Living and Thriving Gluten Free

Healthy & Whole Food Eating

Categories: Mindset & Attitude    

When we look at food we think of it as delicious looking. When it looks good, we say it "looks delicious."

If we have a relationship with food that's unhealthy, such as if we're overweight, or diabetic or we have some other health condition where food can be a problem, then how we view food has a big impact on our health.

Chocolate layer cake garnished with raspberries
Image by: Taylor Kiser

What if we could change how we see it? What if we could look at food and instead of thinking it's delicious, we think of it as art?

What Influences What and How Much We Eat:

Our relationship with food it mostly in our head. There is some basic need for food, but most of our western culture met that goal long ago.

At this point, most of us don't eat just for sustenance. What we eat and how much we eat are due to a number of influences:

  • Cultural - We eat as part of the social norms in our families and communities.
  • Reward - Food is often seen as a reward, for a job well done, or as a sign of love, or because we "deserve it."
  • Marketing - Billions of dollars are spent by food manufacturers to get us to eat their food.
  • Addiction - There are real addictive properties to some foods and additives, such as sugar, msg, etc. Many additives are known by the manufacturers to be addictive, but it's not publically disclosed, and often flat out denied. This kind of info takes decades to come to the light of day, long after the damage has been done.
  • Peer Pressure - Who we spend social time with will influence what we eat. If we have friends with similar food issues they won't want us to change, because it can mean they should change too, and they're not interested in changing.
  • Stubborness - We can get pressure from people who don't have food issues, and they point out our bad habits. But we push back because we don't want to be told what to do by them.
  • Propaganda - There are people who push messages on us that are manipulated, false, or have some sort of ulterior motive they are not up front about. This is a tough one to deal with because we don't see it as negative. These messages come across as a positive thing, and that's why it's so insidious. You need to do a lot of digging to even know what's propaganda and what's not, and this can be quite time consuming.
  • Political and Medical Agendas - There are powerful industries who make a lot of money and gain a lot of power by pushing some food agendas. They are never in the interest of the population. These interests are only to benefit themselves, either to gain power and control, or to make a lot of money. Some of these people know they're lying, and many others have bought into this rhetoric and believe that what they push is actually true.

Together these influences shape how we see food. If we can acknowledge that these influences exist, we can begin to try and look at them a bit more dispassionately.

We won't be able to remove all these influences. They're all around us all the time. We just need to make a proactive choice to try and see food differently and figure out how to change our bad relationship with food, or at least with food that's harming us.

How to Change Your Internal Self Talk:

One thing I've done that has been very effective is to literally change my internal "self talk" about food.

Now, when I see food that looks wonderful, I see it as an art piece. I don't see it as delicious, I see it as beautiful, like a beautiful painting, or a nice dress, or a cute stuffed animal. I've put it in the same category in my head as something I wouldn't eat.

How did I do this?

There are 2 steps, that work together.

Step 1:

Pick new words that you'll use when you see food you want to eat. This is a deliberate act, and will feel quite fake at first. You'll need to say it over and over again but eventually it will become the automatic reaction.

Instead of saying things like, "that looks delicious," or "that looks tasty," or "I could eat that!" find new phrases. Such as "that's beautiful," or "what a piece of art." Or any other types of phrases you would use to describe things you think look nice, like flowers, paintings, cute stuffed toys, cars, houses, etc.

If you need to write them down, then do that, so you get used to it.

You can also practice a bit deliberately. Pick a few pictures and look at them and use the new phrases out loud. Do this daily until it starts to sound more natural to you. Don't worry if it takes a while, that's fine.

Step 2:

Find some traits about the foods you really like that are bad. Such as food coloring, or sugar, or highly processed seed oils, or white flour, etc. What you choose to dig into will depend on what your worst foods are.

For example, if the foods that you overeat the most are always loaded with food colorings, then look into that. Normally I recommend that people look at all sides of foods and additives, the good and the bad. But in this case, only look at the negative side. And look at every negative side you can find.

What it will do is color your attitude on those things. Strive to have it color your attitude to the point where you actually don't want to buy or eat those foods because the substance in it is so terrible to eat.

Most of the time, it only takes 2 to 3 things to look into that will affect most of your bad foods.

Putting Food Into Perspective in a New Way:

The 2 above tactics, when done at the same time, can really change how we view food. We start to see food as art, and we reinforce that with info on how unhealthy it is.

Together these 2 things put good looking food into perspective, without becoming too negative. We can enjoy the look of food, and treat it like a painting. We can enjoy looking at it, without wanting to eat it.

We don't need to demonize it, just shift "what" it is. This allows us to still exist in the world, without having to try and avoid every scenario that has food, which is impossible.

It's not food, it's art. We can enjoy it from a different point of view.

Further Learning:

If you're looking to get more insights on how to change your relationship with food, be sure to check out our Kick It Up section, where you'll find lots of articles that will help you do that.

Learn, eat (wisely) and enjoy!

Thora Toft

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