20 Signs You Have a Horrible Relationship with Food

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.


When it comes to relationships, unhealthy relationships can leave you unfulfilled and dissatisfied. Try as you may to “make it work”, there’s no getting around the life-suck any relationship can cause in your life if it is unhealthy (i.e. lack of communication; lack of thoughtfulness for the other; etc.).


Similarly, your relationship with food can be just as toxic if you have an unhealthy relationship with your food, your body, and even your fitness.


Here are some signs you may have an unhealthy relationship with food and may need to think about re-evaluating negative behaviors or mindsets into more positive ones:


  • Rules dominate your mind. “You can only eat fruit in the morning.” “Nothing after 10 p.m.” “If it so much as touches anything with gluten, it’s unhealthy.”


  • You cut your body down based on what you eat (or don’t eat). “You are what you eat”—therefore if you ate carbs last night with your dinner, surely that’s why you feel thicker than usual. Or your abs are directly attributed to your ‘self-control’ with the nutbutter—lay off of it for a bit and perhaps you’d see some results. Etc. You are your own worst critic—and your body is directly coorelated to your food.


  • You prefer to eat alone. Not because you brought your own lunch or you don’t like to be social, but because you feel self-conscious when eating around others.



  • You think about food—all the time. When’s the next meal or snack? What are you going to have for it? You are going out of town—what are you going to eat there?


  • You are unable to travel without reviewing the menus of every local restaurant, and pre-planning what you are going to eat for the majority meals. Fear of the ‘unknown’ keeps you shell-shocked when in unfamiliar situations. While being prepared for the ‘unknowable’ is a platform of CrossFit…being ‘overly prepared’ or concerned can be to your detriment of being able to relax and have a good time.


  • You are distracted from conversations and social interactions. Thoughts about food are a barrier between you and the person sitting across from you at dinner. You find yourself thinking about the calories, the fat grams, the next meal, how many carbs are on your plate in front of you, how much more (or less) you are eating than your dining buddy, etc.


  • You have to ‘earn’ your food. In order to justify eating—or eating certain foods (like potatoes, or a larger portion, or some rice, or a sweet treat you really want, or just your regular meal), you have to work for it in the gym first.



  • Bad girl. You punish yourself for eating a ‘naughty’ food—extra time in the gym, restriction from your next meal, ‘being really good’ and counting your calories the rest of the day.


  • All or nothing. You are either on a ‘strict’ diet or at the other end of the spectrum—extreme opposites with no middle ground.


  • You spend hours perusing recipe and food sites and planning your grocery list. Blogs and recipes are GREAT! And so is planning. However, when it becomes more of a time consuming obsession…it is not.


  • Indecision. You can’t make up your mind—ever—about what to eat or order at a restaurant. Indecisive the majority of the time.


  • Even though you KNOW fats are good for you, you still avoid them. Fat=fat right? There’s no other way. Despite unconventional wisdom that healthy fats are actually part of a healthy diet, you can’t wrap your head around that.


  • Carbs are an enemy. Evil carbs! So you cut them out all together. Carbs “go straight to your butt or thighs” and if and when you let yourself eat any (other than veggies)—even wholesome carbs, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes, fresh fruits—you feel guilty.


  • Talk, talk, talk. You talk about food nonstop with friends, co-workers, family, your significant other, strangers. It’s just sooooooo interesting. On the same note, it gets under your skin with others talk about food. It’s annoying and makes you anxious. You can’t handle it.


  • Happy plate. You always finish all the food on your plate, no matter what. You are disconnected with your hunger-fullness cues and if it’s in sight, it’s in mind, and in your mouth.


  • Fear factor. Trying new foods is scary, and quite frankly, something you don’t want to do. Not liking mayonnaise or seafood is one thing…but not trying a food out of fear is another.


  • You can’t keep certain foods in the house—without eating them. You lack ‘self-control’ you say around particular foods—nutbutter, cookie dough, ice cream, cookies—even if they are ‘Paleo-approved.’


  • Just say no. You are highly inflexible with foods—and if it’s not on your ‘diet’ or within your list of ‘safe foods’, you just say ‘No.’


  • Dwelling on the past. Whatever you had for dinner last night, or that larger portion you had a lunch, makes you feel guilty still the next day—just can’t shake it.


  • “Good” and “Bad”. You tell yourself you were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on what you chose to eat—or not eat.


If any of these signs sound familiar, you don’t have to stay stuck in ‘stinkin’ thinkin’.’ Here are a few ideas for getting out of your funk:


What do you want? Take 10-minutes, to an hour, to reflect and write out, on paper, what it is you REALLY want in your life, your health and your relationship with food. What is your current relationship like with food and yourself? What do you WANT it to look like?…The world is your oyster, but without vision, it’s hard to establish ‘where you are really going.’



Mindfulness. Begin to raise awareness to that negative self-talk and food talk jargon you hear on a daily basis. For the next week, consider keeping a food log—nope, not to log or count your calories, or to obsess over how many carbs you ate, or beat yourself up for ‘subcumbing’ to that sugar craving—but INSTEAD to shed light on your daily thought patterns.

In your food diary, here’s what you will do:

  1. Write down the time of day you ate, and what you ate
  2. Note your level of hunger before the meal (on a scale of 1-10, 1 being famished, 10 being stuffed); as well as note your feelings and state of being prior to the meal (physical, mental, emotional, etc.; such as ‘shaky’, lightheaded, stressed about work, busy and on the go, etc.)
  3. Note your level of fullness (scale 1-10 after the meal, as well as feelings, mood and state of being after the meal.
  4. Over the next week, reflect and use this log to bring light and shed insight on your current patterns, routines, thoughts and feelings around your food; and to begin to promote a mind-body connection to your food.


Spring Cleaning. In order to establish healthier habits, sometimes we have to clean out the clutter (the bad habits) in our lives, in order to come back to them in a healthier way. For instance: Popcorn ritual got you down, day in and day out? You just can’t seem to kick the habit of downing the whole bag while watching TV every night? Or drinking 2 glasses of wine is your norm post-work, even though you know you don’t feel your best? Or, have an addiction to Diet Coke or Frozen Lean Cuisines? Consider cleaning it out of your life—for at least 7 days…if not an entire 30—to hit the re-set button. By stepping away for abit, you may find that maybe, just maybe, you will be able to come back to it in a healthier way.



Do the Opposite. Deliberately decide to challenge one of your food rules. Even if it’s ‘not healthy.’ MORE than likely…you will survive.

Reach Out. Let’s connect! I love nothing more than supporting individuals in developing a healthier relationship with food, their bodies and/or fitness. As a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner and Occupational Therapist, I specialize in “Lifestyling”—ultimately helping others create new habits, mindsets and routines for achieving optimal health—mind, body and soul. Services are available for both those living in Austin, Texas, as well as Distance Clients, and include:

  • 1:1 Sessions: Regular, ongoing nutrition and/or therapy sessions that customizes a nutrition and lifestyle plan for your body and your goals.
  • The THRIVE Fuel Program & Family Fuel Program: a 12-week play-by-play re-set program for helping you and/or the WHOLE family establish a healthy, sustainable relationship and approach to your health and nutrition
  • Eating Disorder Recovery Program: a 12-week program, specifically for those who have struggled with disordered eating habits, thoughts, and behaviors, and are READY to kick ED to the curb


Not sure how or if THRIVE could really help you? Or if it’s even worth it? Set up a free phone consult and we can chat about your goals, your vision, your rules and your desires for life outside all that clutter.


Join Waitlist We will inform you when the product arrives in stock. Please leave your valid email address below.

No fields found, please go to settings & save/reset fields