It's pretty common for a change in diet to be motivated by a change in appearance. We all know people who cut down their carbohydrate intake to slim down, or increase their protein intake to bulk up. However, I first realized that I needed to take a critical eye on my diet not because I was unhappy with my appearance, but when I noticed that I really didn't know how to feed myself outside of my parents kitchen

Sometimes it can feel like everywhere you turn, someone is telling you how to eat. Whether it is a new nutrition trend, crash diet, or body maintenance fad, it seems that everyone had two cents to contribute to the way that food should be eaten.  

With all of this white noise, I started to recognize that my relationship with food wasn't my own. The way that I was eating wasn't driven by my own body, but rather a dialogue that I didn't create. I started to notice that food was affecting my life in ways that I didn't want it to, so I took the initiative to make a change.

Developing a healthier relationship with food was no small feat, and is definitely a process that I am still in the thick of. But seeing the changes that have come in my life just from the progress I have made has been major. Here are some of the steps I took to work on my relationship with food. 

1. I switched my mindset 

I first started to make progress in my relationship with food when I recognized that a lot of my unhealthy food habits came from a mental space. I wasn't viewing food as fuel for my body, and therefore I wasn't fueling my body correctly. 

For a while I had to really work to ask myself what would fuel my body every time I ate. Sometimes the answer would be a kale salad, sometimes a bowl of popcorn, and sometimes I came to realize that I didn't need food in that moment at all. Overtime, listening to my body became second nature.

2. I took food pressure out of social settings

A great way to see busy friends is to eat a meal with them. However, I noticed that a lot of my unnecessary eating started when I was eating in a social setting. Taking control of the situation and recognizing that it is totally fine to just order a small plate, take something to go, or even just order a beverage when socializing over food was a real game changer in intuitive eating. 

3. I stopped categorizing foods as 'healthy' and 'unhealthy'

Food is dynamic, and nutritional contents can be complex, which is why it was so important to me to take away the labels of 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' for foods. Instead, I worked  towards eating balanced meals that were low in chemicals and high in plants.

4. I set myself up for success

You can't eat something if you don't have it, so I worked mindfully to purchase food that I knew would set me up for a week of successful eating. Once I started buying healthy foods that I love eating, and some indulgent treats that don't border into gluttony, I took all of the work out of eating well. Yes, it takes a little bit of planning, but it was so worth it

My diet is far from perfect, and I do recognize that sometimes I slip into bad habits. However, the steps that I have taken thus far to improve my eating habits have improved my quality of life in notable ways. Overall, 10/10 would recommend giving yourself some couples counseling with food.