Food sustains us, can entertain us, and often unites us. It is the core of every social gathering. It is ingrained in our being because food is necessary for our survival.
Food is vital for us:
- It builds our bodies and minds with energy and nutrients.
- It is fundamentally a rewarding behavior.
- As a rewarding behavior, it is directly linked to mood and emotions.
Because food has so much meaning for us, it is helpful to look at the meaning it holds for us individually.
What does food mean to you?
- I use food for survival. I only eat when I am hungry and stop eating when I feel full.
- I use food to gather with friends and family. Food is used to create connection with others.
- I use food to soothe me when I am feeling different moods and emotions.
Food Survivalists: Food is carefully used to optimize the nutrients and energy the body receives. Calories are counted as well as macronutrients like protein, carbs, and fat. The highest quality food is chosen whenever possible and it is without any pesticides or added chemicals or hormones. An extreme food survivalist would hunt or catch all the meat they eat and raise all of the fruits and vegetables to ensure that they are getting the least amount of unnatural chemicals and pollution in their food. They even look at the environment where the animals are living to determine if the environment is healthy or not. They know that environment impacts the animal. An extreme food survivalist may value time alone and feel that keeping precision can help keep everything in order. Other people just complicate things. Emotions are often overlooked in favor of facts.
Food Socialites: Food is a great excuse to get together with friends, family and sometimes even strangers. Food is a way to create a bonding connection with other humans. A food socialite will often invite people over to their home for dinner or invite them out to dinner at a restaurant. The quality of the food isn’t that important, but the ability to sit down with another person to talk is of great importance. There are usually more positive emotions associated with food socialites because they use food to celebrate happy occasions. Their strong need for social connection overshadows everything and can become a crutch to avoid facing personal issues by focusing on other people. Too much social interaction can signal a need for alone time to process whatever emotions are being stuffed down inside.
Food Sensitives: Food is used to soothe and push down uncomfortable emotions that are trying to surface. Anxious about something, eat some bread. Upset or sad about a loss of a friend or a job, eat some ice cream. Food is used as a distraction so the person doesn’t have to face the feelings that are trying to surface. When this happens repeatedly, the person may begin to disassociate from their feelings and just reach for food instead. It becomes a daily activity to eat food that creates a sensation in the body that feels better than the emotions the person is trying to avoid. Quality of food is ignored and most of these people would feel very uncomfortable eating around other people because they may feel judged about the amount of food they are eating as well as the types of foods they are eating. As a result, food is not a happy social activity for them. Their emotions are running their life.
Most likely, there is some part of each aspect inside of you. You may buy healthy food, but don’t count calories or carbs. You may enjoy going out to eat with friends and eat ice cream when you are upset. But you don’t do each of these to the exclusion of the others or on a daily basis. You are somewhere between all three. The key is to find balance. You want to become a Food Harmonizer.
People have a complex relationship with food. Taking time to understand where you are now is important to finding balance. It is possible that you came from a family where food was used to soothe emotions. Or a family where eating always meant being with people. You may have had some health issues which forced you into becoming a food survivalist and you have forgotten how being with friends or having a luscious treat once in a while is okay too. Unraveling your relationship with food and choosing to make better choices can provide you with an optimal mix to make you feel happier and healthier.
Join me on your journey to find balance!