I love food. Going out for meals is one of my favourite things to do and I’m pretty sure chocolate literally soothes my soul. But do you know what I love more than food? I love loving food.
I love that I can go to Byron, eat a burger and shake and not feel a shred of guilt.
It wasn’t always that way.
I’ve already mentioned this (and I promise I’ll stop going on about it soon!) but in my teen years I had anorexia. I guess it’s been on my mind as we’re planning a campaign at work to support Eating Disorder Awareness Week. As part of that, yesterday we filmed a video of me reading and reacting to diary entries I wrote during that time. The idea is to help people understand what people going through it feel like, why it’s hard to reach out for support and how I got through it.
And let me tell you, going through my old diaries wasn’t pretty. Reading back, it stemmed from me feeling unattractive to the opposite sex and unseen. I thought if I lost weight, I would be ‘thin and pretty and boys will like me’ (these were my exact words).
I treated myself pretty horrendously. Food was the enemy. If I ‘binged’ I would enforce punishment on myself. In my diaries I wrote out what I was telling myself in my head, and I was… mean. I was also very swear-y (some things don’t change then).
Developing a healthy relationship with food
I did a lot of work inside and outside of therapy sessions to change the way I see food. As I touched on in my body image post, it’s still something I actively have to balance. Losing my fear and hatred towards food however, has been glorious.
Yes, there’ll be the odd occasion when I’ll overindulge and not feel great about it, but generally I feel just fine. And in a strange way, I’m almost thankful for my past issues because I think perhaps I look at food in a better light than many.
Eating clean and being super selective with what you eat is very on trend right now – and I think this actually has potential to be damaging. People start to see certain foods as ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’, and this can be dangerous.
Yes, some foods are less nutritious than others (Big Mac anyone?), but when we start restricting ourselves and labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we fall into a mindset that saps the joy out of eating and I don’t think that’s healthy.
The joy of eating
Having a healthy relationship with food, to me, means enjoying eating. I’m not saying we should all go out and eat what we want all the time (God, wouldn’t that be great though?), I’m saying take pleasure in food and enjoy the foods that nourish your soul… in moderation.
That’s what it’s all about really isn’t it? And we all know that.
It’s about eating food that nourishes your body most of the time, and food that nourishes your soul some of the time.
Struggling to get your head around it? Here are a few ways to rediscover the joy of eating:
- Fancy some chocolate? Buy a small bar of fancy, rich, expensive chocolate and savour every mouthful. Don’t chomp on cheap chocolate mindlessly in front of the TV – you’ll overeat and feel sick. Enjoy this moment of pure indulgence!
- Learn more about cooking. Get inspired and experiment! Relying on ready-made ingredients gets boring and if you’re making something yourself, you know what’s going into it.
- Eat a meal you enjoyed in childhood. What was your favourite food growing up? Go out, buy it and travel back to a time when food was fun.
- Plan a meal out with friends. Order the pasta, get a glass of red and yes, get dessert!
Obviously as a nation, obesity is a growing problem (pun intended) and there’s a difference between loving food and endangering your health.
This is why we need to educate ourselves. Learn what foods we need more of and which ones to enjoy in moderation. If you’re struggling, speak to a nutritionist – but please don’t cut out entire food groups because you think they’re ‘bad’.
Work on your relationship with food and your relationship with yourself.
Love yourself enough to take pleasure in food, because as Julia Child so eloquently put it:
“People who love to eat are always the best people”
Anyone else hungry?