How to Make Peace with Food

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Do you feel peaceful when it comes to the food you eat? Many women don’t. It took me a long time to learn how to make peace with food and it is freeing to not be afraid of or hate food.

Most women do not feel peaceful when they think about food. We often feel guilt, shame, and uncontrollable cravings. But definitely not peace!

It’s an uncomfortable cycle of craving forbidden food yet our eating behavior is one of a deprivation mindset tell us we can’t have that particular food.

Over the years your relationship with food may have become scary, confusing, and hopeless. Don’t despair! Instead, here are 10 ways to make peace with food.

When we don’t have peace around food—we don’t have peace around our very own lives. Let’s face it, we have to eat food and I’ve talked to enough chronic dieters to know that even with the best intentions it’s really difficult to feel self compassion for ourselves.

This obsession with weight and food is one of the biggest sources of negative feelings there is. You don’t need another diet. Diets just keep the problem going and they make the food police living in your head even stronger.

And thinking about your next diet, only fuels poor eating choices in the meantime. We often indulge in last supper overeating to prepare for our next diet. 

If you also want to lose weight, I recommend you read 10 Powerful Tips to Lose Weight and Read This Before Your Next Diet.

What Is the Opposite of Peace with Food?

In talking with women, most have unhealthy relationships with food. They don’t trust their bodies and food is now bad or good.

And despite knowing better, they are overeating the so-called bad foods way more than the good foods and then feeling overwhelming guilt afterwards.

Some of the behaviors I see around food are:

  • Binging on certain foods—often sugary foods
  • Eating several processed foods every day
  • Eating too little healthy fat, too little protein, and too few vegetables
  • Skimping on nutrition 
  • Overeating and then restricting
  • Overeating and then over exercising
  • Eating foods that they know will make them feel “gross”
  • Dreading social events because of the food

On the surface, these all seem like behaviors that you should be able to stop, right? Every one of them feels terrible!

Despite our preoccupation with weight loss, many women find themselves unable to lose weight and this just adds to the overall feeling of being out-of-control and frustration with our eating and food. 

Here’s the thing you have to know.

All these behaviors not only have a physical component, but they also have a mental and an emotional component.

When you try to change the action without addressing your mind and emotions, it can be almost impossible to make permanent change.

Instead, you keep repeating these cycles and keep up your toxic relationship with food.

Picture of woman getting ready to take a bite of salad with the words: How to make peace with food for good

What Does Peace with Food Look Like?

  • You have unconditional permission to eat when you are hungry.
  • There is no forbidden food. 
  • You understand and can feel hunger and fullness cues.
  • If you do overeat, you just move on. It doesn’t wreck your day or week.
  • You eat a variety of foods.
  • You’re not afraid to feel your hunger cues.
  • You trust yourself to eat what you need and have lots of self compassion for yourself!

Learning how to make peace with the food you eat is life changing. We spend way too much valuable time obsessing about the food we eat.

And that obsessing is not getting you the results you want.

10 Ways to Make Peace with Food

Eating food is a natural and necessary part of life. But somehow, eating has become the most unnatural activity ever for a lot of women.

It’s bizarre! Our choices of food are almost unlimited. Restaurants are everywhere. Our stores get bigger and bigger. Even if you just want an apple, there are dozens of types available.

And despite all the choices, and maybe because of them, most women live in a hopeless kind of hell when it comes to food.

We crave food all the time but when we eat something, we hate ourselves.

What could be more hopeless than that? To hate yourself for doing a thing that is absolutely necessary for life.

I want more for you than that. I want you to make peace with food.

You are More than Your Weight

I have the most amazing clients. They are successful, smart, and loving. They take care of their families, do their jobs, and really try to take care of themselves.

Yet, when they can’t control their eating behavior or their weight, they feel miserable. 

They have a belief if they could just lose weight, then their life would be much better. Unfortunately when they can’t fall back on old dieting behaviors because they no longer work, it’s hard to figure out what else to do.

Women are willing to do almost ANYTHING to lose weight. They believe it is the primary thing standing between them and their ideal life.

But your weight actually has nothing to do with how you feel about your life. And hating yourself because of your weight is damaging to your efforts to lose weight.

So, before you can heal your body and lose weight, you have to start with an intention to love your body and to make peace with food.

Below, I’m going to share 10 ways to begin making peace with your food. It’s a process and it won’t happen overnight. This is how I healed my relationship with food and it can get you started in that direction.

10 Ways to Make Peace with Food

Eat when you are hungry

Your body comes with this amazing mechanism that will tell you when it’s time to eat. It’s called hunger and your hunger cues are very important to understand.

One of the very first commitments you can make to yourself is to not eat until you ARE hungry and to allow yourself to eat when you do feel hungry.

I’m not talking about intense hunger. What I recommend is waiting until you feel a certain amount of hunger before you eat. This is your signal from your body that it is ready to handle more food.

Be patient with yourself. These signals may be rusty from not being used as a basis for eating. Often women tell me that they don’t feel hungry.

If we eat around the clock, not letting ourselves get hungry, we may not have the most sensitive hunger cues. 

Often we want to eat because of other reasons such as boredom or loneliness. But paying attention to true hunger is one of the most powerful things you can do to make peace with food.

Our bodies are used to ether being deprived or used to getting lots of carbs all day long. In the end, we just don’t feel or interpret our body signals effectively anymore. 

Think about it. From the time we were a kid, we were taught to eat on a schedule. Seriously, around noon, I often think “lunch” whether I am hungry or not.

We also eat for entertainment, when we’re bored, when we’re celebrating, or in response to cravings.

Using your hunger as a guide to when to eat is one of the most helpful things you can do to make peace with food. It tells your body that you care about it!

For years, maybe decades, you’ve been denying your hunger in diets and eating on schedules that have nothing to do with your own hunger. Or you overeat because you want to get it in before you start your diet.

And diets have taught you that you have to be uncomfortable to lose weight. You have to deny this part of yourself to look a certain way.

Diets also teach you to disregard your hunger and what your body is saying it needs. It says eat by the clock or eat this many calories or points a day. Or eat these specific foods in this quantity.

Well guess what? Everyone is different and only YOUR body knows what you need and when.

Anyone else is telling you a lie.

Promise yourself and your body that you will give it some food when you are hungry.

This builds trust with your body and peace with food!

Stop eating when you are full

To be truthful, this is a little bit more difficult than waiting to eat until you are hungry. So, don’t beat yourself up about this at all.

This will be a process. At first you will want to overeat. That’s very normal. When something tastes really good; often we want to keep on eating it.

Sometimes there is some mind-drama around your plate of food. Even though you probably have plenty of food in the house, there’s something that prompts us to eat this meal like it’s our last.

It’s really helpful to remind yourself that you are not on a diet. You can eat until you’ve had enough. And you can eat when you are hungry.

Here’s how to do it. Pay attention to how full you are. When you’ve finished half your food, pause and check in with your body. Ask yourself if you’ve had enough. If you haven’t, eat some more.

Take your time and enjoy your food.

If you overeat some, don’t make it a big deal. You are learning to listen to your body and trust its signals. If you haven’t done this, it will feel weird at first.

If you keep practicing, you’ll learn to trust your body and its signals. I have clients that have lost weight, doing these first two things.

Plan your food ahead of time

In the morning or the night before, think about the day ahead and plan your upcoming meals.

This is helpful because it removes some stress and decision making ahead of time. You plan for meals made up of food you like. If you are going out, plan for it. If you are going to have ice-cream for dessert, put it on your plan.

Plan for enough food for the day and plan foods you enjoy.

Then stick to the plan.

This helps you learn to not eat on impulse. You can have anything you want but you need to plan for it.

Then when you are tempted to eat some crap, you can tell yourself, “I didn’t plan for that.” Of course, you could plan for it the next day if you want. But usually after the urge to eat something has passed, you don’t really want it the next day.

Never restrict in response to over-eating

Does this sound familiar? You binge or overeat, and you feel horrible. Your temptation is to restrict your eating severely the next day.

You want to punish yourself for having too much to eat. You not only feel terrible physically, but you are angry with yourself.

Often, we want to starve ourselves the next day to make up for a binge or overeating something.

This just keeps the cycle of overeating and restricting going.

Restricting in response to overeating is being to yourself. Instead of restricting, plan to set yourself up for success. Plan your meals. Did you eat something the day before that created a craving? Did you not eat enough at the meal before? Are you getting enough healthy fats?

You can use your food journal to look at the data and use that data to make food plans that work for YOU.

Change your self-talk

My friends, the way you talk to yourself around food and your body is tragic.

The way you talk to yourself probably feels so normal that you don’t even realize how bad it is. And I’m here to tell you, IT DOES NOT WORK to help you lose weight.

Here are ways that you might be sabotaging yourself by the way you talk to yourself.

  • Saying things like, “I’m never….” or “I always…” This is all or nothing thinking and it’s usually not even true.
  • Comparing yourself to others.
  • Using terms like good or bad about food or your body.
  • Saying anything mean or cruel about yourself to yourself or others.
  • Telling yourself that you must eat something or that you can’t resist it. Or saying you can’t stop yourself.
  • Making excuses about why you can’t control your eating.

These are all ways we use our words in ways that affect how we eat. We also use our words to affect how we feel.

Have you ever said any of these things to yourself?

  • I’m such a loser.
  • I’ll never lose weight.
  • I hate looking at myself in the mirror or in pictures.
  • I’m ugly.
  • I’m hideous.
  • I’m gross.

These are all things women have told me they say to themselves.

Just because you think it does not make it true. You are not a loser. You are not ugly. And you are not gross.

You wouldn’t say any of these things to someone you loved, would you? You know how hurtful that would be to someone else.

Well it is just as hurtful to you when you say it to you.

You think it’s going to motivate you to shape up. It never does. It leads to feeling ugly and gross and that does not lead to finding peace with food.

Pay attention to what you say to yourself. Be kind and compassionate as you start to tune into your self-talk. You might be shocked at what you think sometimes.

Make realistic weekly goals

Usually when you try to lose weight, you come up with a weight goal, such as I’m going to lose this many pounds or I’m going to weigh this number.

It’s fine to have a general overall goal. But our bodies lose weight in their own way, at their own speeds. It’s really hard to regulate that.

You can however, set up goals that are 100% under your control. I have my clients create a goal each week and they stick with it until they master it and it becomes their new normal.

I promise you, even if you currently eat junk around the clock, by incrementally setting goals and working towards them, you can totally change your relationship with food.

Here are some goals my clients set. Remember, they aren’t doing all of these at once and everyone doesn’t do all of them. These are in no special order. I have my clients pick the easiest change first or one that will help them be more successful overall.

Each week we evaluate how it went and once they feel confident, we choose a new goal to work on.

These are some suggestions as you look at your current eating.

  • Eliminate snack at night
  • Eliminate snack during the day
  • No processed foods at one meal
  • Skip the treats at the coffee shop where you stop on the way to work
  • Add one tablespoon of healthy fat to each meal
  • No processed foods at a second meal
  • Add more vegetables to a meal
  • Eat a real meal, not snacks

These may or may not apply to you but it will help you evaluate your own eating and how you might want to make small adjustments.

Move to feel better not to lose weight

Exercise should not be punishment for overeating. Exercise does not have to be painful or something to dread.

Exercising is good for you! That’s no secret. Here is a little secret. Exercise can be pleasurable and something to look forward to.

I find that moving my body in ways that support my balance, strength, and flexibility make me feel good overall. Being fit helps me feel more confident and comfortable in my body.

When I exercise according to what I like and what feels good, my body feels so good. My body doesn’t need to look like a certain way for me to feel good in it.

Exercise helps you get to know your body better and that is really what all of this is about. Getting to know your body and its signals.

There can be a temptation to think you have to exercise hard. You don’t. Find the gentlest easiest exercises to get started. I like a brisk workout sometimes, but I also love gentle flowing ones.

Journal your food

For a week or two, just write down the food you eat. Don’t try and diet or change it. Really, simply write down what you eat every day.

Most diets have you changing how you eat without looking at what you really eat. You are probably already doing some healthy eating.

So, instead of throwing it all out, you’ll be making gradual changes.

After a week or so, decide on a change you want to work on. Then plan your meals each day incorporating that one change.

Write down any notes about how you feel during the day.

These journal entries are going to be a record of your journey and all the changes you make. If you find yourself wanting to overeat at night, you can look at your dinners and see if you need to add some food.

If you find yourself not losing, you might look at what you are eating. Did you eat out a lot or eat a lot of processed food.

I know, you probably don’t think you need to write it down. If you don’t want to create a sustainable way to eat, then you can skip this.

But this process is so helpful and makes a huge difference.

Use your scale for information

Yes, you probably hate your scale because of the numbers you see on it.

Yet, the scale can be a useful tool to get data.

What you weigh is only a number. It doesn’t say anything about you as a person. It’s just one facet of your body. What you weigh.

Yet, we give this number so much power! It has the power to make or break our day. It has the power to tell us we can eat more or that we need to restrict.

I want you to take back your power!

That’s why you plan your food. So, that what you eat in a day has nothing to do with what you weigh.

I recommend weighing yourself once a week, jotting down the number, and getting on with your life.

The reason you want to make peace with food is so you can get on with your life. You don’t have to wait until you weigh a certain number.

Celebrate your successes

Women always want to skip this part, especially if they don’t see a number on the scale they like.

Yet, you absolutely will get better results if you celebrate as many successes and wins as you can.

What are successes? Here are some from my clients’ journals.

  • Ate only what was on my plan
  • Didn’t eat after dinner any time this week
  • Went out to dinner and only ate half
  • Walked five days this week
  • Didn’t eat any processed food at lunch
  • No takeout this week
  • Wrote in my journal every day
  • Practiced affirmations

These are big wins my friends! Noticing and giving yourself tons of credit will be more effective than criticizing or beating yourself up.

When you choose to make peace with food, you are also making peace with yourself. In this place of peace, confidence, and curiosity, you begin to create a new relationship with food.

Picture of woman eating with the words, how to make peace with food

How to Make Peace with Food

Making peace with food is not an overnight process, no matter how dedicated or committed you are.

It can be tedious, boring, and frustrating.

Most of us have been dieting for 30 or 40 years or more. We have learned to distrust food and our bodies. We think some foods are bad and some are good.

We are used to saying horrible things to ourselves in response to what we eat. We dread social occasions because of the temptations.

By finding peace with food—you find peace with yourself, others, and your life.

Instead of a roller coaster of ups and downs, you provide steady energy for your body and this fuels your life in a brand new way.

I hope this helps you find some peace with food soon.

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Keep showing up my friends,

Sara

Sara

I'm a certified life and weight loss coach who helps women feel better and get the most out of their lives! The process of life coaching teaches you to love yourself and gain self confidence in a safe effective way.

Ready to find out more?

Schedule a free consultation today.

2 Comments

  1. David Hamilton on April 13, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    Very informative article, however just like about 99% of the material published on emotional eating men are totally ignored! When you look at organizations like BEDA, they estimate that at least 40% of emotional/compulsive/binge eating is done by men. I’m very disappointed that this article wasn’t at least gender neutral. It may seem like a little thing however it could welcome more men into your practice. Just a thought!

    • Sara on April 14, 2023 at 11:11 am

      Hi David–thanks for your feedback. I’m a woman and I work with women–that is my target audience. My experience with life coaching is 100% working with women and hearing their stories. So while I could change my wording from “women” to “people,” it doesn’t express my true lived experience of who I have talked with or heard from in emails. Thank you for sharing that many men also experience emotional eating. I really appreciate your message. Sara

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Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! Big changes can happen with a shift in thinking. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life and weight loss coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.