Beyond the Need for Nourishment

If food is on your mind much of the time, that is a clue that your relationship to food may go beyond the need for nourishment.

For most people, food means many things besides simple nutrition. How we relate to food can help or hinder our efforts to achieve good health and a reasonable body weight.

People can learn a great deal about their relationship to food by keeping a daily food diary or by simply thinking about their motives every time they eat. A pattern may emerge of eating to relieve boredom, guilt or tension or to please others. For some, food has always been a reward for good behavior; others eat when they need to feel comforted.

Once the pattern is recognized, it can be broken. One way is to change some food related activities. This may involve:

  • setting a different time for eating and sticking to the new time;
  • eating only in designated areas, such as at the table;
  • learning to read food labels and buy foods for their nutritional value rather than their comfort value.

Another way to change your relationship to food is to look at the underlying cause of inappropriate food cravings.

If food is on your mind much of the time, this is a clue that your relationship to food may go beyond the need for nourishment. Once you’ve identified the source of your food cravings, make a list of things you can do instead of eating. Tense? Learn relaxation techniques. Bored? Expand your horizons by taking a class, getting some good books at the library, or doing some volunteer work.

Each time food cravings arise, remind yourself that the purpose of food is to maintain your body’s health, not to solve other problems in your life. If you find it difficult to change your relationship to food on your own, ask your healthcare provider about a behavior modification program that you can follow step by step.

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