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How Cooking Can Help You Make Peace With Fear Foods — Registered Dietitian Columbia SC



While avoiding fear foods relieves anxiety in the short term, it ramps up anxiety in the long term. Having fear foods can have a major impact on one’s quality of life and relationship with food. It can make social eating extremely anxiety provoking, make it hard to eat pleasurable meals, and when severe, can even impact one’s ability to fuel their body adequately.

Another thing that happens when someone has a fear food is that they loose skills for competently eating the food. They’re either restricting it, or binging/overeating it as a backlash response to restriction. It’s hard to eat a food like a normal human being when you don’t know when you’ll get to eat the food again! These backlash eating experiences reinforce the idea that they don’t have control around the food, and fuels even more fear.

One of many ways I help clients make peace with fear food is by teaching them how to cook with fear foods and incorporate them into balanced meals. Understanding the culinary uses of different foods can help reduce anxiety, and shows how all food has a purpose. Cooking also fosters a connection and a respect with those fear foods, many of which my clients have only eaten when they’re in “binge mode,” not when they’re in a place of wanting to slow down and savor their meal. I find it’s especially helpful when clients learn how to incorporate foods into everyday meals, which also helps to normalize their food choices.

How Cooking Can Help You Make Peace With Fear Foods

Below are some examples of common fear foods, and ideas for how to incorporate them into balanced meals. Preparing a fear food yourself, and incorporating it into a meal that has fat, protein, carbs, and produce, gives you a chance to practice eating your fear food in a normalized way.

Fried Foods

Fried foods are an incredibly common fear food, with a perception of them as being greasy and high in fat and calories. Of course, if we could magically erase fatphobia/fear of weight gain from our brains, a food being high in fat and calories wouldn’t be a scary thing, but alas, that doesn’t exist! To make peace with friend foods, I like to teach my clients how to properly fry food. When the oil is between 350-375 degrees F, it creates a seal between the oil and the food so that very little oil is actually absorbed, AND it makes the fried food super crisp and not at all greasy.

Now, if your kitchen has not the greatest ventilation like mine, deep frying at home might not be do-able without setting off the fire alarm. That’s why I often cook with frozen fried foods, like french fries, chicken tenders or fried seafood. Because most people eat fried foods when they are impulsively getting fast food or are going out to eat or just heating up random frozen fried foods and eating it by itself, I like to teach ways to incorporate them into balanced meals. A couple examples I’ve shared recently in IG using SeaPak (a client of mine) products is this calamari salad and this popcorn shrimp sheet pan dinner. When your brain is categorizing food as “good” and “bad,” it’s easy to craft meals around these binaries. Incorporating fried foods into balanced meals lets you practice “eating in the middle.”



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