Would it then be fair to say that the vast majority of people who live in the developed world have or have had a ‘food issue’ at some stage in their life, if not throughout the entirety of their life?
You just have to listen to general chitchat in the workplace or amongst friends to hear food is on the agenda of conversation at some point. Comments like: ‘I ate way too much dinner last night’ or ‘I tried the best custard tart today’ ‘or how many calories/fat/sugar is in that’ are often followed by self-depreciating ones like: ‘I’m so naughty/bad’, ‘I have no will power’, ‘my trousers don’t fit’, or I’m feeling sluggish. Our food choices are then all somehow made ok with comments like: ‘I’ll just eat extra healthy tomorrow’, ‘it’s all in good balance’ or ‘don’t let me eat that again’.
eating the way we do’.
But the interesting thing is that if we are going to change our good-day, bad-day cycle we need to shift the focus or obsession to be not so much on what we have eaten (though this has it’s place), but rather why we have eaten it – specifically, why are we using food the way we are using it in an attempt to make us feel better? Could it be more precisely that we are actually using food and the patterns of eating that we have maliciously developed to avoid feeling?
Deep down we know nothing externally can make us feel good – for love cannot grow in our garden by planting seeds another has given us, it must first be nurtured from the inside, nourished by our own hand, so to speak. Put simply, food is not going to make you feel love – no matter how many superfoods you consume!
What’s really going on with our relationship with food?
The thing is, our issue with food is not – at the root of it – really about food at all. No different to any issues one has with money… it’s not really the money’s fault we overspend, can’t save or fight wars over – it’s how we choose to use it that influences the resulting consequences. Food choices can either deeply nourish us to support vitality or numb our bodies, causing lethargy and making the body work much harder than it truly need to.
Many have embarked on diets, only lasting so long, then relapsing into old patterns and behaviors with food, often putting on more weight than initially lost because diets don’t address the root cause of the eating patterns.
So what is our ‘issue with food’ really all about if, in fact, we don’t actually have an issue with food at all?
There is a lot going on in the world and in our relationships – a lot of tension that we don’t always feel equipped to handle. If we can’t accept what we are feeling and/or don’t know what to do about what we’re feeling we generally go for something to numb us, distract us, dull us, disconnect us or to emotionally comfort us. Food is one of the easiest and most socially acceptable ways used to stop us from feeling what is going on around and within us (though there are other things like TV, sports, music, working in drive, etc. that can get us the same result).
In our attempt to stop the feelings by using food we are in actual fact stopping our best most vibrant, powerful selves from not only shining in the world but feeling vital and thus to be able to support ourselves in our day-to-day living. Essentially – Star Wars style - we are stopping ourselves from exposing and thus being able to work with and heal the dark side i.e. the sources of tension in our lives.
To be healthy both emotionally and physically, our purpose lies in fully expressing all of who we are – no holding back, expressing what is being felt, no trying to appease etc. – for all of this greatly affects our health and is at the core of ill health on far greater levels than we are acknowledging.
Why would we want to dull ourselves with eating choices and patterns? Why would we choose not to be our full powerful selves? Because we are afraid that if we do, others will feel uncomfortable, retaliate, be disappointed or react in some way because we are not joining their own self-destructive or power-dimming behaviours.
What does it feel like to drop the food issues and nourish our body?
We have the opportunity to:
- Feel lighter generally – we don’t hold on to excess weight but also we don’t feel like we are lacking or empty from not eating enough.
- Have more clarity / think more clearly – not just from eating to support our body but clearer because we’re not wasting our brain space on the internal dialogue and food war within.
- Have more energy and feel more vitalised – because our food choices are supporting our body but equally so we’ve dropped the self-berating which dramatically drains our body.
- We generally treat ourselves more tenderly when we are eating to support ourselves. Physically and emotionally there is a greater pull to love and care for ourselves more deeply, which is much more satisfying than any comfort food could ever provide.
So if we have this supposed dilemma about being in our power versus shutting-it-down-with-food what do we do? Here are some very practical tips on how to work with letting go of the ‘food issue’ so that you can embrace more of the awesomeness that you naturally are.
8 practical tips for letting go of the ‘food issue’
- Develop a loving, respectful and deeply tender relationship with your body
- Change the conversation about food
- Avoid sensationalising your food choices
- Clock how particular foods make you feel
- Develop awareness and understanding about the tension you feel in your day-to-day.
- Be honest about how you are feeling – physically and mentally
- Never beat yourself up
- Stop, breathe, connect
There is much for us to realise and understand about what is driving our food choices, and that it is not about improving our ‘will power’ where the answer lies, but rather about healing the root cause behind the patterns of behaviour around our food choices and the way we eat.