three white bowls full of pasta with two glasses of red wine
Mindful Eating

Finally Facing Your Food Fears

Things are pretty crazy in the world right now with Covid-19. Wondering if we’re going to have enough food {and toilet paper 🧻}. Trying to balance working from home and raising children. Wondering when we’re ever going to see our friends and family in-person again.

But that first one, wondering if we’re going to have enough food, can be extremely stressful.

It actually plays into our innate nature to then hoard, because we maybe don’t know when we’re going to get fresh vegetables again or yeast to make our own bread. Which, to be honest, who was making their own bread before Corona Virus affected the entire world?

Are you afraid of food? Do you not eat a certain food because it's not low calorie, or afraid it will make you gain weight? Follow these four steps to help release the guilt and fear around food. #foodfears #losingweight #intuitiveeating #nondietapproach

Many of us are having to eat foods we may not normally eat. And that may scare the crap out of some of us.

Having food fears, in the sense of not being comfortable eating certain foods because they’ve been labeled “bad” or “unhealthy”, is a real thing.

Whether you realize it or not, you likely have a decent amount of food fears. I know I did when I was on Weight Watchers {or a cleanse, or detox}.

I either just wouldn’t eat certain foods, or I felt guilt, shame or anxiety around eating certain foods.

Things like cookies, cake, pizza, ice cream, burgers with a bun. A real burger and not a turkey burger. Non-reduced fat crackers or chips. Full-fat anything. Think Greek yogurt, milk, any dressings or dips. I had a fear of bananas for awhile. But also avocados, peanut butter and cashews.

woman eating a cracker

All of these foods, and way more, I feared.

I was convinced they were going to make me fat. I was convinced they were bad for me and unhealthy.

But after becoming an intuitive eater, and working through many of these fears, I realized they were irrational.

I didn’t need to fear food. No food is inherently bad or good. No food is going to instantly make me fat.

When I let go of those food fears, I also let go of all the stress and anxiety keeping those foods out of my lifestyle had been causing me.

So how do you face your food fears and learn to let go?

I have a simple four-step process that’s going to help you finally release the stress and anxiety that not eating certain foods is causing you.

Step 1 to facing food fears: write down every food you fear

This list may be really long for some of you, and you may find yourself adding to the list as the days go on.

Writing down what foods you fear brings recognition to those foods. It also helps you recognize that you ever feared them in the first place.

Bringing recognition to these fear foods is the best first step to helping release the hold {stress and anxiety} they’re bringing you.

Step 2: rank each food 1-4

Placing a ranking allows you to see which foods may have a stronger hold on you than others.

For example, let’s say you wrote down bananas, full-fat Greek yogurt, pasta and full-fat ice cream.

Your list is likely going to be a whole lot longer than just four items, but let’s start here.

a right justified bowl of bowtie pasta with cherry tomatoes and spinach

You would then rank each of those items one to four. One being, “I can pretty easily eat this food tomorrow without a lot of stress.” Four being, “I’m honestly not sure I can incorporate this food into my diet without feeling major shame, guilt or stress.”

In the past, I would have likely ranked the above items this way:

  1. Bananas
  2. Pasta
  3. Full-fat Greek yogurt
  4. Full-fat ice cream

Don’t be afraid to continue to add to your list and rank foods over time. All of your food fears might not come to you right away.

Any time you feel stressed or anxious about eating a certain food, write it down on your list and give it a ranking.

Step 3: incorporate a new food each week

This exercise really works best when you’re starting at the beginning of the month, but it will still work to help you face your food fears head on.

Now that you’ve ranked all your food fears, it’s time to start to incorporate them into your diet.

“Nothing changes, if nothing changes.”

Meaning, if you’re not willing to start to add some of these foods into your every day life, you’re never going to face them.

Which then leads you to always fearing that food and never eating it. Or always feeling anxious, stressed or guilty about eating it, or wanting to eat it.

Each week, start adding in a food from each ranking.

For example, week one, you would choose a food from ranking #1 and add it to your meal plan. So I would choose bananas and incorporate them into my weekly meals.

bowl of mixed fruit with strawberries and bananas surrounding it

Then week two you would choose a food from ranking #2, and so on, until you’ve finished out the month with a food from ranking #4.

I know the fourth week is going to be really tough for many of you, which is why step four is so important.

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Step 4 to facing food fears: journal

I know I talk about journaling a lot, but it’s because it really does help release subconscious feelings you could be holding on to.

When we only think, or speak something, it doesn’t always solidify it in our brains. Or the thoughts run around on the hamster wheel, taking up too much space in our minds.

When we take a moment to journal, we’re able to release those thoughts and recognize {again with the recognition} them.

Have you ever noticed when you can’t sleep and you’re thinking about your never ending to-do list, that if you just take a moment to write everything down, that you’re able to fall asleep so much faster?

The same is true for these food fears. When you journal about what you felt when you added each food into your weekly routine, it helps release those food fears.

But I want you to go deep when it comes to the journaling.

Rather than only writing, “I added a banana to my weekly routine and I felt anxious.” I want you to go deeper.

It could look something like, “I added a banana to my weekly routine and I felt anxious. I felt anxious because I’ve been told bananas have a lot of carbs and sugar to them. I fear the carbs and sugar because I’m convinced they’re going to make me fat. I’m afraid of being fat because if I’m fat no one will love me.”

Whoa…see how much deeper we got there? And how we got to the root cause of how bananas are making you anxious.

When we get to the root cause: “I’m afraid of being fat because if I’m fat no one will love me.” we’re able to start to focus on turning that story around.

Turning your food fears story around

It’s not easy to turn the story around. Especially to try and do it on your own.

It takes time, and it takes the internal work {the deep work} to truly help release the guilt, stress and anxiety you may be holding on to.

Take your time to really go over steps 1-4 and keep coming back to these to truly start to release your food guilt.


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