Eliminate food rules as this places restrictions on what you feel you can and cannot eat. This also leads to moralizing food as good and bad when truly, there are no good and bad foods. There are more nutritious foods (fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains) and less nutritious foods (candy, treats, pastries, sweets, fatty meats, fast food) but all foods provide energy for the body and brain so moving into a mindset of moderation vs restriction and moralizing food can be a great first step!
Stop tracking your food intake, mentally and physically. While tracking your food can provide you with a sense of control surrounding your intake, it can also place a physical and mental restriction on what you feel you can fit into your calories/macros/specific diet. This can make it harder and harder for your body to recognize natural hunger and fullness cues pulling you away from your intuition.
Set up a feel-good environment when eating so you can connect with your meal and with yourself. We shouldn't be inhaling our food and moving onto the next task. We should be eating slowly, savoring the flavors and textures of the meal, breathing between bites, setting the utensil down between bites, chewing enough so we can better digest the food we are eating and all in all, enjoy the meal! This may be mean eating outside on a beautiful day, turning the TV/iPad/phone off during your meal, engaging in conversation with whoever else is with you, or listening to music while you eat.
Find other ways of regulating your emotions and stressors instead of turning to food but don't let yourself skip meals either. It's important to get reacquainted with your intuition surrounding your food choices, asking yourself, "am I really hungry?, am I really full?, do I want more food because it's delicious and making me feel good or because I'm trying to distract myself from feelings/tasks I know I should be addressing?" It's OKAY to emotionally eat because eating can be emotional! Celebrating a wedding or birthday, sad at funeral, enjoying friends company, on a date night but when we use food to suppress emotions or further fuel them past our intuitive senses, then we can enter a negative state of emotional eating. A way to figure out where you fall on the continuum of eating is to look at the photo below and determine where you fit in at a given time of hunger.
5. Find a support system. It was crucial for me to tell people about my struggles with food, regardless of how embarrassing it was. Unfortunately, I didn't find much help at home but telling my boyfriend at the time (now husband) was actually the thing that saved my life. He never judged me, never hyper-focused on food around me and always asked how he could help instead of giving unsolicited help or advice. I understand that finding this person in your life may be more difficult so seeking professional help could be necessary for your healing journey. But having someone in your corner can truly be the thing you need to just start healing. But know that you have to do the work and this support person cannot do it for you. As someone with experience with disordered eating, we tend to get defensive/pushy/emotional surrounding food and the choices we make so never put rules on yourself or tell your support person to put rules on you either, but rather, tell them your plan and your goals, ask for support but if you 'fall off track' ask them for acceptance, grace and encouragement to do better next time.
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