WIAW #21: Building a Healthier Relationship with Food

It has been a while since I joined a WIAW link up. I missed it. If you’re totally lost, you can find out more about this fantastic link up right here.

WIAW+tagLast week, I started writing a post about diet and negative body image talk. Basically, it’s the kind of dialogue that includes guilty food comments people make as they eat another piece of dessert or take a second helping. It’s also labeling foods as “good” and “bad” or thinking that eating extra food requires compensation with extra exercise. It’s saying, “Oh no, I would love another piece of bread, but I shouldn’t. It’ll go straight to my hips.” This kind of dialogue is incredibly annoying and frustrating, especially to someone recovering from an eating disorder, but it also sucks the pleasure out of eating good food. It fosters an unhealthy relationship with food.

The post morphed into a rant, and although rants are cathartic, they’re not always very compelling. Me typing furiously about how much I hate listening to diet talk will at best sound hysterical and at worst make you close your tab. That would be sad. Please don’t leave just yet. Perhaps a better way to address it is to dig a little deeper, try to understand where it comes from and how to respond when you’re face to face with it.

|breakfast: zucchini pancakes + almond butter + strawberries|20170606_080220-2I think one of the most important things to realize about negative body image and diet talk is that it often stems from insecurity. When I remind myself of this, I can be compassionate, instead of just annoyed, because I can empathize with feeling insecure. Everyone has felt insecure about his/her body at one time. We can’t change people’s perception of themselves, but we can support them, love them, and assure them they do not have to be insecure about their body, where ever they are on their health journey. Joyce has been blogging recently about the Health at Every Size movement. I’m still learning about it, but it sounds like a really beautiful, important movement to embrace.

|lunch: salad + brown rice and a veggie burger|20170606_121317-1We can change the conversation too. Ask the person about their job or family or how their week went. Try to do it gently and without being weirdly abrupt. If that doesn’t seem appropriate for the situation, just talk through it. If the person is feeling guilty about overindulging, or maybe just indulging, remind him/her that our bodies need cake just as much as they need kale. If you’re not comfortable with speaking to the person, then don’t. That’s okay too.

|snackage: an orange + crackers + dates and almond butter|20170606_144159-1It’s ingrained in our culture, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s where you come in. You get to decide how you speak about and view food. That should feel empowering! We do live in a diet, image obsessed world, but that food culture is only inherited when people perpetuate the mindset and dialogue. It changes when we decide to change.

|dinner: toast + broccoli with nutritional yeast|20170606_184309-1Food should be fun. When we worry about how it will make us look vs. how it will make us feel, we give it too much power. I mostly eat lots of plant food because that makes my body feel energized and vibrant. I also eat ice cream and croissants and cheesecake because those foods make me appreciate food creativity…and sugar. Sugar is tasty.

|more snackage: chocolate + almond butter|20160801_204140We build a healthier relationship with food by changing the way we talk about it and encouraging other people to change the way they talk about it too.

Food is vital.

Food is cultural.

Food is art.

And in case you need the reminder, don’t worry so much, about food, about your size, about all the little things that seem really important. In the grand scheme of things, they aren’t actually that important. Take of yourself. But don’t stress about taking care of yourself.

Many thanks to Laura, Arman, and Jenn for running the WIAW show. 

So tell me…

Does diet talk bother you?

How do you think we can build a healthier relationship with food?

Tell me something yummy you ate this week. 


14 thoughts on “WIAW #21: Building a Healthier Relationship with Food

  1. I used to obsess over calories and fat. Now I care so much more about what’s IN my food and ear real food. I do always like treating myself and giving into cravings though but I know after indulging a bit my body won’t feel the greatest, so I don’t do it too often. It’s all about listening to your body!


  2. Changing the conversation as soon as it comes up is an excellent tip. I definitely just either ignore or politely smile away a comment about food/calories/body when someone makes one. I tend to not say anything, not good or bad or disputing, I just let it go. My hope with this is that if people begin getting less and less of a response – at all – they will learn that it is just something people are not interested in anymore. Like a young child who stops getting attention for something they do… ya know? I can only hope.
    It still hurts me sometimes to hear the comments people make, but I’m happy to be in the place where I can refute them and take an even bigger bite of my muffin to drown it out.


  3. Yes–I’m so tired of diet talk. Once I realized that eating was a way of fueling and also a way to ENJOY my life got so much simpler and so much better!


  4. I love this Evangeline; I love your encouragement to change the conversation instead of letting diet talk continue. I can often be way too quick to judge instead of graciously and lovingly changing the conversation; I’m thankful that God so graciously and longsufferingly brought me through an ED because that really helped me understand more and more people’s struggles with body image and the diet culture.

    And your eats look delicious as always Vangie!

    Something yummy I ate this week. I actually ate this big yogurt bowl yesterday that was amazing as well as a really fluffy cupcake with whipped cream frosting that were quite memorable.


  5. Diet talk is so discouraging. It makes me really angry in a way that’s not productive. It just makes me want to throw stuff. I really appreciate your point about how, as folks with disordered eating in our pasts, we don’t have to directly engage with diet talk. I almost always try to steer the conversation, stay silent, or just get up and walk away.
    Thanks for sharing my most recent post. I think it’s important for folks to know about Health at Every Size, even if they have some concerns about it, because it helps us think critically about how often our society talks about “health” and “thinness” as though they’re one and the same.


    1. Agreed. I end up feeling the same way. It’s frustrating. Some times walking away is the best thing to do, especially when the response is unproductive anger, like you said.

      Absolutely! I’m really excited to learn more about it. Our culture needs to rethink the way we talk about, view, and care for “health,” and Health at Every Size seems like it’s moving us in the right direction.


  6. I love this so much girl. As someone who is now working in the fitness industry I can honestly say that I DREAD when my clients ask me what to do about their diet. The first thing they always say is that they cut carbs, or don’t eat sugar, or gave up peanut butter – it’s all about the things they GAVE UP. And I always ask them – do you feel healthier without those things? Do you see yourself mantaining this lifestyle and not feeling deprived? They just kind of quirk an eyebrow up at me like I just asked them a riddle.
    Though I do realize that some people honestly need to lose weight to better their health, I think that the “diet talk” does nothing but get in the way of their ultimate goal – better health.


    1. Yes, yes, yes. Ooh that must be frustrating to have clients coming to you with self procured knowledge about wellness, especially when it hurts them in the long run. And they get frustrated when they “fall off” a wagon they probably shouldn’t have been on in the first place.

      Thanks for pointing that out. Our ultimate goal IS better health. Why does that seem so hard to grasp? That’s a legitimate question though. I know it’s hard because I struggle with it too 🙂


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