How good (or bad) is your relationship with food?

Nutritionists might encourage us to think of food only as fuel and to eat only when we need to, but the truth is that many of us have a very different relationship with food.

Whether you're a foodie who Instagrams every bite, or a serial dieter who categorises every piece of food as "good" or "bad," for most of us food is about so much more than sustaining our body – and not all of us have a good relationship with our eating habits.

If you suspect your attitude to food and eating could be affecting your weight, your health or other aspects of your life, it's important to recognise where the issues lie and to know how best to fix them.

Here are a few signs your relationship with food is not all good, and some simple fixes, too.

1. The sign: Your eating is tied to your emotions
Do you find you mindlessly polish off a chocolate bar without noticing when you're stressed at work? Or that all your good diet intentions go out the window when you arrive home wrecked in the evening? Many of us turn to food in times of boredom, tiredness, frustration, anxiety or stress, and end up using it as a crutch for other, larger issues.

How to change it:
Next time you find yourself reaching for something to eat when you know in your heart you're not hungry, ask yourself what else your body might be craving. If you're tired, anxious or stressed, try some deep breathing exercises, yoga, a short walk in the fresh air or a nap if possible. If all else fails, a cup of tea or even some hot water with lemon will give your hands something to do and should take your mind off thoughts of food.


2. The sign: You lie to yourself (or others) about your eating habits
You only opt for a green salad when you're out for lunch, but know you'll spend the evening working your way through everything remotely tasty in the cupboards if there's no one around to see. Once the wrappers are at the bottom of the bin, it's like it never happened, right?

How to change it:
If you feel you're overeating, it's time to face up to what you're consuming every day. Keep a food diary for at least three days, and you should be able to better identify when and why you binge or needlessly snack.


3. The sign: You beat yourself up about food "failures"
You're at home, craving a takeaway pizza. An hour later, you're still craving it, so you give in. The next day it's all you can think about and you feel guilty for letting yourself down. If this sounds like you, it's a sure sign you're in the "food is the enemy" camp.

How to change it:
If you find yourself giving into a craving, accept what is happening, savour the food, and move on. One pizza is not going to ruin things – and we bet it's downright tasty.


4. The sign: The number on the scales has a huge affect on your mood
When you're a few pounds up, you automatically feel depressed and worthless, but when it's a few pounds down everything is rosy again.

How to change it:
Water weight, the time of day you weight yourself, and what you've just eaten, all have a huge affect on your weight at any given time. Avoid the scales and focus on being a healthier, more energised you by exercising and eating well. Health is not a number.

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