Let’s be real – It can be hard to feel good about having fun with food: our choices, when and if to eat, what to eat. Period.
With a culture that glorifies dieting and thinness, thinking of food as a pleasurable experience can be tricky.
Diet culture wants us to believe that food must be perfect. Made with perfect ingredients and perfectly portioned in order for it to be considered “good,” while all other experiences are subsequently deemed “bad” or “not good enough.” This disconnects us from being able to trust that our bodies can and should be allowed to have fun with food, even if they aren’t “perfect” by diet culture’s definition.
While food is necessary for fueling us throughout the day, we can also choose to eat food just because it tastes good. And that’s okay. We talk a lot about Intuitive Eating with our clients, and at the center of that is satisfaction without a side of guilt or shame. The ability to have fun with food is possible when you can learn to distance yourself from the moral language (i.e., good foods, bad foods, and guilty foods) and view food as just food. Once you start to view all foods as morally neutral, it becomes a lot easier to find ways to build connections around and have fun with food.
With that being said, it is possible to start having fun with food again. Let’s dive in with six ways to start this process.
6 WAYS TO START HAVING FUN WITH FOOD
1.Ditch the food labels.
The way we talk about food matters. When we start to label food as “good” or “bad,” it can start to translate in our brain as “I am good for having this food” or “I am bad for eating this.” This is a slippery slope that can negatively impact your relationship with food (and your relationship with yourself). It may be time to reflect on your overall relationship with food and body to see how it’s impacting your ability to have fun with food again. The ten principles of Intuitive Eating really help you to dive in and reflect on how you view food in your life and how it may be impacting you. If you’re noticing your relationship with food could use a little TLC, make sure to give us a call and schedule an appointment so we can support you in your journey.
2. Incorporate flexibility into your schedule.
When intake becomes too rigid, it can steal some of the joy from the experience. That’s why building in some flexibility to your schedule can help open up new opportunities for having fun with food! An example of this would be scheduling a few days when you plan to eat a meal out – if this is financially possible. This not only gives you a spontaneity boost, but it can increase the variety and make each week a little different from the last.
3. Brainstorm flavors, cuisines, textures – Make a list!
By building flexibility into your weekly routine, you have the opportunity to try different types of food, depending on what you’re craving or have been wanting to try! Try creating a list of different fun foods you enjoy, including flavors, cuisine, and textures that sound interesting to you. This can help map out some new places in your area to experiment with.
4. Say yes!
Saying yes to spontaneity, outings and parties with friends and family that involve food can be a great step towards integrating more fun into this process. These opportunities help you to be able to focus on food to help support connection and make memories, rather than solely on the need to restrict or micromanage them. No better way to start having fun with food than connecting it to enjoyable, meaningful experiences!
5. Get curious and experiment.
Try something new! Even if you are at your favorite restaurant, try an experiment of ordering whatever sounds the best to you at that moment or something you have yet to try! Experimenting with having fun with food can be a great way to figure out new favorites that you may not have known about. And the great thing is, if you don’t like it – no big deal! Try to approach these scenarios with curiosity rather than judgment.
6. Practice self-compassion.
Examining your relationship with food can be difficult – especially living in our diet culture. It’s hard to work through and try to let go of some of the food rules that have potentially provided comfort to you over the years. Remember, you are not doing anything wrong by enjoying food – as much as diet culture tells us otherwise. Getting pleasure and enjoyment from food is natural and can be a fun experience! Food is not the enemy – expectations around what and how we “should” be eating is. You have full permission to enjoy all foods!
In summary – food can be fun! But we understand that it is a lot easier said than done, especially when you may have diet culture breathing down your neck. This is a process and doesn’t just change in one day. Go easy on yourself as you move through this journey and know that we are here to help you find a little more pleasure from your plate.
Ready to have a little more fun with food? Check out how we can support you in your next step here!
Adrien Paczosa is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian practicing in Austin, Texas and the surrounding counties.
She is the owner and founder of I Live Well Nutrition her Dietitian practice which started in 2007 and serves clients in the Austin, Texas area in two locations. Fearless Practitioners, the division of her business that offers training to dietitians and wellness professionals.