Monday, May 3, 2010

Many different types of relationships with food

I'm always curious to see what and how other people eat.  Everybody seems to have a different relationship with food.  For some each bite is a huge pleasure, for some it is a nuisance to have to eat, others eat like a bird for fear of gaining weight.   Some take a lunch break to eat with friends, others eat in front of the computer (myself included), and others don't have any routine and seem to even forget to eat.  I sometimes feel that I'm the only one that has quirks when it comes to feeding myself, but when I take the time to observe, I see that this is not the case.

Quirks aside, I think it is sad that so many of us have a painful relationship with food.  While I'm learning that I don't need to be afraid of calories, I have spent a lot of time worrying about weight gain even during periods of time that I have been underweight.  I'm starting to gain some now and I feel healthier for it, my fear is going away and I actually look forward to reaching my natural weight whatever it really is.

There is so much fear when it comes to food, I think it is a major problem in our society.  But what is the source of this?  I think there are many social issues, but I'm not confident that they are the root of the problem.  Pressure to be thin while being bombarded with fast food advertisements certainly encourages a confused relationship with food, but I think the issue is really deeper than that.  I think that food is often used to replace something else that is missing in our lives, even though there is no way that it can do so.  Is it friendship?  Romantic relationships?  Having purpose?  I don't know exactly, but I feel that for me when my relationship to food gets chaotic I am trying to find some sort of comfort in it.  Either comfort in giving in to my cravings, or the comfort that comes from following a strict program.

I feel that these may be at the root of the problem, although I find it it bit on the mushy side.  I think the reason that food can serve as such a comfort is that it does have a direct effect on our brain chemistry.  By releasing serotonin, beta-endorphins, and dopamine, we can try to artificially create the feelings that we are missing.  I think if my brain chemistry was fine in the first place, I wouldn't have cravings or overeat certain foods.

I think that whatever our relationship to food may be, it can teach us a lot about ourselves and how we relate to the world.  What we eat literally becomes us, so how our relationship to it not be meaningful?


  1. i am learning to withdrawal my attachment to food. as a recovering anorexic, i relate a lot to your post. i need to allow my body to end up where it naturally is happy.

    i have a lot of rituals/habits i am slowly breaking(eatnig in front of the computer being one of them) and i need to learn to eat, get over it, and get on with it so to say because to much time i manipulated and overthought on something that is only required to run my body.

    i am a savvy for brain chemistry and have looked a lot into it as well.

  2. Hi malpaz, thanks for the comment. I find it difficult to remove the attachment to food. Especially having quit smoking recently, it is easy to replace one craving for another.

    I like what you say about eating and getting on with it. That is an attitude I would like to develop, so that not to much time and energy goes into thinking what the next meal will be, and so on. Lately that has been getting better and I have not been eating much sugar. I do eat in front of the computer all the time, is that a bad thing? ;)

    I think when I was doing well with food attachment was when following low-carb paleo-ish type diet, although it was only for about 6 weeks. I'm not sure that it is a way of eating that would be sustainable for me.