The most important relationship we will ever have is the one we have with ourselves. After that comes our relationship with basic nourishment, and then our relationships with others. Strangely enough, it seems to be the other way around for most of us. We worry so much about our relationships with others that we often forget about ourselves, and our basic food nourishment falls even lower on the importance scale than our relationships with others. This means that many times, when, what, and how we eat are done according to the schedules of others.
In my work with clients, I often see how difficult it is for someone to change their food habits because of the other people in their lives. The difficulties can be caused by anything from work, friends, and family to our social environment and duties. Most of us need to fight for our own food choices. It’s not because there’s not enough food (as used to be the case), but simply because our significant other or friends see our individual food choices as a challenge to the relationship.
When did we get to this place where the depth of our relationships is what’s shared on the plate? When did we forget to be in touch with our own needs and start worrying about accommodating someone else’s needs? We have the right to eat what feels good to us and to our own body’s needs.
But for us to develop a right relationship with food, we first have to develop a right relationship with ourselves. We often eat not for nourishment, but for comfort, emotional comfort that is. Rather, we eat ourselves out of emotional discomfort. This is also why it can be easier to eat what a partner wants to eat, to prevent us from being in a situation of conflict over food.
But that only works in the short run. In the long run, our health and well-being will suffer. In the short term, our mood will suffer and so will our relationship with ourselves and others. We end up feeling angry or resentful that we’re not being respected for our desires and needs. This is where I would like for you to stop and reflect. Who is the first person who should respect your needs and desires? You are.
This also means that you need to be gently honest with yourself about which foods truly nurture you and which are the comfort foods that keep us from experiencing ourselves.
Look for your triggers. Are you eating because you’re sad, mad, scared, or stressed about something? Personally, I know I need to not get too frustrated or else I’ll find myself by the cupboard looking for something to calm myself down. But I can also choose to stop for a moment, notice what I’m feeling, and ask myself why I’m frustrated right now. What would I like to be different? How can I make it so? Then go and do that, if you can. Reflecting during these moments will allow us to wake up to all the times we eat for the wrong reasons.
So let’s get into a right relationship with ourselves, where our basic nourishment from food supports us. Then we can then be in a right and loving relationships with others that will nourish our entire being.