Food Positivity: How to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

Learn how to appreciate and savour food without feeling guilt. Celebrate the nourishment and pleasure that food provides, and remember that you deserve to enjoy your meals! #foodpositive #mindfuleating #joyfuleating

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Introduction

Hey there! Welcome, or welcome back to Shape & Joy – a place for all things health, wellness and positivity! Today, I want to I want to talk about something I love: food. Or in this case, food positivity.

You might have heard of body positivity, but what exactly is food positivity? Food positivity is all about having a healthy, balanced, joyful relationship with food—one that nourishes you and isn’t a source of guilt or shame.

It’s so easy to get caught up in diets, restrictions, and negative thoughts about what we eat. But imagine how good it would feel to be to enjoy your meals without guilt or stress. That’s what food positivity is all about! It’s about embracing all foods, listening to our bodies, and finding joy in the simple act of eating.

On my journey to losing 80 pounds, I found a more balanced and mindful approach to eating. However, it wasn’t until a trip to Rome, Italy, that I truly understood the essence of food positivity. Wandering through the busy streets, savouring freshly made pasta in cosy trattorias, and enjoying pistachio gelato without a second thought—I saw how Italians embraced food with such love and joy. Meals were not just about eating; they were about connection, celebration, and savouring every bite.

So, in this post, I want to talk about how we can develop a healthy, positive relationship with food, one that celebrates our bodies and brings us joy.


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Table of Contents

What Is Food Positivity?

Food positivity is all about embracing a healthy, joyful relationship with food. It’s about appreciating the nourishment food provides and enjoying it without guilt or stress.

Imagine savouring every bite, knowing it’s okay to indulge in your favourite treats, and feeling good about your choices.

Dieting often involves strict rules, restrictions, and a lot of pressure. It’s about cutting out certain foods and constantly monitoring what you eat.

On the other hand, food positivity encourages balance and moderation. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, it celebrates what you can enjoy. It’s about listening to your body’s needs and trusting yourself to make choices that feel good.


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Food Positivity

I know that developing this mindset can be challenging. Many of us have been conditioned to see food through a lens of restriction and control. It’s not easy to shift those thoughts overnight.

But remember, it’s okay to take small steps and be kind to yourself along the way. Everyone’s journey with food is unique, and it’s perfectly normal to face ups and downs.

Embrace All Foods

ALL FOODS. Yes, you heard that right—no food is inherently “bad” or “good.” It’s time to let go of those labels and start seeing food for what it truly is: a source of nourishment, enjoyment, and connection.

Instead of cutting out your favourite foods, why not enjoy them in a way that feels balanced? It’s all about finding that sweet spot where you can enjoy some cake or a handful of crisps without any guilt.

The key is to enjoy these treats in moderation, alongside a variety of nutrient-rich foods that make you feel good.

Food Positivity freedom

Here are some personal tips on how to enjoy your favourite treats without the guilt:

  1. Mindful Indulgence: When you’re craving something special, take the time to truly savour it. Eat slowly, appreciate the flavours, and enjoy the experience without distractions. This way, you’re more likely to feel satisfied and less likely to overeat.
  2. Portion Control: It’s all about the portions. Instead of eating an entire bag of cookies, enjoy a few pieces mindfully. You’ll still get to enjoy the taste without overindulging.
  3. Pairing Foods: Combine your treats with healthier options. For example, if you love chocolate, try pairing it with some fresh berries or nuts. This way, you get the best of both worlds.

By finding balance and enjoying your favourite treats without guilt, you can develop a healthier and happier relationship with food.

After all, food is meant to be enjoyed, celebrated, and savoured.


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Listen to Your Body

Now that we’ve talked about embracing all foods, let’s move onto another important aspect of food positivity: listening to your body.

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This is where the concept of mindful or intuitive eating comes in. Mindful or intuitive eating is all about tuning into your body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness.

It’s about eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re satisfied, and choosing foods that make you feel good. It might sound simple, but in a world full of diet rules and food trends, it can be hard for a lot of us. (Warren et al., 2017) (Dyke & Drinkwater, 2013) (Małachowska & Jeżewska-Zychowicz, 2022).

How to Recognise Your Hunger and Fullness Cues

  1. Hunger Check-Ins: Before you eat, take a moment to assess your hunger. Are you eating because you’re physically hungry, or are you eating out of boredom, stress, or habit? Try to eat when you feel true hunger, and stop when you’re comfortably full.
  2. Eat Mindfully: Pay attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of your food. Eating slowly and savouring each bite can help you notice when you start to feel full. This way, you’re more likely to stop eating at the right time.
  3. Fullness Scale: Use a scale from 1 to 10 to rate your hunger and fullness. Aim to eat when you’re around a 3 (hungry but not starving) and stop when you’re around a 7 (satisfied but not stuffed).

Your body knows what it needs to thrive, so listen to it! It’s okay to crave different foods at different times—sometimes you’ll want a big meal, and other times a light snack will do.

Trusting your body means honouring those cravings without judgment.

Tips to Handle Cravings

  1. Acknowledge Your Cravings: It’s normal to crave certain foods, and there’s no need to feel guilty about it. Acknowledge your craving and decide whether you want to indulge it now or later.
  2. Satisfy the Craving Mindfully: Sometimes, the best way to handle a craving is to enjoy a small portion of what you’re craving. Eat it slowly, savour it, and let yourself enjoy the experience fully.

With time, you’ll find that this approach not only improves your relationship with food but also enhances your overall well-being. (Arch et al., 2016) (Kidwell et al., 2015)


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Make Healthy Eating Fun

Healthy eating can be fun if you get a little creative! Start with planning meals as a family activity. Everyone can pitch in ideas.

Try out new recipes together. Think of it as a mini cooking show at home where everyone gets to be a chef. Try new ingredients and cooking styles.

Make mealtime more fun for the family with themed dinners. Have a Mexican night with homemade tacos and guacamole, or an Italian night with a build-your-own pizza station. Decorate the dining area to match the theme and play some matching music to set the mood.

Turn mealtime into quality time. Sit together, talk about your day, and enjoy the food and each other’s company. It’s not just about eating healthy, but also about creating happy memories around the table.

Focus on How Food Makes You Feel

Paying attention to how food makes you feel can really change your eating habits. Instead of focusing on calories or diets, tune into your body’s reactions. Notice how you feel after different meals—do certain foods make you feel energised and happy, while others leave you sluggish?

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Start a food journal where you jot down what you eat and how you feel afterwards. This can help you identify patterns and make more mindful choices. Over time, you’ll naturally gravitate towards foods that make you feel your best.

Healthy eating isn’t just about physical health; it’s about emotional well-being too. Enjoy the process of discovering what foods fuel your body and mind in the best way.

Building Healthy Eating Habits

Building healthy eating habits starts with small, manageable changes. You can start by just adding an extra piece of fruit or veg a day. Planning your meals ahead of time can help make sure you make healthier choices and avoid last-minute unhealthy options.

Listening to your body is key. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, paying attention to how different foods make you feel. Stay hydrated, as thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. (Sairanen et al., 2015) (Sorensen et al., 2019)

Food Positivity

Building healthy habits is a gradual process. Celebrate your progress and stay patient with yourself as you make these changes. Over time, these small steps will lead to huge improvements in your health and mindset.

Food Positivity: Conclusion

Building a healthy, happy relationship with food is all about balance, mindfulness, and enjoyment. Remember to embrace all foods, listen to your body, and find fun ways to make healthy eating a part of your life. Celebrate your progress, and don’t be too hard on yourself—every small step counts.

Ready to take the next step? Start by making one small change today. Whether it’s trying a new recipe, practising mindful eating, or celebrating a small win, every action counts!

Comment below with your favourite food or a tip that has helped you. Let’s inspire each other to embrace a joyful relationship with food. 🌟

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