Our relationship with food is so complex. So many years of my life spent thinking about, preparing, and eating food. It’s a necessary part of life, so we can’t really escape it!
I’m thankful to have almost 7 years sober at this point and be in a good enough place to be able to take a look at my relationship with food, my eating habits and how they make me feel.
Read on for some thoughts about how all this works!
Busyness, food, and feelings
It’s very easy to get out of balance with food in our busy lives. Uber eats (maybe not in my rural area, but for people in more urban areas~ from what I hear) makes it so incredibly easy to have whatever you get a hankering for delivered right to your door! I know from the line at the local McDonald’s that a lot of folks did not make their coffee, pack their lunch, or have time to make supper!
Unfortunately, most of the food we get from the drive-thru is not going to help improve our health & wellness. And I mean that in a WHOLISTIC way. The perceived “ease” we get from driving up to a window to collect our food is actually contributing to our dis-ease.
And that convenience can actually turn into a quick-hit of excitement and pleasure that discourages us from preparing and eating our own food and keeps us coming back for more!
Much more than just fuel or sustenance, food is also a substance we can & do USE to one degree or another, every day.
I grew up eating a lot of fast food. Eating a lot of food, period. I derived a lot of pleasure & eventually comfort & escape from food. Carbs were my go-to. Hungry or not, I was always ready for my next hit. I learned at a young age that food could make me feel a certain way.
When I felt low, it could make me feel happy. It made me forget about my sadness, anxiety, and not-enoughness. I was a chronic overeater. Thankfully, my bingeing never gave way to purging. I would just eat a large amount of food and then feel physically & mentally terrible. So not only did the old feelings come back, but I was now heaping guilt, shame, and disgust on top of it all.
I couldn’t stop the cycle because I had never learned any tools for handling all those uncomfortable feelings and emotions. I just knew that food temporarily relieved them.
Until I became a teenager and I found that alcohol did it even better! And then that whole cycle intensified for 25 years. And I couldn’t change any of it until I was finally willing to dig out the dirt underneath it all and I found……my feelings!
Going deeper with food & feelings
Now that I’m not drinking, I can see the role food plays in my life more clearly. Empty fast food bags and latte cups floating around the interior of my car remind me that I’m not really “treating myself”.
At first it feels good. I get that old excitement of picking up a sweet, highly caffeinated drink or a greasy burger. And I can’t really say that I feel physically BAD after such a meal. It’s more of an inner KNOWING that I’ve let myself down. Slipped back into old ways.
And sometimes it can feel like I’m stuck in a vicious cycle of being too busy to slow down and so I have no other options than to eat fast-food.
But if I dig deeper and look at my #1 excuse- TIME- then I also have to understand that I’m the only one who can change any of these circumstances, which then leads me to the bigger picture of not setting boundaries and I know that I’ve certainly been here before and it seems to be a central theme of my life.
I know, all of THIS from food, right?
Like I said in the beginning, this is a very deep, complex relationship and it can be rife with guilt and shame. Which makes us even LESS likely to want to peel back the layers and understand why we can’t seem to improve our relationship with food.
Honestly, most people will never do it because it may seem easier NOT to. It’s so easy to stick with the devil we know in favor of the trying a new way!!!!
So how can you even get started?
First things first
Some of my favorite suggestions for when things feel overwhelming and I feel too busy to make a change:
- Slow down anyways. Seriously. Don’t just say it. Cancel some plans if you need to.
- Breathe. Take some deep breaths and let your heart rate slow down.
- Get out your journal and do a brain dump of all the things you “have to do”. Keep writing everything that pops into your head. Getting it out on paper is hugely freeing to me. It clears out space in your head from thinking that you have to keep rehearsing rehashing everything you need to do. From there you can start to make a list of what REALLY needs to be done. You can see it all clearly and decide what you can change. You can start to make a plan about how NOT to end up here again.
- Understand that fueling yourself in a healthy way is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT things you can do for yourself. If you don’t have time to make some food for yourself and your family most days out of the week then you need to do a time audit. Really pray about what can stay and what needs to go.
- Seek the Lord daily. We can get ourselves so turned around/upside down/and sideways when left to our own devices.
So maybe meal planning and prepping is foreign to you and feels like this huge insurmountable task. Start small. Dig out some old recipes. Hop on Pinterest and check out crockpot recipes or whatever you’re in the mood for. Get some inspiration!
Jot down 2 or 3 ideas and decide on a time to grocery shop when you’re not rushed. Think about some simple, healthy, but still quick & convenient things you can grab and toss into your lunch bag. ** You do bring a lunch bag or cooler, don’t you?? Wink, wink. This is a non-negotiable for me. My bag and bottled water goes with me everywhere I go. Being prepared is MOST of the battle.
Allow yourself the space & time to really examine your relationship with food. Be honest about how you may be using food instead of dealing with uncomfortable stuff in your life. I’ve found that one of the best things I can do for myself (although I also fight myself on this one) is get back in the kitchen and get cooking! ANYTHING homemade kicks the pants off of takeout.
For one, it forces me to slow down. I turn on a podcast of some classical music (might sound weird, but I find that I enjoy cooking to classical, who knew??). I get the satisfaction of knowing I prepared food for myself and my family. That food has a different ENERGY then takeout. Might sound woo-woo, but 𝙏𝙧𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙈𝙚 here!
And as ALWAYS…..be curious and have fun with it!