From a biological standpoint, food provides us with the nutrients, minerals and energy necessary to perform daily tasks and to grow. It is an absolute necessity if you are going to survive. Some mammals eat meat, some eat plants and vegetables and some of us (myself included) eat it all. As our society has evolved and developed, so has our relationship with food. For the majority of industrialized nations food is very abundant and one should not have to go hungry. From a biological standpoint we succeeded in being able to supply enough food for our species to thrive. But, we are humans and of course we’re going to complicate things.
Eating for many represents a social gathering, whether it be with family, friends or co-workers. We ask someone we like if they’d like to go out to eat and if the relationship blossoms each will forever remember that special meal. We share the details of our day with our families during dinner, we talk about the upcoming day during breakfast and sometimes for some the only break they get in a day is their lunch break spent with co-workers. We celebrate couples about to be wed with a rehearsal dinner and again after the ceremony. So food is strongly correlated with powerful emotions such as love and happiness. What happens if we remove these powerful emotions from our experience of food?
We all will feel judged at some point by others. We are social by nature and feeling accepted and approved for many is as necessary as food. With our feeding times being largely in the presence of other people, what we eat and how much of it can in turn lead to someone feeling judged and left with a sense of guilt and shame. But, why is that? Media definitely has played a significant role in this as we constantly see and hear messages about ideal weight, body size, and body type that can cause us to begin having strained relationship with food. We begin to see certain foods as good vs bad or right vs wrong. We eat a whole pizza, feel guilty about it, take part in degrading ourselves and decide that we’ll restrict food for the near future to make up. I won’t go into the biological components at play that communicate to you when you need food, but they are strong and are there for a reason and to ignore these signs is setting yourself up for future issues with your weight, mood and overall relationship with food.
Diets Don’t Work
To most, the word diet is a difficult to digest word (see what I did there) that has several negative connotations to it. Whether it be the food that they are now forced to eat in order to lose weight or the fact that most diets and dieters will fail at their goal of losing weight. Just by the act of dieting we take out the fun of eating not to mention that we often don’t become fully satiated which will in turn cause us to feel hungrier and eventually possibly to guilty eating.
Removing the Label
If you are struggling with your relationship with food and you have goals of wanting to lose weight and improve your health, I suggest that first you reconcile your perception of food being good or bad or right and wrong. Unhealthy food can be good in the right situation and you do not have to impose labels to the food you eat and onto you for eating them. By removing the labels, seeing food for what it really is you can begin to discover a lifestyle that works for you, makes you happy and you get to maintain a healthy relationship with food.
If you would like to speak with me regarding your unhealthy relationship with food, please contact me at 936-701-6009 or contact me through my website at www.sommers-counseling.com.