Food is one of the most significant relationships in your life. It begins as a biological necessity and quickly morphs into a relationship that directly correlates to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
You can walk away from a toxic person.
You can walk away from drugs.
You can walk away from dangerous situations.
But you cannot completely walk away from food.
You will one day leave the home in which you were born.
You did not always live with your partner.
Your children will leave the nest.
But you needed food the day you were born, and you will need food until your last breath.
Given the above, it’s easy to argue that food is your longest relationship, and it is a relationship you cannot exit– regardless of whether or not it erodes your life.
Five Factors Affecting Your Relationship with Food
As DignityHealth.org points out, there are five factors to consider when discussing your relationship with food:
- “… do you automatically grab a bag of chips when you sit down to watch TV? Do you unthinkingly reach for a second helping even if you aren’t hungry? Do you eat quickly without really tasting the food? These habits can affect your relationship with food, as well as your weight and overall health. By being more aware, you can exchange them for healthier ones.”
- Social Gatherings
- “Food plays a big role in our social lives. Gathering for meals is one of the most common ways we get together with friends and family. We also eat if we go out for a drink, watch a ball game, or just hang out… Always carry snacks that you feel comfortable eating… so you can fill up on what feels right.”
- Psychological Tendencies
- “Food makes some people feel better if they’re stressed, anxious, or depressed. Other people can’t stand the thought of eating when they’re feeling bad. Both ends of this spectrum can cause health issues, so it’s important to understand your reaction to stressful or depressing events and how it relates to your relationship with food.”
- Our Senses
- “Our senses are powerful. For example, the smell of a meal in the oven or the sight of someone eating an ice cream cone can bring back memories that make us crave certain foods… By identifying these triggers, you can better understand why you want these foods, and control your cravings or limit the amount you consume.”
- Food As a Reward
- “Food is often a reward for doing something good. Parents or grandparents bring the kids out for pizza after a good report card, and a party with a groaning buffet table signifies the end of a great sport season. We reward ourselves with a chai latte or a burrito for a job well done. When this is done occasionally, there is no problem– but if it becomes part of our routine, we could end up making unhealthy food choices in an effort to constantly satisfy ourselves.”
For many, the holidays are the perfect storm for the above five factors. Automatically say “yes” to holiday desserts (habits). Feel out of place unless holding a drink or food item at a holiday party (social gatherings). Combat the holiday season’s flare-ups of stress, anxiety, and depression with eating and drinking (psychological tendencies). Smell the homemade Christmas butterhorns and let the memories they trigger of happy holiday pasts lead you to eat double what you need (our senses). Treat yourself with food and drinks for taking the time to decorate, shop, and complete all the other holiday obligations (food as a reward).
An alcoholic can say, “I’m never going into a bar again.”
A survivor of abuse can say, “I’m never tolerating my abuser again.”
But you can not say, “I will never eat again.”
Food & Emotions: Don’t Let Them Step on Each Other’s Toes
If your relationship with food is not healthy, you’ll feel the effects beyond tight-fitting clothing. As a Harvard Medical School article articulates, “Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Since about 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.”
From incorporating supplements like EMPowerplus Advanced into your daily routine to listening to your body when your feed-o-meter moves from empty to satisfied, there are steps you can take now to cultivate a healthy relationship with food and nutrition. The bottom line is that food is one of your life’s constants, and what you consume directly affects how you feel. Since how you feel affects your perspective, attitude, outlook, and many other important aspects of your life, start setting your life up for success and building healthy habits into your life now.
Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach