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September 20, 2022  |  Health & Wellness

How to handle fall food anxiety

The arrival of fall can bring excitement for cold-weather cooking, but any changing seasons can also cause feelings of food anxiety. Food anxiety can show up in a few ways, including calorie-counting, picking only “safe” foods to eat or overexercising. We talked to our nutrition expert, Molly Bremer, about food anxiety and strategies to empower you if you’re feeling anxious about food this fall.

In this article: “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resche, KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-quart Stand Mixer and GreenPan Paris Pro Nonstick Fry Pan Set. 

What is food anxiety?

According to Bremer, food anxiety is visible in a few ways. Depending on the person or situation, a few of the ways food anxiety can manifest include beginning a restrictive diet, overexercising specifically for the holidays or focusing on the food served at a gathering instead of your friends.

Food anxiety encompasses a wide range of thoughts and behaviors and can affect anyone. As a dietitian, Bremer most frequently sees food anxiety in people who deal with food-related allergies or gastrointestinal issues or who struggle with concerns about their body size.

Strategies for addressing food anxiety

Flexibility is an important tool for reducing food anxiety. Nutrition-related resources can help you develop a more positive relationship with food, which involves being curious about your thoughts and behaviors around food and being compassionate and gentle with yourself rather than self-criticizing.

Bremer suggests a few questions to ask yourself if you’re observing anxious thoughts or behaviors regarding food:

  • Are you worried about a specific upcoming event, such as a major holiday?
  • What about that event is worrying you?
  • How is focusing on food helping with this worry, and are there other ways you can think of to cope with those feelings of worry?

Try reflecting on these questions in a journal or discuss them with a therapist or dietitian.

Improving your relationship with food

According to Bremer, “When someone develops a more neutral or positive relationship with food, the anxiety with food will often also dwindle.” Developing a more positive relationship with food can be accomplished through the practice of intuitive eating. Intuitive eating helps you move past simply labeling certain foods as “good” or “bad” and instead learning to listen to your body to eat food that will satisfy you both mentally and physically.

Developing a better relationship with food through intuitive eating can look like overcoming an obligation to choose healthier food and instead eating the food you want. Intuitive eating can help lead to healthier eating habits and better body image.


Q. Is food anxiety an eating disorder?

A. Extreme symptoms of food anxiety can lead to an eating disorder. If you or someone you care about is displaying food-related behaviors that are interfering with their life, or if you observe compulsive exercising or rapid weight changes, seek or help them seek professional help. A weight-inclusive primary care provider, psychiatrist, therapist or eating-disorder-specific registered dietitian can all help provide care.

Q. Where can I get help with food anxiety?

A. Bremer recommends working with a weight-inclusive registered dietitian and therapist who can help you develop the tools for intuitive eating. If these resources are not available, consider group support or one of her recommended books listed below.

Best products for managing food anxiety

Best Intuitive Eating - A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

“Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

This groundbreaking book is a great introduction to intuitive eating. It lays out 10 principles for intuitive eating to help readers find peace and satisfaction in their eating choices.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

The whole family can learn and get creative with cooking using a stand mixer like this one. With a 10-speed motor, a roomy 5-quart stainless steel bowl and many kinds of attachments available, it can help make everything from festive cookies to zoodles.

Where to buy: Sold by KitchenAid, Macy’s, Amazon and Kohl’s 

Best GreenPan Paris Pro Hard Anodized Ceramic Nonstick Fry Pan Set

GreenPan Paris Pro Hard Anodized Ceramic Nonstick Fry Pan Set

The nonstick coating in this popular skillet set is free from PFAS, PFOA, lead and cadmium for a cooking surface that’s both easy to use and healthy. This set includes dishwasher-safe 10-inch and 8-inch skillets.

Where to buy: Sold by Macy’sAmazon and Kohl’s

Best Anti-Diet Reclaim Your Time Money Well-Being and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison

“Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating” by Christy Harrison

Authored by a registered dietitian, this book challenges the prominence of diet culture. It can help readers recognize more subtle ways diet culture permeates our lives and teaches how to reframe and reclaim how you think about food and your body.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Gentle Nutrition - A Non-Diet Approach to Healthy Eating by Rachael Hartley

“Gentle Nutrition: A Non-Diet Approach to Healthy Eating” by Rachael Hartley

Part self-help book, part cookbook, this book makes unlearning diet culture simple and practical. It offers science-based ways to build healthy habits and teaches healthy yet satisfying meal plans.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Nordic Ware Three-piece Baker’s Delight Sheet Pans

Nordic Ware Three-piece Baker’s Delight Sheet Pans

Roast your favorite fall vegetables and make easy one-pan meals on these aluminum sheet pans. They are lightweight and conduct heat well, and the encapsulated steel rims prevent warping.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Macy’s and Kohl’s


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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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