Like many folks, I did not have a healthy relationship with food growing up. I was raised in a family with a poverty mindset and for many years, lived at poverty level. Us kids had to steal money out of my mom’s purse, to go and buy food. For days, we will operate only on bread and coffee. I was never obese, but my mindset about food was just completely out of whack. I loved binging on chocolates. It made me feel good. I guess I ran way to that feeling of feeling good. All by myself, with no one interfering with how I felt.
Eat “mindfully”. This is a term I’ve seen pop-up more and more in articles around the internet. People with a healthy relationship with food eat mindfully. I did some research, because I wanted to know if that’s even a thing.
Our bodies are wonderfully made. There’s a million processes going on at once in your body, and yet, your body is in perfect balance if everything works the way it should. Our bodies have some nifty signals that will tell us when to eat and when to stop.
The practice of engaging all our senses to guide our eating-related habits and decisions are called mindful eating.
In simple language, it means you sit down, relax and enjoy your meal.
How many of you have sat down, relaxed, enjoyed a meal and still binged on stuff on your plate that’s so called ‘forbidden’? Right? You just couldn’t help yourself! So why does mindful eating not work?
The psychology behind big food and marketing is amazing to say the least. Big food hire the best of the best in the industry to make sure they tap into all those senses. Whether it is with the packaging, the taste, advertisements – they know how to hook you, irrespective of how hard you try to not binge on the tasty crisps. Because, let’s face it, majority of people know it’s wrong to live of sugary treats and processed foods. Yet, we still do it. And then they label you as an emotional eater.
We are all emotional eaters. Emotion is involved in every bite you take, whether you eat a healthy delicious meat dish or whether you eat a piece of chocolate cake. Any food we eat will evoke some sort of feeling inside of us. That is a normal process of eating. And hopefully you’re a not a statue with no feelings.
Where do you draw the line then? We can’t. It’s almost impossible nowadays with all the bad stuff lurking in all our food. And when I talk about bad stuff, it’s everything with a shelf life. The production of food has become an exact science. Nothing is left to chance, not even the taste. They have carefully researched the exact “bliss point” for a product. The bliss point is the amount of an ingredient such as salt, sugar, or fat which optimizes deliciousness. Their product must sell after all. Yet, the food industry will say “everything in moderation”. But their products are designed to be consumed in excess, deliberately.
And what does that do, it puts the responsibility health squarely on the shoulders of the consumer. It’s your fault that you cannot control your eating habits. It’s your fault that you are sick and obese.
If you’ve ever worked in corporate, one of the worst things that you can do to an employee is giving them the accountability for a task, but you don’t give them the responsibility. I.e. they are the single one neck you will wring if something goes wrong, but you don’t give them any power, authority or means to execute the task successfully. Many of you will now how frustrating that is.
But we accept that in the world of food and nutrition. Yes, you ate too much. But it was a careful devious plan to get you to eat too much. What’s even worse, is big food know exactly how to work with your mind so that you even don’t realise that you are doing it.
Like Caroline Leaf says, it is indeed a sad state of affairs if we don’t even know how to eat anymore. Something that comes natural when you’re young. But as you grow up, you are being taught by society that eating has no meaning. It has no significance in your life. Just survive. Until it has a hold on you through obsession. And everything becomes a survival game.
And it’s not your fault. You need to release yourself from that guilt and shame. It’s only then that you can start to think clearly on what changes you want to make in your life.
Your relationship with food can be destructive to your overall health and well-being. Look out for these signs that could indicate that you have an unhealthy relationship with food:
- You think about food all the time. You constantly think about what you’re eating, what you’re going to eat, not going to eat and what you should’ve eaten.
- You feel guilty and ashamed when you eat something you’re not ‘supposed’ to eat. You self-impose rules, don’t’ stick to the rules and feel like shit afterwards about it.
- You punish yourself if you don’t’ keep to your own eating rules.
- You hide food so that you can make sure there’s something left when you want it.
- You’re always on a diet or off a diet. Even if it’s in your head only. You’re in search for the perfect weight loss diet all day long.
- You eat till you are stuffed, but you can’t say no to dessert
- You feel like you’re trapped when it comes to sweets and junk food and binge eating
- You’re addicted to weight loss, but have never been able so shed weight permanently
Now, I can give you 3 or 5 steps to focus on a healthy relationship with food. But it isn’t that simple. We are bombarded by advertisement. You see junk food signs on every corner. You hear junk food ads on the radio all the time. You see junk food ads all the time on television. The images embed themselves in your sub-conscious. And before you know it, you swing into the closet fast food joint on your way home from work.
And the fast food company is happy. It has achieved its goal.
The only problem with that is, 5 years from now you spend more time with your doctor, than your mother.
Food for thought,