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How To Know If Your Relationship With Food is Toxic

I hope you’re all having a great week so far! These past few days I’ve really been reflecting on my decision to go a year without measuring my worth through my weight, clothing size, or diet choices. I’ve realized that prior to making this decision, there were several red flags I could have seen much sooner if I had been willing to open my eyes to the fact that I was feeling powerless in my relationship with food and my body.

I made a longer list for my own records so I can keep it on hand in case I ever find myself in a similar situation in the future, but below I have shared the three red flags that I feel are most common with those I’ve spoken to about this subject over the years.

1. You feel anxiety around food.

It’s just food. Right? Not to someone who has a toxic relationship with food! When your relationship with food is toxic, it’s likely you’ll feel some anxiety around meal time and the subject of food and dieting in general. The more anxiety there is, the more likely it is you will experience overeating or restriction, as well as digestive distress.

If you find yourself at the grocery store doing a little back and forth dance in front of a particular food item, I suggest leaving it at the store. I like the saying, “When in doubt, don’t” (I believe I got this from an Oprah magazine years ago) when it comes to big life decisions. And if you’re considering whether or not to purchase x,y, or z food item a big life decision, chances are your relationship with food (and that item in particular) is a bit toxic.


2. You feel shame when eating treats. 

Things like gourmet sauces, specialty cheeses, olives, dark chocolates, baked goods, desserts of all kinds, and wine are all really indulgent and totally unnecessary to sustain us. It doesn’t mean that they don’t serve a perfectly valid purpose in your diet/lifestyle. Pleasure is so important to our food experience and even more so to our physical experience of living on this planet. I honestly think I could write an entire book on this subject because I am so passionate about it.

Just because something doesn’t deliver specific nutrients, health benefits, or doesn’t facilitate a cleanse of some sort doesn’t mean it’s not necessary for us to thrive. We are more nuanced and special than that.

Treat yourself to foods for the sake of pleasure when the desire is there. They don’t have to be the foods I listed above, of course, but don’t leave pleasure out of the equation when it comes to choosing your meals. That may be the single most important and empowering piece of advice I could give someone on healing a toxic relationship with food.


3. You constantly feel as though you’re not doing enough to be healthy, fit, or clean. You feel guilty and wrong for not pushing yourself all of the time. 

Feelings of guilt and wrongness are both big indicators of a toxic relationship with food. When you feel these emotions it’s pretty hard to enjoy food or your life. If the way you are eating is continually making you feel bad about yourself, then chances are your relationship with food is toxic.

If you find yourself in this mindset, make a promise to yourself that you will release it in time. Try saying out loud, “I will release my guilt, anxiety, and shame around food, eating and my body.”

Once you recognize that your relationship with food is toxic, you can begin to heal it. Sometimes we are so accustomed to dieting and to needing to practice will power and discipline that we forget that pleasure and love are central to our healthy diets and our over all well being.

Practice expressing gratitude before your eat or have your fresh juice or smoothie. Thank Mother Nature for her abundance. Think of the farmers nurturing the soil and the produce, and think of the people who make the fresh food accessible for you: the produce delivery man or woman, the health food stores that make it so easy for you to eat well.


Making pleasure a part of meal time, preparing food lovingly and with gratitude, and expressing gratitude before eating (whether out loud or in your head) are simple yet bold first steps to transforming your toxic relationship with food into a healthy one.

Much Love,




  1. love this, you should write a book!
    I totally get the dance in the supermarket thing…. funny how I never regret not buying that something but usually regret it once I’ve hastily downed or gobbled it up. I’ve even done that as soon as I got home just to justify buying it and then of course you know what happens!
    Life is a work in progress… thanks for your tips along the way, it is much appreciated.

    • Marlena Torres says:

      Gittele, I almost always regret buying something that I was unsure about, too. I agree that life is a work in progress…thank you so much for your feedback! XO

  2. Dominick Cipriano says:

    It’s really a struggle to always eat right . Fortunately , there are great choices available these days and it makes things easier. I do know that when I eat healthy and proper food combine that I have less issues with indigestion , etc . Also, I mentally feel much better about what I am putting in my body .

    • Marlena Torres says:

      We are so lucky to have all of the options we have! I’m glad tat you’re noticing differences in your changes. Little changes now mean a big difference in the long term! :)

  3. What a wonderful post! I’ve been loving them all lately and wanted to comment especially on this one, as I found myself holding and staring at a bag of dried figs for a LONG time yesterday at Miller’s before I decided to put them down. It’s been a challenging week and boy did those figs look like the answer! Haha how silly things can seem when standing outside of them. I hope all if well with you and the family !

    Much love,

    • Marlena Torres says:

      Thanks Jamie! I hope you’re well, too! I do that a lot with nuts/seeds/tahini and chocolate, so I’ve been avoiding them overall and realizing that I don’t really enjoy them. Well, I do enjoy the chocolate but not the nuts/seeds/tahini or even coconut. Very interesting discovery for me. I miss you lots, I hope we can get together soon! Much Love right back to you :)

  4. YES to pleasure! Absolutely. I try to celebrate my food and make an occasion out of dinner time, lighting the candles, playing good music if I feel called to do so… I’m also consistently grateful for being able to eat the way I do. I once heard Gabby B say that before eating she says to herself “I love my food and my food loves me” which had me smiling.

    • Marlena Torres says:

      I love that saying by Gabby B! Reminds me of Natalia sharing her mantra “I love life and life loves me”. Really simple but beautiful and powerful.

      I hope you’re doing great, my dear! XOXO

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