Updated: Aug 22
Do you know that the food industry is worth $6.4 trillion? I don’t think there is a more popular topic than food. Well, maybe the weather can compete, but let’s face it talking about the weather is not as fascinating.
Food has cultural significance. It is always an icebreaker at parties, and it is said that to get to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
We obsess about food. It starts with thinking about what to eat for breakfast or dinner, whether something is healthy or not, to what should I eat.
If you find yourself preoccupied with food, read on to find out why you are obsessed with food and how to stop it.
But before we start, get your copy of my NEW e-book The wholehearted diet. Discover the power of plant-based eating, stress less, and have more energy.
Am I Obsessed With Food?
I couldn’t find any studies on how much time we spend daily thinking about food. I know I spend way too much time than I would like to!
The primary reason why you may be obsessing about food is that you want to lose weight. Weight loss is a billion-dollar industry, so it is definitely food for thought.
The classic concept of weight loss is calories in, calories out. You may be on a strict diet when you
count every little piece you eat. With this approach, you will spend almost every awakened moment counting if you haven’t overconsumed.
Furthermore, you may obsess with feeling hungry, especially if you are trying to lose extra kilos. Unfortunately, this will drain your mental and physical energy. And you need your strengths when it comes to dieting.
The second reason you keep thinking about food is another billion-dollar question, what to eat?
There are many experts telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat which is overwhelming. It is important to remember that the majority of experts, especially scientists, base their opinion on the latest research.
The more research that emerges the more conflicting the results that come out, and the more views on something we get. So one season keto is the go-to diet, and the next one is the low-fat diet.
I once read that scientists can never say something with certainty. Because more research needs to be conducted to get certainty! It will get your head spinning.
What is your reason for obsessing about food?
Regardless of the reason, I have a few food principles I like to live by to make the food obsession go away.
Food is Not Good or Bad
Have you ever said that eating some foods is not good? Usually, we say eating fried foods or lollipops is not good. But eating kale is good.
We mean that certain foods are good and others are bad.
The risk with this classification is that this is not accurate. There are a lot of products that claim health benefits, but when you look at the list of ingredients, you know they are not good.
Scientists need to prove every theory. So, the more evidence there is, the better our understanding of the health benefits of a particular product. Not a long time ago, we believed that milk was the main source of calcium.
But as more research is conducted, this theory has become a bit shaky.
This way of looking at food is also dangerous because we associate ourselves with food. Do you consider yourself fit and healthy because you eat healthy food? How do you feel when you eat ‘bad food’?
It is a slippery slope when we start labelling ourselves as good or bad or feeling that way because of how we look at food.
Food is neither good nor bad. Food is either nutritious or not.
When you shift your perspective from food being good or bad and start asking yourself if the products you eat are nutritious, you will stop obsessing about food.
Food is Fuel
The only obsession I have around food is if what I eat gives me the energy I need. Not all food is equal, and our body does not convert all food groups equally.
Our body creates energy either from carbohydrates or fats. You still need to consume protein to build and repair muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes. Proteins are also an energy source, but the percentage is very small.
Either way, food is your fuel. To have the mental and physical energy to move forward, to stand up to the challenges life throws you, and to keep up with the speed of life, you need to fuel your body.
Think about your body as a car. The better quality petrol you put it, the smoother the ride. Your body works the same way.
Rather than obsessing about what you can or cannot eat, shift your focus to what will fuel you to make that next step.
Do you need a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon? Have you just finished a workout, and you need to replenish yourself? Or do you need to sustain your energy for longer?
When you start looking at food as your fuel making decisions on what, when, and how to eat becomes much easier. You stop obsessing over food and concentrate on how to boost your energy levels.
If you have ever been on a diet and didn’t stick to it, don’t worry. You are not alone. Losing weight is the number one New Year’s Resolution. Unfortunately, 91% of us will quit before the end of January.
Most diets are built around restrictions. You are either restricting calorie intake or consuming a selected food group. It could be either fewer carbohydrates, less fat, or less protein.
The problem with this way of eating is that, well, it is very restrictive. You create an obsession that you can’t eat certain food groups as, otherwise, your weight will fluctuate. It also brings the concept of deprivation.
You deprive yourself of a particular food, and if you eat it, you feel guilty about it. With this way of looking at food, certain foods become forbidden.
Unfortunately, we usually want something even more if it is forbidden. So now you not only obsess about your weight but also fight your human nature.
Rather than focusing on what you are not allowed to eat, focus on what you can eat. What’s more, rather than obsessively removing foods from your diet, add more of what you can consume.
When you stop concentrating on subtractions you will realize that there are a lot of nutritious foods you can eat. It will change the whole dynamic, and you stop obsessing over food.
Eat a Balanced Diet
The primary reason to eat a balanced diet is to deliver all the nutrients your body requires. You need all the food groups for all the vital processes to happen.
For example, if you don’t consume enough vegetables or fruit, you may be missing out on certain vitamins and minerals. If you cut out a whole group of foods, you risk deficiencies in your body.
If the deficiency is small, you could experience aches and pains. However, the longer you deprive your body of what it needs, the more health risk you potentially run into.
A balanced diet will not only assure that your body has all it needs, but it will also keep you full. Most of the time you obsess over food because you feel hungry. Have you ever heard someone saying they could eat a horse?
Of course, they didn’t mean eating an actual horse. They were simply hungry.
And when you keep obsessing over being hungry, you use a lot of mental energy. You are not productive, creative, or let’s face it having any fun!
So make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet and you’ll stop obsessing over food.
Check Your Emotions
I am going to be blunt and say that things usually get complicated when we attach emotion to them. It goes the same with food. You may obsess about food because you want to lose weight, or you are just changing your diet and want to make sure you eat what you are supposed to eat.
But you need to understand that you have a relationship with food. And the more invested you are and the more emotions you have, the stronger the relationship.
And as with any relationship, your relationship with food can be either healthy or it can be toxic. It can be comforting, rocky, or nourishing. You decide.
Emotional eating occurs when we use food to cope with difficult emotions. We look to food for comfort. This way of dealing with challenging emotions can be fatal, especially if we don’t have any other ways to deal with our feelings.
What’s more, for some, stress can be a trigger to eat. Have you ever reached for chocolate to relieve stress? Although I’ve never been a stress eater, I used to drink wine as a stress reliever.
Alcohol, the same way as food or other substance, can be addictive.
If you suspect you are an emotional eater, I would like to encourage you to seek professional help. Through the process, you will learn how to detach emotions from food, look for alternative ways to cope with your feelings and rewrite the stories you have about yourself.
When you are not emotionally invested in the food you eat, you stop obsessing about it. Food becomes what it has always been: food.
Stop the Diet Culture
It could be the first step towards stopping being obsessed with food, but if you follow a weight loss diet, you need to stop.
As you have learned, healthy eating and looking at food as fuel is a much better option than counting calories or removing food groups from your diet. Constant dieting will put you on an emotional rollercoaster.
You will be obsessing about the yoyo effect, weight fluctuation, or even developing serious eating disorders.
If your obsession with food comes from the need to lose weight, look for sustainable and long-term solutions. You may find that accepting your body the way it is will help you with that.
Your body is marvellous and knows what to do to keep you alive. Listen to the signals your body sends you and respond accordingly.
Nourish your body adequately, so all vital processes can happen, and you don’t starve yourself. Take it easy on yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Rather than being fixated on the latest fad diet, think about what you can add or change to your current diet to eat healthier. What can you adjust in your lifestyle to support your desire to lose weight?
Excessive weight, obesity, and diabetes are all conditions that will compromise your health. But when you put all the focus on your weight, it is hard to stop obsessing over food.
How to Stop Obsessing Over Food
We are all fixated on food to a certain degree. You may be looking to lose weight or simply are trying to make sense of what is healthy to eat.
To stop obsessing over food, make a mindset shift. Start looking at food as healthy or unhealthy and that food is fuel. Eat a balanced diet, focusing more on what you can add, rather than what needs to be avoided.
Food is just food, so if you have an emotional relationship with food, asses how healthy it is. And if you suspect you are too invested, don't be afraid to ask for help.
Ready to get started with a plant-based diet? Get your copy of my e-book The Wholehearted Diet. Discover the power of plant-based eating, stress less, and have more energy.