Hi friend. My relationship to food has never been a straight line.
It’s been more of a zig-zag, or “2-steps-forward-1-step-back” situation. The last few years, I seem to have found steady ground, and I’ve spent the last few months trying to articulate it to myself in words so I can explain it better with my online communities.
I’m still figuring it out, but I’m going to start sharing more with those of you in my Brain Food community to start to explore some of these ideas and get your feedback.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much anxiety so many people have around food—including myself.
For a long time, I believed it was better just not to keep food in the house if I didn’t want to be tempted to eat it.
I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with making the choice not to buy certain foods to keep in the house—what I think is worth asking, though, is...
Am I telling myself there are certain foods that I can’t keep in the house—ones that, maybe, I actually love and would find joy in consuming sometimes?
Perhaps, foods that I end up depriving myself of due to their absence.
Foods that I try to satisfy my desire for with healthier alternatives that just don’t hit the mark?
To me, true Food Freedom is being able to keep those items in the house—but CHOOSE to eat them (or not), rather than depend on willpower to restrain myself. This is truly a skill.
There’s nothing wrong with healthier alternatives, either, however—if we’re truly happy with them!
For instance, I like to eat pasta, but I am no connoisseur.
I actually like the texture of chickpea pasta and other alternatives. I can taste the difference between these alternatives and regular pasta, but I’m not left missing the regular pasta or wishing it was the real deal on my plate. For me, this alternative is A-OK!
Bagels, on the other hand, are another story... I like the real deal.
I’ve tried the gluten-free versions (probably I’ve tried just about all of them), and they absolutely do not satisfy me.
For a long time, I tried to “convince” myself they were good enough, but I was always left longing for the gluten-rich variety…
If bagels aren’t your thing, though, it may not make a difference to you. Maybe you’re more of a pasta person.
The thing about this whole conversation around relationships with food is, it's an individual’s relationship to and with the food that matters—so mine will be different than yours, or someone else’s.
You may not buy bagels because you don’t care about bagels. I may not buy them because they give me anxiety.
It looks the same (lack of bagels in the house) but the intention and feeling are different (restriction/deprivation).
So, the question is not as simple as “do you let yourself keep junk food in the house?” But rather, “does keeping any food in the house give you anxiety?”
Maybe, it’s asking “do you FEAR foods?”
As I’ve been considering and confronting my own “FEAR” foods, it’s helped me to recognize them as “Foods with Emotional Attachment or Rules.” (F.E.A.R.)
This has helped take the edge off the “anxiety,” and put a clear name to what the fear really is: an escape from emotions, or a self-imposed rule.
Giving ourselves permission to engage with these foods will help us develop the skill to make a choice.
This is, essentially, giving ourselves permission to make peace with food.
Dieting and emotional eating hasn’t come out of nowhere.
There’s nothing wrong with us for having been consumed by it—but it is our responsibility to find awareness, which can lead to Food Freedom.
Do you have any FEAR foods? What about food gives you anxiety? Does dieting or emotional eating seem to be more of an issue? What’s helped you find peace with food?
I am so excited to share more all month long!
Light and love,