of the food means how much nutrients you get out of it. The more often you eat “healthy” food, the more likely it is that you will get your body the nutrients it needs, and in turn you’ll feel and function better. Where it gets tricky is when we start labeling ourselves based on our decisions.

I think we can all agree that, based on the idea of nutrients, chocolate cake is not “healthy”. It’s not full of vitamins, protein, fiber, or many other things your body needs to function at a high level. What it does have is a heavenly smell, orgasmic taste, and pop that makes your brain go crazy when you take a bite (it can’t be just me right?).

Now, if we go by the societal “unhealthy food is bad” idea, then eating that piece of cake would then in context make you a bad person for eating it. BUT THAT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE!

  1. This means there is nothing wrong with desserts, fast food, alcohol, etc

  2. BUT, they should be kept in check, with most of your diet coming from whole foods.

Shame Cycle

Really what we are talking about is the idea of shame. Shame is when guilt about something you DO turns into something you believe you ARE. As you can imagine, this can turn into a pretty vicious cycle:

  1. I eat something “unhealthy” and feel bad for doing it

  2. I completely cut it out because it’s “bad”

  3. I feel good that I’m not eating it

  4. SO good that I’m “good” enough to eat just a little bit of it

  5. I eat too much of it

  6. I tell myself I’m bad for not being able to say no…

The problem here isn’t that I ate something “unhealthy”, it’s that I believed that choice made me bad. This can stem from any number of factors: family conversation growing up, magazines, social media, and the list goes on. If you want to do more reading on it, check out this article.

In order to have a healthy relationship with food, you have to first get yourself out of the cycle. It’s ok to feel guilty about a choice you made. Just know that choice doesn’t define who you are.

Choices define outcomes, YOU decide who you are.

*NOTE: If you or a loved one feel stuck in this cycle, it’s important to talk to people you trust about it. Sometimes it can be a spouse or a friend, but sometimes it’s best to go straight to a professional. Nutritionists, counselors, or trainers all have training and experience dealing with this.

Fix your relationship

The real way to have a healthy relationship stems around knowing when to say “no”, and when it’s ok to say “yes”. I’m a big believer in allowing yourself to eat the foods that you enjoy. The real trick is figuring out your system. In a later article we will talk more about ways to establish that rhythm, but for now I want you to start with these steps:

  1. Be present and enjoy the food.

    1. Take a breath before you eat

    2. Notice your food, take in the smells

    3. Eat slowly and pay attention to your food

  2. Find rhythms to cook more.

    1. crockpot/instapot meals

    2. Meal prep

  3. If you like food that you know makes you feel gross.

    1. Figure out if its worth having at all

    2. If it is, control how much is in your house

    3. “If its present, you'll eat it”

  4. Schedule in times to go out.

    1. Food you love doesn't have to disappear

    2. Being part of your plan makes it easier to keep guilt at bay

    3. Take time and enjoy it. (breath, smell, etc)

  5. Remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint.

    1. Eating healthier doesn't have to happen overnight

    2. If you have a lifelong history of hearing “food is good/bad” or “you are good/bad for…” don’t expect one week to make all that shame go away

    3. It takes time, and that’s ok


As we get further into this conversation, remember that you won’t ever be perfect, and that’s ok! (I mean, not everyone can be Phil, right?) What we are trying to accomplish here is setting up lifelong habits that allow you to feel good in your own skin AND enjoy the pleasures of life. That doesn’t mean it won’t take effort on your part, and that doesn’t mean sometimes we have to say “no” or at least “not yet” to that piece of chocolate cake.

PS - You’ve got this!


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