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Do You Have an Unhealthy Relationship With Food? Here’s How to Tell

Are you a frequent dieter? Do you consistently monitor your weight? Do you generally stay away from junk food — unless you’re sad, stressed, or angry? You might exhibit exceptional health — but your relationship with food could be suffering.

It’s possible to take weight loss too far, but you can also maintain a healthy weight and still struggle with eating and self-esteem. Plenty of people exhibit disordered eating habits without meeting the criteria for an eating disorder — and their health can be at risk, too. Here are the signs your relationship with food could benefit from some much-needed TLC.

1. You eat differently in public than you do at home

Guilt around eating can signal an unhealthy relationship with food.

Guilt around eating can signal an unhealthy relationship with food. Do you ever feel guilty for eating what you “shouldn’t”? | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

You’re the person at the office who always brings a salad for lunch. Co-workers poke fun at your “rabbit food” as they enjoy their leftover pizza from last night’s greasy dinner, but you shrug off their comments. You know that as soon as you get home, you’re probably going to order a small pizza for yourself and eat the whole thing anyway — and there won’t be anyone around to judge you for it.

There’s a reason you do this — it’s name is guilt. Feeling like you have to hide what you eat isn’t healthy — but there’s something you can do about it. Anne Ricci suggests in her Huffington Post article to snuff out the “shoulds” in your eating life. “I should have eaten a salad instead of pizza” makes you feel guilty for eating pizza. Instead, she says, make it an active choice to change. “Next time I order pizza, I want to have a salad with it, and not eat the whole pizza in one sitting.” You’re allowing yourself to make a conscious choice, instead of feeling guilty about a past choice you can’t change.

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