You and Your Food, a Love-Hate Relationship

You and food, now this is one relationship you are stuck with and it just might be the most complex relationship in your life.il_fullxfull.180052541

So what is “normal” in a healthy food related relationship? Yours is likely more complicated than you realize, which explains why a poll of more than 6,000 male and female readers of a well known Life style and Health Magazine found that nearly 30 percent feel stressed about food—every…single…day. (Even more report food anxiety at least occasionally.)

Sometimes that angst manifests in extreme ways: Approximately 5 percent of Western women will be diagnosed with an eating disorder at some point in their lives, and 36 percent are obese. But even among those of us whose approach to food isn’t physically unhealthy, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is totally free of food issues.

For many, it’s guilt about overeating or caving in to our favorite food craving or for things we know are not good for us but just can’t help ourselves. In other cases, it’s more of a quirk, like avoiding foods with a certain texture or color, or shuddering if our vegetables and meat touch. For most of us though, it’s the fact that food is much more than the simple fuel our ancestors considered it to be. Sneaking another square of chocolate could be considered a weakness, or a prize, or just a consolation to ones self after a hard day (or all three). So it doesn’t come as a surprise that our ambiguous attitude towards what we eat is such a part of our daily life?

So why do we love food one minute and hate it the next? Many reasons: physiology, genetics, and family and cultural baggage. But the relationship each of us has with the stuff we put into our mouths doesn’t have to be such a roller-coaster ride. Once we have a clearer picture of what precisely shapes our eating behavior, we can enjoy our food a whole lot more.

Do you have a “Sweet Tooth”? Just the phrase itself is misleading. Your teeth have absolutely nothing to do with your craving for sweet things. Actually it’s imbedded in your genes and that is because our taste predilections are actually coded in our DNA. Amongst the biological reasons for your taste preferences is the number of taste buds you have. Taste buds might not be thought of as the most significant of body parts, but the reason we even have them is really more of an alarm bell for nasty things we might inadvertently put into our mouths. Experts have long theorized that because toxic foods often taste bitter, the capacity to differentiate different flavors is part of the evolution to protect the species. And this in combination with our inherent DNA can determine what is your prevalence or aversion to certain foods.

But while a big portion of what we enjoy eating is driven by simple biology, much of it isn’t.

Some of it is learned and like everything else in life there are no absolute truths. For example according to scientific wisdom we will associate bitter flavors with poisonousness and the body will naturally reject them but we can actually learn to enjoy bitterness even become pleasantly addicted with frequent exposure. Just think coffee or beer!

So lets enter the confessional box and own up to our anxieties and confess that for at least a major part of the day we are thinking about what our next bite will be. Take breakfast for example (I am assuming you DO eat breakfast) “wow! Those sausages and that crispy bacon look great! Yeah but maybe I should go with the granola? Or maybe just one more slice of toast, its whole wheat so that ok right? “ Sound familiar?

I admit that at times I have these sorts of thoughts but not every single day. Just most of the time!!! So many issues that involve a decision-making nightmare, and I am sure that I am not alone in this food related roller coaster.

Our obsession with food usually swings with the mood we are in. When I am upset or worried about something I food binge like most normal people. Studies have shown that we over eat or “binge” when we are feeling stressed or depressed. I am sure that is how the phrase or concept of “comfort food” developed.

In my mind it is preordained that our eating habits are meant to be mood enhancing, a sort of legal drug that the self inflated Health gurus might frown upon but lets face it a good self indulgent and yes, unhealthy snack goes a long way in lifting the Blues.

Why let these “guilty pleasures” weight heavily on our conscience, which just affects adversely our mood, our productivity and attention span? If it tastes good it probably will make you feel good.

It is OK to surrender to food temptations but always do it in moderation. If you can.

There is no such thing as sinful food, just focus on appreciating that tidbit of bliss in your mouth. Don’t let that delicious feeling be spoilt by guilt. And if you feel that bad about it well there is always…exercise!

As long as I can remember food and people and their foods have fascinated me.

As a self-professed foodie I scour the social media and magazines for new food trends. I love to share photos of my favorite meals or food happenings varying from street foods and homemade meals to gourmet dining experiences.

The new viral visual culinary indulgence has spawned a whole generation of global foodies and I am more than appreciative to be a part of this trend. But I digress… Where does this help in facing our food demons? I guess it just reaffirms that there is more to life than counting calories and guiltily obsessing over what we eat. And it is more than heartening to realize that I don’t stand-alone when it comes to my food passions. My appetite with all things food expresses who I am and what I do.

Your relationship with food doesn’t have to be stressful. Eating can lift your spirits and believe me; life is too short to be worrying over inconsequential and minor issues like what and when we eat.

I now declare and hereby absolve you of all guilt and lay waste to unproductive and brain cell-damaging thoughts of food self-denial. From now on the next time you have to fight that feeling of guilty pleasure over whether or not to indulge in just one more slice of pizza, remember that your happiness comes first.

“All things foodie fascinates us, it dominates our very being.  From the day we first opened our eyes we cried to be fed, our first pleasure, it comforts, it warms our hearts and feeds our souls.

Bottom line: I don’t want to feel guilty, so I decided that the only thing I need to listen to is my body. If it’s craving something, then I can eat it. I don’t have to weigh up, calculate calories and fixate. My body tells me what it needs, I just need to listen. And then the Food Guilt evaporates.

So if food is one of our great pleasures, then let’s have a good time with it, in its entire sumptuous splendor.”





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