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How to improve your relationship with food

Robbie Puddick
Written by

Robbie Puddick

Medically reviewed by

Fiona Moncrieff

3 min read
Last updated April 2024

Jump to: Ditch the labels | Stop counting calories | Eat mindfully | Take home message

The oversimplification of weight loss as a simple equation of calories in VS calories out has fuelled a generation of misinformation and poor advice to simply “eat less, move more”. This messaging, inaccuracies aside, has also driven a misconception that health can only be achieved when we reach a ‘healthy’ weight.

This culture has led to a society primarily driven by numbers. People regularly count calories or macros, weigh food, and jump on the scales at every opportunity to see if they’ve budged. Unfortunately, this has led us to a point where no one trusts themselves or the food they’re eating to provide them with the nourishment they need.

However, based on the latest scientific evidence in nutrition and psychology, we’ve put together three practical steps you can take to build a more positive relationship with food.

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Three ways to improve your relationship with food

1) Ditch the labels

Identifying foods as ‘good’, ‘bad’, or ‘naughty’ can trigger an emotional response which can impact how you approach food in the long term. By ditching the labels, you can start to look at food more holistically and incorporate all foods into your diet without guilt, shame, or regret.

The next time you find yourself labelling a food as good or bad, consider the following reflection:

“All food can be included as a healthy, balanced diet. I’m allowed to enjoy a takeaway on a Friday night or a bar of chocolate on a weekday. I can then look forward to eating a healthy meal at my next opportunity.”

Click here to watch a webinar from our health coaches, Natasha and Marielle, as they delve into the diet culture and strategies to help you ditch the labels.

2) Stop counting calories

Putting numbers on food dissociates the experience of how that food will make you feel. People think low-calorie foods are good, but they inherently leave you hungry because you’re not giving your body enough nourishment, and you end up eating more to satisfy your hunger.

Interestingly, research has shown that people who count calories and are more restrictive in their approach to food are more likely to experience weight fluctuations and have a higher BMI than those who allow for more flexibility.

There are also good human intervention trials showing that you can lose more weight without counting calories.

Find an NHS-backed meal plan here if you’d like to see how you can lose weight without counting calories.

3) Eat mindfully

Years of calorie counting can leave you unsure of how to measure your intake without the calories to guide you; this is where mindful eating can make a positive difference.

Mindful eating can train you to listen to your physical and psychological cues of hunger, helping you eat less over time. It’s also been shown to increase food enjoyment as you start savouring different foods’ flavours rather than worrying about their calorie content.

If you’re keen to learn more about how to eat mindfully, find our guide on how to eat mindfully here.

At Second Nature, we don’t count calories, restrict entire food groups, or recommend a diet that’s best for everyone. You work directly with a registered dietitian and nutritionist to improve your relationship with food.

You could join over 150,000 people like Jo, who’ve ditched calorie counting and found food freedom to lose weight and improve their health for good. All you’d need to do to start is click here to take our health quiz.

Take home message

The diet industry has profited from an approach to weight loss that’s inherently flawed and destined to fail. Strict dieting and calorie counting can promote short-term weight loss, but how does it teach you to live sustainably in the long term?

We prefer to look to promote a positive message: you can achieve weight loss and good health without counting calories, labelling foods as good or bad, or using strict dieting approaches.

By following our three tips above, you might achieve a more positive relationship with food and achieve good health for the long term, not just your next summer holiday.

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