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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Longest Relationship in This Life: Food

Shortly after we come screaming into this life and usually shortly before we leave it, there is food.

When you really think about it, your relationship with food is generally the longest relationship you'll ever have.  What are you doing to keep that relationship healthy in a world where eating has become a battleground, a daunting chore, or ignored all together (mindless eating on the couch or in the car)? How you view food, eating and cooking not only affects your own personal health and relationship with food, but your family members and others around you as well.  Now, before you start to get huffy and stop reading, don't worry.  This is not a soapbox for me to preach fear and guilt.  In fact, it is the complete opposite.  In the world of marketing - especially when it comes to nutrition - fear and guilt sell.  But that isn't what food should be about.

Eating is: 

  • Joy
  • Anticipation
  • Social
  • Nourishing
  • Comforting
  • Cultural
  • Identity
  • Renewing
  • Pleasurable

Food and eating is not:

  • Guilt
  • Fear
  • Medicine
  • Confusing
  • Difficult
  • A chore
  • Frustrating
So how is your relationship with food?  Is it healthy?  Has it been damaged? Is it improving or going down the disposal with last night's tasteless leftovers?  

There are all sorts of quizzes you can take to help assess the state of your food-relationship and here is a link to one of my preferred quizzes: Renfrew Center Quiz  In the meantime, here are a few questions to start you thinking in the right direction.  
  1. Do you feel anxious or worried about food or eating, especially in a social situation?
  2. Do you find yourself labeling foods as good or bad, or yourself as good or bad depending on what foods you've eaten?
  3. Do you find yourself frequently in an extreme state of hunger or fullness?
  4. Do you forbid yourself certain foods with no medical cause (allergy, etc)?
  5. Do you feel unable to know how to eat healthy?
Anytime you consider making a change to your eating routine or following a specific diet, watch for certain "red flags".  Answering "no" to any of these questions is a definite warning sign.
  • Does this eating plan allow me to enjoy all food groups?
  • Would you feel comfortable if your 5 or 6 year-old son/daughter/niece/etc. were to follow this eating plan?
  • Is this plan something that I can maintain happily for the rest of my life?
In a nutshell (yes, I love food-related euphemisms) - cook, eat with family and friends, savor your food, listen to your body, and strive for moderation and balance.  There is no magic bullet, nor is there any one villain to blame for our woes.  I think that if we spent as much time in the kitchen cooking as we do worrying and reading about the latest health craze, we'd all be in much better shape. Real food feeds the body as well as the soul, so keep it real and find enjoyment in your life-long relationship with food. 

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