10 Signs You Have an Unhealthy Relationship With Food

We all know that unhealthy relationships have a negative affect on both your mental and physical health. Toxic relationships can leave you feeling helpless, unfulfilled and depressed, along with lowering your self-esteem and making you feel insecure. And no matter how hard you may try, there’s no getting past the fact that the relationship is sapping your emotional health.

But I’m not just talking about relationships with people. Your relationship with food can also have the potential to be detrimental to your mental and physical health and derail your weight loss efforts.

10 Signs Of An Unhealthy Relationship With Food

Here Are 10 Signs That You Might Have an Unhealthy Relationship With Food

1. You Think About Food Constantly

If thoughts of food consume your mind and interfere with your daily life, you may have an unhealthy relationship with food.

To be clear – we’re not talking about looking forward to a tasty dinner you’re planning to prepare or thinking what restaurant meal you’re going to choose on the weekend. It’s when you start to obsess over food and find it hard to think about anything else that it can indicate a problem.

2. You Prefer To Eat In Private

If you can’t eat around others without feeling self-conscious or worried about what they may think of your food choices, you may have an unhealthy relationship with food.

3. You Suffer From Food Guilt

There is no reason you should spend hours beating yourself up for having a second slice of cake or eating an extra breadstick. If you are spending more time mentally beating yourself up for eating something than you spent enjoying it, you are suffering from food guilt.

4. You Deny Yourself The Foods You Crave

A healthy relationship with foods means that you know what you want as well as what you need in your diet. It also means that you accommodate both your wants and your needs. Often cravings are our body’s way of telling us we are lacking something in our diets.

By denying yourself every single time you crave something, you’re also more likely to eventually go on a massive food binge.

5. You Cut Out Entire Food Groups

Healthy eating is all about balance. Rigid perfectionism in your diet is a precursor for disordered eating and a definite warning sign to an unhealthy relationship with food.

An example of this is the low-carb diet that is currently very popular. There’s a big difference between “low-carb” and “no-carb.” Our bodies need carbohydrates to function, so cutting them out entirely is a recipe for disaster.

6. You Obsess Over Calories

Counting calories can be an effective way to lose weight, if you set realistic goals and acknowledge that you can’t be 100% perfect 100% of the time.

If your current calorie goal is 1700 calories/day and you obsess over every last calorie, weighing and counting everything and feeling anxious over the thought of going even the slightest bit over your calorie goal, then you may have an unhealthy relationship with food.

7. Your Emotions Control Your Eating Habits

If you eat to procrastinate, to entertain yourself, to reward yourself, or to console yourself, you are allowing your emotions to control your eating habits. Instead, you should be listening to your body and recognizing hunger cues.

8. You Are Controlled By Food “Rules”

There are no hard and fast rules that you need to follow in order to lose, maintain, or gain weight. If your mind is more concerned with following unnecessary rules when it comes to food instead of listening to your body, chances are, you need to evaluate your relationship with food.

Ask 100 people who have successfully lost or gained weight how they did it, you’ll get 100 different answers. Even if two people lost weight by following the Weight Watchers plan, that doesn’t mean their meals, calorie intake and exercise schedule were exactly the same.

9. You Punish Yourself For Breaking Your Food Rules

Choosing to eat a salad for lunch because you know you are going out for pizza for dinner is called balance. Going on a week-long juice cleanse because you ate three slices instead of two is a sign that you need to evaluate your relationship with food.

10. You Don’t Eat to Nourish Your Body

Eating should be enjoyable, but your main gain should be to nourish your body. When you prepare a meal, do you take the time to evaluate if the ingredients nourish your body or is your only concern whether the food tastes good or not?

If you don’t put any thought into the nutrients your food contains, then you may have an unhealthy relationship with food.

What Should You Do If You Have an Unhealthy Relationship With Food?

If you’ve read through these 10 signs and feel like your relationship with food is unhealthy, you might be wondering what the next steps are.

When your negative relationship with food affects your quality of life, it might be time to consider speaking with a therapist or doctor and working through the reasons you have the relationship with food that you currently do.

10 Signs You Have an Unhealthy Relationship With Food


I'm a fitness fanatic and mom of one. I'm a qualified personal trainer, certified health coach, weight management consultant and yoga teacher. I love hiking, swimming, yoga, being outdoors and spending time with my family.

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