You can’t just turn your back on food. Substances that some people struggle with such as tobacco and alcohol are optional, but food isn’t optional. We need food for our very being, whereas smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol are not necessary for life.
Food is an integral part of our social lives as well. We all know that in our heart, but what happens when we begin to use food as more than just a necessity for survival, and begin relying on food to fill needs for which it was not intended?
Eat to live, not live to eat.
Even though Socrates wasn’t writing about weight management, his thought is still applicable today. For thousands of years humans have used food to mark celebrations. Think about the ancient religious celebrations and the rite of passages those cultures celebrated with special feasts and meals. Food is timeless, and is still important to us for our bodily health and held in a place of importance in our social lives as well.
When I struggled with my own obesity, I wasn’t just eating to live. I used food as both a source of fuel for my body and a salve for my emotions. In a lot of ways, I began using food in an inappropriate way.
There were only rare moments throughout the day where I wasn’t thinking about food.
It didn’t matter if I was brushing my teeth, working on the computer, blow drying my hair, or playing with the children. I was oftentimes thinking about food. I’d think about what food I had in the pantry, whether I should drive to McDonald’s for a milkshake, or consider if I had time prepare a fancy dessert for after the evening meal.
Even while eating dinner and the dessert I’d just prepared, I’d be thinking about what my after-dinner snack would be. Would I rather have ice cream and chocolate syrup or tortilla chips smothered with cheese?
Food was my ever present mental companion.
When we think about eating to live and not allowing food to rule us or or emotions, we have to think about what that shift in attitude looks like in real life. Some of us are super disciplined and never stray beyond whole, clean foods for the rest of our lives, and we really do use food as a source of nourishment and rarely think of food in an inappropriate way as I so often did.
But for many people, that strict existence is difficult. It is for me. Personally, I do still make special foods for people’s birthdays, make special desserts for celebrations, and do associate certain foods with holidays. (Think pecan pie at Thanksgiving.) Because I still have seven kids living at home, a large part of my day is spent planning for and preparing meals and snacks.
But I no longer live my life to eat, nor do I spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about food.
My views of food have transformed over the years from being almost obsessive about it to enjoying it in a more healthy way.
In the morning when I wake up, I don’t think about chocolate cake or wonder whether John took all of the leftover soup, nor do I fret when the children start to eat the last of the snacks. Rather I just go on with my morning, not really thinking about food. When it’s time to make breakfast, lunch or dinner, I just make what is on my menu board and keep moving forward with my day.
Food is no longer always on my mind. I still love to eat good food, but I don’t love thinking about food all the time. It’s been very freeing emotionally to let go of focusing on food all day long.
I remember noticing the transition about midway through my weight loss. One day, at about 11:00 in the morning after I had lost about 50 pounds or so, I distinctly recall thinking, “I haven’t thought about extra food all morning.” I had begun the change from an unhealthy obsession with food to a more normal, balanced existence.
How often do you think about food? I’m not saying it’s bad to think about food, because it certainly is not – but it may not be emotionally healthy to think about food all day long, every day, without fail.
The transition for me came slowly, but it did come. It can come for you too. Diane