Help taking the fear out of food? by Christie Hunter, RD

Some of my clients seek the help of a Registered Dietitian to help them lose weight. At the first meeting, we do an assessment form where we ask questions about their family history, health history, medications, supplements, shopping and cooking habits as well as weight history. As part of the weight history, we talk about previous attempts to lose weight as many people have often tried numerous times and a variety of ways. Most of the time it includes some variation where certain foods or food groups have been restricted so they have learned that these foods such as carbs are “bad” for them. In conversation about what a normal day looks like with food, this fear of certain foods like carbs really comes out. For example, it might look something like this “I eat eggs for breakfast but I normally don’t eat anything with it because I know carbs are bad for you so I shouldn’t do toast or even a banana.” Or the conversation could be like this “I was eating yogurt for breakfast but then I heard that dairy was bad for you so I stopped eating yogurt. I really love yogurt too but I am scared of it because of what I read about it.” Do either of these sentiments sound familiar to you?

If so, I want you to think about how those previous diets have failed you. No healthy-eating plan should include fear of foods. It gives food a power that it does not deserve and harms you even more in the future. The minute that you were told that a certain food like yogurt or a food group like carbs belong on the “no no list” then it sets you up to crave them and obsess about them even more. Maybe you dream about the day that you reach your “goal” and what your “treat” will be and I can almost guarantee that it includes a food that you have restricted for so long. Since it has been on the restricted list for so long, you lose sight on moderation and mindful eating so you almost binge eat it.

Having a fear of food or food groups is not helpful with successful long-term weight, maintaining a well-balanced diet, or having a healthy relationship with food. One of my recent clients had been on a liquid shake plan where she drank her breakfast, drank her lunch and then ate lean protein and green vegetables for dinner. She was ready to come off of that plan but was fearful of eating a variety of foods for fear of gaining weight. She said, “I don’t know how to eat any more because I am scared of food.” We worked for several weeks about learning about the nutrients that each food group provides and how they are ALL part of a healthy eating plan. We learned that ALL foods fit and that even sweet and savory foods can be enjoyed. In fact, when we allow them to be part of our plan and don’t give them the power of being a “forbidden food” that we can eat them mindfully and enjoy them when our body tells us that it is hungry and stop when full.

If you are experiencing a fear of food, then please let us help you enjoy food again! It’s not too late to start a healthy relationship with food again. We can help you learn how to eat nutritiously and deliciously without giving food the power!

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