We often think of food in straightforward terms. Say the word, and most people will automatically turn their thoughts to their favorite meal or to what they are craving at the moment. We are certainly aware that we react with excitement or disappointment to the idea of particular meals. I’m not sure that we are as mindful of the concept that we have a relationship with food.
To put it another way, we are all deeply connected to what we eat and the feelings that surround that. Many of us turn to food to celebrate or to escape. Haven’t we all gone running to our comfort food at the end of a lousy day? We may not want to have feelings about food and how we interact with it, but odds are, for better or for worse, we do.
In fact, not only do we all have a relationship with food, but that relationship is possibly the most enduring one of our entire lives. You can’t simply break up with food if things aren’t working out. There is no option of taking a new job on the other side of the country. This is a relationship that you need for your very survival. And if you want to thrive? Well, then it becomes evident that this relationship may take a little effort.
For many of us, it is tempting to treat food as if it is our best friend. We get into the habit of running to it for everything. Got fired? Stay home and eat ice cream. Got a promotion? Take your friends out for a meal. The amount of human company we craved may have changed with our circumstances, but our desire for food hasn’t.
There is nothing wrong with eating ice cream on a bad day or celebratory meal. I do not mean to imply that we shouldn’t enjoy our relationship with food. In fact, I believe quite the opposite. Food is a wonderful companion of life’s journey. Our relationship with it can be harmonious or adversarial.
It’s a relationship that is always deeply personal and frequently complicated. Our food stories are filled with history and quirks that you had to be there to really understand. Ask ten different people how they feel about chocolate, and you’ll get ten distinct answers. We all have a relationship with food, but somehow that connection is unique for every one of us.
There is a deep tie between food and our emotions, our memories, and our senses. In other words, we interact with food with our body, our mind, and our heart. We may try to compartmentalize, but that becomes very difficult to maintain. As with any other relationship, when we try to lock parts of ourselves away, it is only a matter of time before old wounds fester and new trauma emerges.
Unfortunately, for many of us, it is all too easy for this bond to become dysfunctional. We find ourselves caught in a trap where we vacillate from too much to too little. Frequently, we have no idea what a healthy relationship with food truly looks like because it is rarely modeled. We deeply crave a healthy, thriving relationship but have no idea where to begin.
I believe that the best relationships work in harmony. That doesn’t mean there isn’t trial, error, or the occasional boundary. We often strive for control, but I think we are best served by working towards finding what works for us. Instead of fighting with food, there is room to explore what works for you instead of what doesn’t.
You can’t break up with food, but you can redefine your connection with it. You can decide what you want and what that looks like for you at this exact moment of your life. You can create a healthy relationship with food. You are going to be together for as long as you shall live. You can get clarity and redefine how you interact with food, and you don’t have to do it alone. The Mystical Kitchen is here to help with this. Let’s move forward together.