When someone says the word ‘relationships’, it sets off a stream of images of romance, couples, even friendships, but what has recently arrested my attention is people’s relationships with food.
Supermarkets are brimming full of Halloween candy and offers on festive mince pies seem to bounce off TV adverts. Food can be a topic of seemingly endless exciting fashions and trends. First the juicing trend, then the superfoods, kale and quinoa and vegetable desserts like sweet potato brownies. But for some people, food can be more problematic.
Many people suffer from an eating disorder of some form and may be fearing family time around a table laden with food, worried about the calorie and fat content of each and every mouthful. People use food as a weapon, some people turning to it for comfort in emotional times and some people restricting their intake in pursuit of the perfect body. Our relationships with food are complex and highly personal. The choices we make on what we put into our bodies to provide them with nutrients may seem fairly instinctive and easy to some, but other people find simple tasks such as food shopping incredibly difficult.
If someone you care about is exhibiting patterns such as choosing to eat alone, weight loss, pickiness with food, it can be difficult to know how to start a conversation off about their relationship with food. Most people would much rather sweep it under the carpet and forget about it. Nevertheless, once an eating disorder takes hold of someone in its firm grip, it can become more and more difficult to rescue someone from its relentless hold. Simply speak to them, ask them how they feel about food and their body, then listen, without interrupting.
I believe many people have complex relationships with food, perhaps evidenced by growth of the market for zero/ low calorie foods. Walden farms have a range of products ranging from chocolate spreads to peanut butter that contain less than 5 calories per serving. Body building brands have ‘zero syrups’ which contain almost no calories or fat. There are even zero noodles… this implies that ‘bad’ foods with high calories or carb rich, should be avoided or substituted, almost as though our bodies do not deserve the real thing. Has our society been reduced to calorie obsessed, body conscious individuals who fear fatness? Statistics of 66% of UK adults being obese suggest otherwise. Maybe the introduction of these low calorie foods are detracting from the real message, that all types of food are useful fuels in moderation. Learning to eat what our bodies want and need rather than to achieve a certain body type/ what we emotionally crave is a more important way to stay sane than constantly dieting or trying to lose weight.
I’ll finish by saying, everyone relies on their bodies to live, to carry us around and interact with others, we should try to get into the habit of focusing more on being happy and staying healthy than over reading nutritional values/ over analysing our diet if we can. Instead of supersizing the flaws with your bodies, supersize your self-worth and confidence.