It’s evident as humans we are creatures of habit and I believe the relationship with food for some is merely habitual. This relationship with food can be different for everyone “it can either be the safest most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison” (Ann Wigmore). Our relationship and beliefs around food has changed dramatically overtime and this is largely due to our environment, lifestyle and emotions.
Majority of the most recognised dates celebrated throughout the year, which vary depending on a persons spirituality and religious beliefs all have one thing in common, a link to food. The problem with today’s society is I feel people have forgotten or over looked the true reason behind these traditions. Instead it has become a common household conversation about who had the biggest Christmas ham or what easter egg the easter bunny brought them this year. Although how many people can actually explain the story of Jesus resurrection and what Christmas day represents?
It is also quite typical of a nutrition student to notice that we never see a celebration that is rewarded with a food that is of a high importance in our daily diet requirements.
“Happy Birthday Dad, time to blow out your pumpkin candles!”
Let’s be real it’s these birthday cake moments and easter egg hunts that bring our families and loved ones together, laughing and creating memories. It’s these moments where we feel loved and hold an abundance of happiness. So there is both positives and negatives with our connection to food.
Many of us plan our weeks looking forward to the weekend where most of the time it is spent in social settings meeting friends at a favourite cafe or at a Greek tapas restaurant with your favourite "espresso martini”. We have grown to associate food with a good time. We create events around food and food around events. Without even realising food has become an emotional trigger for most of the modern day society. Does this make sense now that when we are feeling upset, stressed or unhappy with ourselves whether it be physically or emotionally we reach for food, comfort food, because we are wanting this food to make us feel better? To bring us happiness again because we unconsciously associate food with pleasure. It is during these depressed times or moments at a low that we tend to reach for highly processed and sugar dense foods increasing our hormone production which is already firing from emotional stress. This will generally result in us finishing the entire ice-cream tub instead of indulging in one or two sensible scoops. Not to mention the after math of consuming sugar, our blood sugar level hits the roof, we may feel amazing for a short period of time but we can’t stay there forever we must fall and when we fall we crash. Guilt, self loathing and fatigue kick in resulting in us wanting to grab the next sugar loaded food that is going to make us feel emotionally happy again and take us to that happy place. This is a vicious cycle. Once we can see this emotional connection with food we can start to try and break the cycle.
Food is our friend, it is not our fake friend. Fake friends are those friends that are nice to your face but do horrible things to you behind your back. This is exactly what emotional eating does, it sucks up to you when you are upset making you feel warm, comfortable and safe whilst secretly expanding your waistline.
Food is fuel and it is a necessity for us to stay alive and for our bodies to function at an optimal level. Thus the reason why nutrient dense whole foods are so highly important. Eating a diet rich in adequate protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and micronutrients will give you sustained energy and an overall feeling of vitality. This eliminates the chances of us seeking that afternoon sugar pick me up, this is when we tend to fall off our “clean eating train”. We need to create a healthy connection with our diet and make sure we are eating for health and in moderation. Make sure every meal is bringing us nutritious benefits but at the same time make sure we are enjoying the feeling of self nourishment. Keep celebrating those special moments with your favourite foods and closest friends but always remember to control the mind and remind yourself to stay away from comfort food. You can do it - its all in the mind.