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What would you think about if you didn't think about food?

Posted Jun 04 2010 12:00am
If you haven’t noticed, I talk about food a lot on this blog - it’s called “Make Friends With Food,” after all - and not once have I found myself at a loss for ideas. I’m fascinated by food, how we deal with it, how it works in our bodies, the many roles it plays in our lives. And I’m not alone. Have you noticed that at any party or gathering, the conversation inevitably comes around to food, recipes, or dieting?

I’m fascinated by food, but I’m not obsessed.

In fact, there are long stretches in my day when food is the last thing on my mind. I have plenty of other stuff to think about, like getting the well pump fixed and what to name a pivotal character in my novel. But this wasn’t always the case. I used to wake up thinking about food and then spend the whole day preoccupied by it: what I was going to eat, what I really wanted to eat, what I was going to try to avoid eating. And of course, how much I weighed and how much better my life would be when I lost weight.

In retrospect, it was a giant waste of time.

While I was busy obsessing about food and weight, I was ignoring other things that were truly important to me, like what I wanted to do with my life. All my problems seemed insignificant compared with the all-encompassing goal of weight loss. I assumed that once I lost weight, everything else would fall into place. (At least that’s what the diet ads implied.)

We invest a lot of brainpower in figuring out our food issues. Something I hear all the time from clients is: “I’m just so tired of thinking about food.”

I’m not surprised. Food obsession takes a ton of energy. If you’re into conspiracy theories, you might even suspect the whole diet culture of being a plot to tie up our attention and distract us from an evil government/capitalist takeover (pick your poison).

Okay, that might be going a little too far. The truth is, eating well does require a certain commitment of time and energy. If you don’t think about food at all and take the path of least resistance, you’ll find yourself eating mostly junk and experiencing the health consequences.

On the other hand, do you find yourself daydreaming about what you’re going to eat next, even before the present meal is finished? That could mean your diet isn’t working for you. Thinking about food all the time is one sign of malnourishment. And this makes sense: if your body is starved for nutrients, everything else is moot, so nature ensures that you remain extremely focused on your next meal.

Consider for a moment: do you think about food too much? What might be the reason? What would you think about if you didn’t think about food? What goals could you achieve or problems might you solve with all that extra energy?
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