What Is Your Relationship With Food?

Weight and height are used in computing body m...

Weight and height are used in computing body mass index, an indicator of risk for developing obesity-associated diseases. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before you start your post-Labor Day diet, pause. Ask yourself a few questions. Ask yourself, “Why am I in this yo-yo, up-down, love-hate relationship with food?” Or “Why do I always feel guilty after eating? Why does eating and food bring me such shame?” It is important to understand that there are many different types of relationships with food. What are they? Where do you fall on the following spectrum? Read on to find out. And perhaps you will change your mind completely about indulging vs. dieting, and decide on a better route.

The Punisher

Food is the enemy. You are in a def-con 5 battle, stuck behind enemy lines. Everything you eat is laden with hidden landmines, bombs, grenades, and hand-to-hand combat. Food provides only pain and suffering. In your mind, no matter what you eat, you will gain weight, you will get fat, you will be punished.

The Shameful Coddler

Food is comfort, it is what gives you hugs when you are low, it is what you turn to when the big bad world outside is bringing you down. It is your woobie blanket. You turn to rich, fatty foods like mac-n-cheese, fried chicken, ice cream, and the like to get your dose of comfort. But after you reach for your chips, your dip, your Ben n Jerry’s, you are riddled with shame. You are guilty of over-indulgence, and for that, you will suffer the consequences.

The Militant

Not unlike The Punisher, The Militant is an over-zealot. The Militant adheres to the strictest of strict diets, never deviating, never indulging, never truly enjoying. It is a battle of wits and control, and only the most severe wins. However, a crack always seems to form in The Militant’s armor, and when it does, the flood gates open and an all-out binge-fest is on its way.

The Hedonist

Everything about food is sensual to The Hedonist. Everything is about the Now moment. There are no limits, no holds barred. The Hedonist will dine on the smorgasbord of extravagance until, over-full and  bursting at the seams, she is simply unable to move, unable to function. She too goes into a guilt-shame spiral, until The Hedonist rears her ugly head again.

All of these eating relationships have one thing in common: deprivation. Deprivation is a mental state you put yourself into when you make things off-limits, taboo, or wrong. Any time we make something we love the enemy, like food, we run the risk of going into a deprivation-state binge. And this is why so many people yo-yo up and down with their weight, their eating habits, and their diet. We must reexamine the way we look at food and determine a new relationship.

The Nourisher

This is the relationship I think everyone should have with food. It is the combination of understanding the science behind the food we eat, combined with embracing the emotional comfort and joy eating provides. It is about finding a balance with food. It is about listening to your body’s cues as well as understanding what is happening inside yourself in regards to your emotions. It is about determining the difference between the two. It is about being aware, conscious, and is about making all of your choices from a mindful place. Yes, it is mindful eating.

When you truly listen to your body, it is usually pretty good about telling you what you need. And when you listen to your heart and mind, they too are very good at indicating what is right and what is wrong inside. It is as simple as taking the time to listen to all three: body, head and heart. So the next time you are tempted to try this or that diet, or you hear your old Punisher or Coddler in the back of your mind telling you what you should do, pause. Listen to what your body, heart and mind are saying, and then take the next step from that informed place. The Nourisher in you will thank you.


2 thoughts on “What Is Your Relationship With Food?

  1. A coddler/nourisher? I guess I’m not so bad. Honestly, though, when I feel really down (i.e. not just a bad moment), I become a different type: Depriver/Forgetter. It’s great for (unhealthy) weight loss and, fortunately, doesn’t last longer than a week.

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