Food, We Need to Talk…

Posted: October 4, 2012 in Food, Healthy Living, Nutrition

This relationship of ours just isn’t working for me anymore.   I’m sorry.  It’s not you, it’s me.  I’ve changed.  I am not the same person I used to be when we first meet as childhood sweethearts.  I have done some growing, and I am seeing things much clearer now.  I realize that I want something different from you, but the damage has already been done for us. We just have too much history together to ever get on the right track.  I think we need to just go our separate ways so that I am free to see other food

You and I go back many years, and I will always hold a special place for you in my heart. I will never forget the good times we had.  Remember when you were my reward?  You were always there for me when I did something well.  When I got a good grade on a test, you were there in the form of an ice cream sundae.  Or the time I got straight A’s on my report card – what a celebration that was!  Unfortunately, I relied too much on you to be my reward and it started at such a young age.  Now that I am grown, I want more out of a reward.  I want to treat myself to things like a massage, a good book, or a new piece of clothing.  Sometimes it is as simple as a long hot bath or a long walk!   

You were always there for me when times were tough.  You provided comfort to me when I was stressed, feeling gloomy, tired, bored, or lonely, etc.  Ahh – chips, cookies, ice cream… you never let me down.  I just can’t use you as a crutch anymore.  I am learning to turn to exercise to release my stress; call a friend when I am sad or lonely; get more sleep so that I am not tired all the time; and I find other things to occupy my time when I am bored .  I realized that you may have provided me with what I thought was comfort in the moment, but that so-called comfort only led to more feelings such as frustration and disappointment and in the end my original feelings were still there.   

Yes – you really knew how to reward and comfort me, but oh, you definitely mastered the art of guilt with me.  You would just stare up at me from your plate.  I could hear this voice as if you were whispering right in my ear saying that I couldn’t leave the table until I finished you because of all the starving children in the world.  The guilt was all-consuming, and I just had to finish you even though my body signals were telling me I was full and couldn’t possibly eat another bite!  That guilt really messed me up – even as an adult!  For the longest time I didn’t know how to listen to my own body – it was all about you.  Well, no more!  When I am satisfied – I stop.  I have realized that if I want to help starving children around the world, it’s certainly not going to be by finishing you even when I am full.  You can’t guilt me anymore.

And while we are on the subject of the unhealthy parts of our relationship, let’s not forget the way you managed to be a punishment for me.  If I didn’t want to finish all of you (especially the veggies), I wasn’t allowed to have dessert or even worse – I was made to sit there at the table for hours.  I have even heard stories from my friends in bad relationships with food that said their punishment for not finishing that plate at dinner was to see it again for breakfast.  Talk about a disturbing relationship with food! 

So you see, FOOD, as I said before it’s not you, it’s me. I have learned that I have had an unhealthy attachment to you for many years that I have allowed to go on, but now we need to break-up.  I am moving on to Mr. Food as Fuel.  He provides me with nourishment and keeps me completely satisfied…all day long! 

I wish only the best for you. If you really care about me, and I know you do after all these years,  you will wish me the best, too.   

These concepts of food as a reward, comfort, guilt, and punishment are taken from the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink.   Most of us can probably identify with some, or even all of the concepts.  Maybe it is how we were raised to think about food.  It may also be how some of us are now raising our children to think about food.  It is never too late to work on breaking up with your unhealthy relationship with food and begin the process of working on a new one without any strings attached.  I am hoping that by bringing these concepts to light we can more easily recognize them in our own life and work on freeing ourselves from the damaging attachments that binds us to our food.     

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