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Fostering a positive relationship with food is worth the effort

Fostering a positive relationship with food is worth the effort

Fostering a positive relationship with food is worth the effort
September 17
12:00 2022

Content Warning: The following story contains language related to eating disorders.

The college lifestyle has always forced students to approach food in a grab-and-go manner. Everything moves way too quickly, and there’s little time to sit down and eat an actual meal. Because of the minimal time presented to students, many opt to pull out a device and watch their favorite YouTube videos or television shows while eating.

We have all done it, and on the surface level, it seems rather harmless. The truth is, these habits we intertwine with food relationships are the exact opposite.

The worst thing about eating disorders is how many different ways they can affect someone. It is unfortunate losing weight is always looked at as a positive thing, even if someone lost said weight in the unhealthiest way possible.

When I started my college experience, I was coming off a weight loss of over 100 pounds. Everyone, from friends to family members, would have nothing but nice things to say about how I looked. It was a vacant validation I had dreamed of having for so many years.

Initially, the compliments were so meaningful to me — I could overlook the terrible journey that got me to where I was. It wasn’t too much longer until those same family members and friends noticed I was losing too much weight. What I didn’t realize until later was how versatile eating disorders could be.

Eating multiple times would be a normal part of my day, but I had to have something in front of me to distract myself while I ate. It came in the form of watching videos on my phone, and I would use the videos to take my mind off of what I was eating. Sure, I was picking out my own food, but as soon as it was time to eat, I wouldn’t even focus on what everything tasted like.

It didn’t help that I was limited in eating time — breaks at work and time between classes provided little to no stretch to actually sit down and enjoy what I was eating. If you are eating food, you want to actually enjoy it and not view it as another task to complete as you go about your day.

Finding a balance or restoring a damaged relationship with eating relies on one thing: your personal comfort and needs. There’s no one answer to this issue, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Appreciate those moments throughout the day when you do get to eat, giving yourself energy and keeping you going.

Especially if you are working against a pressing schedule, those sparse moments where you get to sit down and refuel should be positive. College is hard enough as it is, so don’t punish yourself for eating foods you find comfort in.

A wonderful article from Healthline talks about something called mindful eating. Eating mindfully involves genuinely appreciating the time you have with your meal and being fully present when it comes to eating. It helps avoid undereating and overeating, and at the very least helps you discover how awesome food is.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 9 percent of Americans suffer from eating disorders — almost 30 million people. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 10 to 20 percent of female college students and 4 to 10 percent of male college students suffer from eating disorders.

So many people are in this fight, and many of those people may not even be aware that they’re fighting. So many aspects of life require planning and organization in order for things to work out. Having a healthy relationship with food is all about listening to your body and approaching eating in a way that is comfortable to you.

Alsana provides numerous resources for eating disorder treatment. If you feel like you or someone you care about is suffering from something like an eating disorder, approach it with tenderness and care. Everyone deserves to appreciate food and what it does for them. 

No one decides what you eat except for you, and listening to what your body wants is more important than anything. Some people choose to eat at scheduled times during the day, but nothing will repair a broken relationship with food more than listening and caring for yourself. Whether you are recovering from an eating disorder with giant leaps or baby steps, you can do it. You got this.

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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