Emotion has always been intrinsically tied to eating for me. It’s an association that’s had a lot of time to accrete on my life. It is probably one of the biggest barriers I still struggle with today. When you’ve spent 20 or 25 years burying your anger and sorrow at the bottom of a dish of ice cream or at the end of three slices of toasted white bread covered in Cheez Whiz, it’s a hard habit to unlearn let alone change in any short stretch of time. I would be the first one to admit that I still do it today. Whenever I start eyeing that bag of chips on the store shelf or that unfinished tub of ice cream in the freezer, I have to stop and ask myself what is really driving it. Sometimes I don’t get to that point until after the fact. I’ve already squelched that need with a chocolate bar and moved on before I even know what’s happened.
It’s important then to start divorcing ourselves from the emotions we tie up in eating. Now, I’m not suggesting that we completely rid ourselves of the social aspect of the organized meal, there’s an important component to such a ritual that reaches all the way back to Grok. A meal shared with family and friends (or even strangers) speaks to the social animal we are. What I am suggesting however is that healthy, fulfilling eating may only come for some when they have divorced themselves from the emotional ties they have with food. Food is nourishment, food is life, food is essential to our well being. What food should not become is the solace for our anger or our reward for every minor achievement. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you deserve that slice of cake for resisting all other temptations that day. Do you see the flawed logic in that?
The emotional ties many of us have with food run deep. They cannot be treated in a day, they cannot be simply discarded. With work and determination though, food can become food again and you can learn to deal with the highs and lows you feel in your life in more positive ways. Like anything I write about here, I felt moved to write about this because I’m working through it too. In that way this is a little like therapy for me. If we stick with our plan with determination we can work through it; individually and together.