A Guide To Assess Your Relationship With Food
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WHAT defines a "good relationship" with food? Researchers at the University of Newcastle recently published a checklist that puts your approach towards food into perspective, and also recommended techniques that build on everyday habits to change any unhealthy thoughts or behaviours you may hold with regards to its consumption.

Clare Collins and Tracy Burrows, professors in the department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle suggest four lines of thought that will help clarify your relationship with food: 

1. Is it in tune with your body cues, meaning you’re aware when you are hungry, when you’re not, and when you’re feeling full?

2. Are you eating appropriate amounts and variety of foods across all food groups, at regular intervals so your nutrient, health and wellbeing needs are met?

3. Are you comfortable eating with others and also eating alone?

4. Are you able to enjoy food, without feelings of guilt or it dominating your life?

Answering "yes" to these four questions means you're in the right place vis-a-vis food. But if you find yourself responding in the negative, you may want to examine what the underlying issue or trigger could be.

Collins and Burrows detailed the following tips to manage your relationship with food, if it needs attention: 

1. Maintaining a ‘food mood’ diary that makes careful note of "when and where you eat and drink, whom you’re with, what you’re doing, and how all this makes you feel". If your emotional state often fuels your eating (and what you eat), then this diary provides valuable insights.

2. Reflect on “why” you’re eating when you eat. "If reasons include stress, low mood or other emotions, create a distraction list featuring activities such as going for a walk or listening to music, and put it on the fridge, or in your phone, so it’s easy to access," Collins and Burrows advise.

3. Practice mindful eating. Being mindful means taking the time to check whether you really are hungry, or, as Collins and Burrows express, 'whether it’s “eye” hunger triggered by seeing food, “nose” hunger triggered by smells wafting from shops or cafes, “emotional hunger” triggered by feelings'.

4. Learn about your nutrient needs. This is more helpful than mentally coding food as “good” or “bad”, the researchers say.

5. Focus on getting enjoyment from food. This includes the preparation process, and the sharing of food with others.


Take this quick quiz to gauge how you relate to food. For each question, choose the answer that best represents your personal experiences and feelings regarding food.

1. How often do you find yourself eating without a clear physical hunger signal, perhaps out of habit or routine?

a) Rarely or never

b) Occasionally

c) Fairly often

d) Frequently

2. Think about the last time you faced a stressful situation. Did you turn to food for comfort or distraction?

a) Not at all

b) Only briefly

c) For a significant part of the time

d) It was my primary coping mechanism

3. Reflect on your typical reaction after indulging in your favourite foods. Do you often experience emotions like guilt, regret, or anxiety?

a) Rarely or never

b) Sometimes

c) Frequently

d) Almost always

4. When eating, how often do you truly savour and enjoy your food, paying attention to its taste, texture, and aroma?

a) Most of the time

b) Occasionally

c) Rarely

d) Almost never

5. During attempts to manage your weight, do you tend to engage in extreme dieting or calorie restriction?

a) Never

b) Rarely

c) Occasionally

d) Frequently

6. How do you typically feel when someone comments on your food choices or body weight, even if it's well-intentioned?

a) Unaffected

b) Slightly self-conscious

c) Moderately self-conscious

d) Extremely self-conscious

7. Consider the role of food in your social life. How often do you use food-related events as a means of connecting with others or as a social crutch?

a) Rarely or never

b) Occasionally

c) Frequently

d) Almost always

8. Have you ever found yourself meticulously tracking every calorie, gram of fat, or food item consumed?

a) Never

b) Rarely

c) Sometimes

d) Frequently

9. Reflect on the role of food in your self-image. How often does your perception of your body and worthiness hinge on your dietary choices or appearance?

a) Rarely or never

b) Occasionally

c) Frequently

d) Almost always

10. Reflect on your overall feelings towards food. How would you describe your relationship with it?

a) Nourishing and enjoyable

b) Sometimes challenging, but manageable

c) Often tumultuous, with mixed emotions

d) Overwhelming and distressing

Scoring Key

For each question, assign yourself the following points based on your response:

1. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3

2. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3

3. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3

4. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3

5. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3

6. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3

7. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3

8. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3

9. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3

10. a) 0, b) 1, c) 2, d) 3


0-10 points: Your relationship with food appears to be generally healthy and balanced.

11-20 points: You may face occasional challenges, but your relationship with food seems manageable.

21-30 points: Your relationship with food is often complex, and it's worth reflecting on your emotional ties to it.

31-40 points: Your relationship with food may be troubled, and seeking professional support could be beneficial.

This quiz is for self-reflection and general insights only. If you have concerns about your relationship with food, consider seeking guidance from a healthcare or mental health professional.