I can often tell how I feel emotionally by the foods and drinks that I consume.
Granted, I’m largely a healthy eater.
When I say healthy eater I mean that I’m a balanced eater.
Because this article is not written from the perspective of a nutritionist or a dietitian or a physician or a psychologist, but from the vantage point of a recovered anorexic, who is overly analytical in general, and who spent an awful lot of my life discovering how my previous food aversions and disorder can actually be a helpful guide for self-discovery.
And I’m here to share a few of the most basic things I’ve learned.
1. Food is our friend and when it’s not, we are not acting as our own friends.
The simplest conclusion that I’ve come to on this journey to be a healthy eater or, rather, a healthy individual for whom food is both nourishment and satisfaction, but not an over-indulgence, is this: that our relationship with food says a ton about our relationship with ourselves.
If we are restricting food, we are restricting self-love.
If we are over-indulging in food, we are craving more self-love.
This is an obviously overly simplified version of this concept, but I find it to be true again and again in my life.
2. Craving crap is part habit and part “I’ve given up.”
There’s absolutely scientific research that shows that, especially, synthetic and sugary foods cause us to crave more of these fillers.
I say filler foods because they are loaded with junk our bodies do not need and distinctly lacking in nutritional density.
When we crave these foods and over-dose on these foods we, for one, are in a negatively spiraling habit-cycle that needs, frankly, will power to stop and, for another, we often have bought into the false notion that we are not worth cooking for, that we can’t afford better food, that we don’t have time to eat better food and, let me tell you, these ideas are as crappy as this fare.
3. Being too “healthy” of an eater is not healthy.
Food tastes good for a reason—it is meant to be enjoyed.
Life is meant to be enjoyed.
Often, when we eat “clean” and always avoid “unhealthy”—usually deemed “unhealthy” either by ourselves or current marketing standards—we are neglecting more than a little indulgence—we are neglecting and depriving ourselves of pleasure.
4. Gluttony and over-indulgence are not pleasurable.
That said, over-indulging on a regular basis, with the excuses of “treating ourselves” or “I deserve this” or any other aspect of “love” involved is not the best way to show our emotions—or our bodies—love.
Over-indulgence is not self-care.
4. On alcohol.
I, personally, have a finicky relationship with alcohol.
I’ve seen it destroy lives, alcoholism runs in my family and, on top of this, I want to display for my children a diet of moderation, including—within this dietetic scheme—alcoholic beverages.
That said, I read a recent post by a friend, and she was letting us know that she has given up alcohol for the time being, as it’s become something not good for her.
She said, too, that it was once shared with her that over-consumption or too-regular consumption of alcohol is often a way that we let ourselves fall apart at a speed and rate that we can handle, when we are, most assuredly, falling apart in some way, be it emotionally, mentally, physically, or a combination of these states.
While I am not the person to declare alcohol dichotomously bad or good, I do continually check in with myself, as a drinker, with my intention—for me this is key.
If I neeeeeeed a drink, I practice yoga first. I don’t want alcohol to be something I need, but, instead, something I enjoy.
Because here’s the larger thing:
5. Our choices become our habits become our lifestyle become our days become our lives become our stories.
I want my story to include fabulous meals and company over food, and it’s okay if my story occasionally involves disordered eating in some way, because, for me, I’ve found that I can use my honest relationship with food as a completely healthy, helpful tool for self-care.
I don’t expect to be perfect.
Sometimes I expect my diet to be perfect—and that’s when I check in with why.
Where do I feel a lacking in my life or myself that I find a need to create a pretend-controlled environment.
Life cannot be controlled.
It can be experienced and appreciated, like good food.
It can be regimented, like our diets can be.
But life, whether we like it or not, will never be wholly within our control, and thank goodness—some of the best things in my life have happened because fate took a detour, even with all of my hard work to be on a neatly specific path.
That said, I believe in effort, in both life and in my relationship with food.
Wonderful dinners for both myself and my family will not make themselves.
Writing a book will not happen unless I work on it.
My relationship with my husband also at times takes my effort to feel good because relationships, even when filled with the most soulful of love, will have challenges.
So here’s what I’m offering up today. I’m suggesting that we spend less time judging ourselves and judging others for their food choices and more time learning about ourselves and other people through them.
Because that old saying just might be true: food is—or can be—a display of love.
Photo: Flickr/Healthy Red Tomatoes…