Your Relationship With Food

Author: admin, February 18, 2010

What is your relationship with food?

We all love food but some of us over-indulge while others seem to know how to stop!  Can eating be fun, yet balanced so that we can have the body we want?  Is food a battleground, a comfort, a demonstration of love, a boredom “avoider”, or is it enjoyable sustenance for the body?

Our relationship with food is forged at a very young age and food has so many associations for us – just think for a moment of the smell of freshly baked bread – it can transport many of us back to our mother’s kitchen, happily covered in flour waiting to lick the bowl.  The ideal relationship with food is to use it as fuel for the body, knowing when we have enough, and enjoy it.  We don’t pore extra petrol into our cars when the tank is full so why do we do that to our bodies?

If you notice that you are eating food because you are bored or want support and comfort, what can you do?

  • For boredom, think about what you enjoy that doesn’t involve food.  Explore other options and try new things.  Could you join a club, take up a sport or join a night-class, go for a walk with a friend, even calling a friend is enough to distract us from thoughts of food.
  • Sometimes changes in our lifestyles can trigger an increase in our eating habits.  Perhaps there are more demands on you time and you don’t have time for yourself so food becomes a substitute way of caring for yourself.  Think about other ways to care for you?
  • “Food is always reliable, it doesn’t let us down or criticize or take us for granted”.  It’s only a short-term solution though.  When we overeat, we tend to be unhappy and critical of ourselves, why would you believe you deserve such criticism and abuse?  Look at what is great about you, what is special about you and appreciate yourself and all you do.
  • How often have you eaten rather than spoke up for yourself?  What stops you speak your truth.  Your truth is as valid as anyone else’s.  Honest expression is vital for our emotional wellbeing.  When we care enough about ourselves to stand up for ourselves, then we really are on the road to self-empowerment.

There were some basic elements of Irish society that have really affected our relationship with food:

  • “Clean your plate”, “don’t waste that good food and all the people that are starving in the world”.   I was 25 before I realised eating food that I didn’t want meant I was using my body as a dustbin!
  • Life was a struggle for people who had to support large families and often they were too busy to spend “quality time” with children.  How many of our parents proudly stated “we hadn’t much but there was always food on the table” which of course you ate and didn’t dare leave on the plate.  Food was a demonstration of love and the more food, the move love.  Find another way to show love.
  • “There’s a good child, clean plate, well done”.  Everyone wants approval and praise and sometimes mealtimes were the only time we got any approval so naturally it’s easy to see how many of us ate more food just to hear those words.

We all enjoy eating out, it’s sociable, it’s a treat but do we really need 3 or 4 courses?  Do you actually taste the food or are you too busy talking?

So how can you increase your enjoyment of the “eating out” experience?

  • When you’re choosing from the menu, do you see the dishes in your mind or taste them or enjoy the sound of the ingredients or do you remember how you felt when you last had a similar dish?  Each of us has a strategy and once you know your strategy, then even choosing from the menu can add to the overall experience.
  • When the food arrives, enjoy the look of it and smell the aroma.
  • Eat slowly; perhaps put the knife and fork down when you are talking. When you’re eating, concentrate on the food and when you are talking concentrate on that – it will be more fun when you do one thing at a time.
  • Take small mouthfuls and chew your food so that you actually taste it.
  • When you eat slowly, you give your body time to digest the food and become aware when you are full.  When we eat too fast, we don’t tend to realise how full we are until all the food is eaten.  I don’t know anyone who enjoys that really stuffed feeling.
  • Enjoy your wine, it has its own taste and aroma which is best enjoyed separately and not used to “wash down” food.  So fully chew and swallow your food before drinking, that way you can enjoy your drink as well.
  • Remember you are an adult now, you won’t get told off for not cleaning your plate and you won’t get praise for eating everything either!

The best time to eat is when you are beginning to get hungry rather than when you are starving.  When we are too hungry, we tend to eat fast, not enjoy it fully or realise when we are full.

If you are considering embarking on a weight loss program, consider what you want to achieve?  It’s important to have positive goals to work towards.

What is a positive goal and how do you establish your goal?

  • If you want to loose weight, ask yourself “if you achieve your goal, what will that do for you”? And the answer might be, “I’ll be more confident, or I’ll be healthier, or I’ll look great in my clothes”.  Ensure your goal is stated positively.
  • Write your goal down and put it on the fridge door to remind you.  It’s much easier to work towards a goal to be confident or healthier rather than I want to loose weight, which tends to mean dieting, monitoring what you eat and denying yourself.
  • How will you know you have achieved your goal?
  • What will you be seeing when you have achieved your goal?
  • What will you be hearing when you have achieved your goal?
  • What will you be feeling when you have achieved your goal?
  • What do you get out of your present eating behaviour that you wish to keep?  It’s important to remember our eating behaviour, even when we’re not happy about it, has a positive benefit for us, e.g. over-eating to provide comfort.
  • What do you need to do to help you achieve your goal, e.g. do you know how to eat healthily.  How will you maintain your motivation?
  • What emotions trigger over-eating?  Sometimes we need professional help to clear negative emotions.  I’ve seen clients struggle for ages to lose weight with no success but once they cleared the hurt of negative emotion, then the act of losing weight became easy.
  • Remember to praise your success!  Every single positive step – appreciate your achievements.

4 Responses to “Your Relationship With Food”

  1. Takeaways Dublin Says:

    Wonderful – some great thoughts there – I was also wondering whether our relationship with food could be assessed by how much time we dedicate to it – do you cook at home or just use takeaways all the time?

  2. John Cole Says:

    Extraordinarily helpful cheers, It looks like your current followers would definitely want a lot more information like that keep up the good work.

  3. admin Says:

    Questions that might help you at Christmas:
    What could you do for your body to demonstrate your appreciation of it? It gets you around, allows you to experience and feel life. Without it, what would you be able to experience?
    If your body could talk to you, what would it ask you for this Christmas?
    Christmas can be a wonderful “experience”, how can you keep it wonderful in terms of food?
    Separate your feelings from food?
    If you need a treat or a “relief” from something – get creative, what other options are there?
    Always aim for relief, Relief is a feeling, it’s not food.
    Compassion, Compassion, Compassion, we are all doing our best.
    Have a very happy Christmas, I hope it’s full of joy for you but even if it’s full of “relief”, then you’re doing well!

  4. admin Says:

    When we’re happy, we look after ourselves because we care for ourselves. Get happy or at least get relief. Try the experience of preparing something really healthy for you. What does it feel like to care for your body like it’s something very valuable and precious. Don’t get me wrong, I love a takeaway every now and then as a treat but only as a treat, not as a “it’ll do”, “I can’t be bothered cooking”. Try treating your body as Precious, lets face it, without it we’d experience nothing. Give it a go.