Joanne Broder Sumerson Ph.D.

Research Notes

Do You Want to Eat Your Cake and Feel Good About It Too?

5 hints to building a healthier relationship with food.

Posted Apr 13, 2018

Joanne Broder Sumerson
Source: Joanne Broder Sumerson

Over one-third of Americans are considered obese or overweight (CDC, 2017). Although healthy curves seems to have made a comeback in the recent years, replacing the skinny waif, 91% of women still claim to be unsatisfied with their body (, 2017). Weight loss is a $55 billion industry (Statistics Brain, 2017) with people spending money on diets, surgeries, experts, cleanses, diets, gadgets, and apps.  Thus, why is positive body image is lower than ever? 

Something is obviously not working. This current all-time high level of body dissatisfaction indicates that money is clearly being wasted on interventions that are not sustainable.  Why not consider developing a healthy relationship with food?

What does it mean to have a good relationship with food?  Imagine never being on a diet, but eating your favorite foods and making dietary choices that work for your body while practicing self-discipline.  

1. Be Nice to Your Body

There are foods that do and do not agree with our bodies.  You should learn this on your own before a physician has to restrict you.  Which foods tend to trigger various unpleasant bodily symptoms (e.g., stomach pains, headaches, skin irritation, change in energy, etc.)? Stay away from anything that does not feel good physically.  It might taste good going down, but evaluate if it is worth the consequence of discomfort.

2. Treat Yourself Every Day

A little decadence per day helps to keep the binges and bad choices away. For those with a sweet tooth, enjoying two cookies per day is certainly different than downing the entire package in one sitting.  Consuming a serving that is relative to your body every day will keep the temptation of eating the entire dessert table feeling more like an act of self-torture than a treat.

3. Move It

The U.S. National Library of Medicine (2017) recommends 30 minutes per day of aerobic activity for adults and 60 minutes for children and teens. The good old fashioned formula of calories consumed in and burned off.  A little cardio goes a long way, even if is taking the stairs, parking far away, and carrying your own stuff, which will help maintain a steady metabolism so you can enjoy more foods you love. Even a simple fitness tracker will log steps, active minutes, miles, and calories burned.

4. Listen to Your Body

When your body wants a big drippy burger and fries chased down with a milkshake, there is no reason to hold back.  However, your body will need to balance it with something lighter and greener for the next meal.  When people deprive themselves of foods they really love, they are not being nice to themselves.  When they do not allow themselves to enjoy, they over-do it to make up for the self-deprivation.  Our bodies need that decadence.  Deprivation only leads to resentment, binges, poor food choices, and eating disorders (, 2017).

5. No Self-judgment Zone

It is sad when people trash and bash themselves when they skip a workout or eat something they love. The only one who is shaming you is you, since it’s not that deep for anyone else.  Learn from the toxic relationship you once had with food and move on.  It’s never too late to make a fresh start.

Food is meant to be enjoyed, as well as serve a function.  Having this healthy relationship with food does not require you to hire a guru, because you need to love, understand, and become the master of your own body so you can enjoy what you eat and feel good about it.  Remember, it is never too late to make a fresh start.

Joanne Broder Sumerson
Source: Joanne Broder Sumerson


Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (2017).  Adult Obesity Facts. U.S. Department

     of Health and Human Services., (2017)., 11 Facts About Body Image

Statistics Brain, (2017).  Body Image Statistics. Brain Research Institute

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2017).   U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

     How Much Exercise Do I Need?  MedLine.