Are 'food rules' ruling your life?

One of the biggest struggles these days is food. How did it happen? There was a time that eating was simply for survival, but now there is every type of food that you can think of at our disposal at any time.  It’s different food as well, growing up you knew what was in your food. Now with the pressure of large companies to cut costs and increase profits food additives and alternatives have become the norm no matter the harm it does to our health.

The biggest different between food and smoking, for instance, is that you don’t need to smoke.  All the pressures around food can create food anxiety which can lead to eating disorders.

A clinical psychologist from the University of Canberra, Vivienne Lewis told The Huffington Post“Eating is part of our lives and everything we do day-to-day. But when it becomes obsessive, negative or causes us anxiety, that’s when there’s an issue”. She added, “It goes from instinctual eating because you’re hungry, to ‘Oh God, I shouldn’t have eaten that’.”

Most doctors will tell you that variety is the spice of life and that no food is really off limits.  “Everything in moderation” is a great term. However, people trying to protect themselves from unhealthy lifestyles can actually end up hurting their health anyway due to being too strict with their rules. According to experts, what could start out as food avoidance, could end up being a disorder. As fitness expert, Mark Sisson wrote on his blog, “We’re fed contradictory studies, warned of the latest threats lurking in our food supply, told every bite squashes the life out of another ecosystem, and led through fluorescent-lit warehouses filled with more food options and label claims than one person should ever be reasonably expected to handle. It’s exhausting, frustrating and on certain days defeating.”

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What can you do when it seems like food is overtaking your life? The first step all experts say is to relax. If you have a “bad eating” day, you can always make corrections the next day.

There is no meal that will ever be perfect, the unneeded stress trying to make it so will only make you frustrated or suffering from in a “shame cycle.” A good rule, or a healthier rule, is the 80/20 rule.  Eat the best you can 80 per cent of the time and be a lot more forgiving 20 per cent of the time.

If you do have a “big one” it’s important not to make a big deal about it as tomorrow is another day, and you can always have an 80 per cent day the next day. As Mr Sisson states, “Cheats (if we’re going to call them that) aren’t catastrophic. Long-term, repetitive behaviors are.”

Suffering from food anxiety isn’t easy, but there is help.  A GP can give you a referral to an expert that can treat these conditions with cognitive behaviour therapy.  Left untreated food anxieties are only going to make you unhealthy and life not that much fun.

Have you dealt with food anxieties?  What advice would you give to those going through it now?