13 Signs You Have A Complicated Relationship With Food

“It’s complicated.” If that’s how you feel about your relationship with food, then that’s a problem. Having a bad relationship with food can be mentally taxing and make you lack nutrition. In severe cases, it could lead to eating disorders. Here are 13 signs you have a bad relationship with food that needs fixing.

  1. You eat alone. While there’s nothing wrong with sneaking a chocolate slab when your partner’s already gone to bed or wolfing down a burger while you’re alone in the car, if you regularly choose to eat alone, that’s a red flag. Something else could be going on, like a fear that you’ll be judged according to what you eat or a fear that you’re not perfect.
  2. You beat yourself up about what you ate. Whenever you indulge in yummy food, you can’t help wolfing down a side-order of guilt too. After eating an extra 50 or 100 calories, you’ll feel like a useless, worthless person. Yikes. That’s a bad sign that you have a destructive, potentially dangerous relationship with food.
  3. You hit the gym after meals. If you do indulge, you like to jump onto the treadmill or air bike immediately to work off the calories. While that might seem like a good idea, if you always do this, it shows that you’re terrified of piling on the pounds and it’s starting to rule your life.
  4. You swallow down your cravings. If you view your food cravings as being a sign of weakness that you have to push through and avoid, you could be following a very strict and unhealthy diet. Sometimes those cravings are trying to tell you something, like that you’re not eating enough food.
  5. You reach for food when you’re down. While it’s totally normal to reach for a delicious snack or comfort food when you’re having a bad day, it becomes a problem if you’re doing this regularly. It’s a sign of emotional eating, as though you’re trying to avoid your feelings or fill up the emptiness you feel.
  6. You’re downing toxic diet pills. Diet pills are always a no-no because they’re so unhealthy. If you don’t care about what they’re doing to your body, that’s a real worry. You’d rather risk your health to lose weight, which means you’re making weight-loss a priority, even over your well-being. You’re defining yourself according to your weight, but you’re so much more than that.
  7. You’re inflexible about food. No matter how much of a healthy diet you follow, it becomes unhealthy if you’re not flexible. A healthy diet will sometimes include junk food or foods that aren’t allowed on your list. For example, if you go to a friend’s birthday party and you eat chocolate cake. NBD, right? However, if you’re so inflexible about food that you would rather die than tweak your diet from time to time, that’s a problem. You’re being way too hard on yourself.
  8. You only eat diet foods. If you only eat diet foods, ask yourself why. Are you terrified of eating unhealthy foods and putting on weight? Restricting your diet in such an extreme way can foster food anxieties, make you lack nutrition, and even lead to eating disorders.
  9. You’re always talking about food. If you can’t help but dominate conversations with friends by making the subject about food and calories, you might be a little too preoccupied with food. If it’s always on your mind, it’s going to end up being something you speak about a lot – and cause food to be something you worry about.
  10. You use food as a reward or punishment. If you’ve achieved your weight-loss goal, you reward yourself with your favorite food. Same goes for when you’ve had a gym session. On the other hand, you’ll punish yourself by not eating any of your favorite foods if you don’t like the way your body’s looking or you haven’t been to the gym in a few days. Food is about nourishing your body so that you can be healthy and live life with lots of energy. It’s not something you should earn.
  11. You avoid eating out at restaurants. If you hate eating at restaurants because you worry about the food and what’s in it, or you fear you won’t be able to find something you want to eat because your diet rules are so restrictive, this points to a food anxiety.
  12. You’re married to your scale. If you weigh yourself on a daily basis because you have to know how much weight you’re putting on or losing, you could be a little too worried about food and your body than is considered healthy. This is especially something to consider if the number on the scale can upset you to the point where it wrecks your entire day or makes you go on a severely restrictive diet.
  13. You eat all the “bad” food in the house. You’re so restrictive with your diet that the minute you find yourself around foods you love, such as cakes, chocolates, or pizza, you can’t help but overindulge. This is a clear sign that your diet is too extreme and needs to have more balance.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.