If you’ve experienced food anxiety or agonized about the food choices you’re making, there are ways to make yourself feel better about it
Ever since I started dieting and really tracking what and how much I ate a couple of years ago, I noticed that food started to drive me mad—and sad.
The act of considering what I really wanted to eat (which was mostly junk) plus the moral dilemma of actually eating it started to weigh heavily on my mind, especially if I didn’t do any physical activity to offset it. There were days when I would sink into a depression because I felt like I was failing, or about to fail, my fitness and diet goals.
I was randomly browsing my Facebook feed one day when one of my former gym coaches shared a post about something called “food anxiety,” which means exactly what the label says it is.
Simply put, it’s the act of obsessing over the eating choices and decisions you make because of how it would affect your body, health, and fitness. I was relieved to find out it was actually a real thing, and that I could finally put a name to this emotion I was feeling.
The good thing was I had been practicing some mental techniques and self-assertions to get me through bouts of food anxiety. Here are five I’d like to share with you.
1. One bad day of eating won’t derail your whole diet
Just as overall fitness is the collective result of many little good choices you make every day, your diet and health will likely not be destroyed by a questionable decision—or an entire day of them.
This maxim is the best thing to tell yourself if you’re feeling any pangs of guilt from eating food that makes you happy, no matter how devoid of nutrients they might be. What matters more is that you pick up eating more nutrient-dense food afterwards.
2. Don’t make a big deal out of your choices
Related to the first tip, if you do end up giving into a craving, just accept it and move on. You can always go back to work and make up for it. Dwelling on it will just make you and your food anxiety worse.
3. Remind yourself that you’re eating for sustenance
If you’re teetering on the edge of collapse because you’re not shoving in as many calories as you need, remember that the number one reason you’re eating is to fuel your body and the changes you want to see it make. This is especially important if you do any physical activities—together, undereating and overexerting is not a good combo.
4. Don’t obsess over the scale
You might have heard this one already, but it’s worth repeating. The scale doesn’t tell the full story—you could be losing weight slower than you wanted, but in truth you might be burning fat and building muscle.
Look in the mirror and feel what you’re feeling: If it’s better than before, take it in, and remind yourself that it’s the result of good choices you made for yourself, like choosing to eat better and adhering to a diet that suits you best.
5. Remind yourself of why you’re dieting
Of course, you also want to nip some of your cravings in the bud, especially when going off-track seems tempting. When it’s time to exercise a little self-control, remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Focus on your concrete, actionable goal, such as gaining more energy or improving your overall health. That should clear up any agonizing doubts.