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Stuff, Starve or Savor? Your Relationship to Food (and Life)

How do you relate to food?

Do you deny yourself certain things because you feel you ‘should’?
Or splurge without limits?
Do you plan ahead, create gourmet experiences or just go with whatever’s on hand?
Do you tend to graze on autopilot?
Or maybe you eat ‘sensibly’ in public and then binge a bit when you’re alone (possibly with a double-helping of regret as the final course).

The reason I ask is because of an idea that British psychotherapist Tamarisk Saunders-Davies recently explored – that perhaps, as she puts it:

how you do one thing is how you do everything.”

The idea is that maybe there are clues to be found in just about all the patterns and habits you form. That how you eat or dress or drive or spend your money (or don’t) might reveal something much bigger about your approach to life.

What would you make of that if it were true?
What might it tell you about yourself?
(And would you want to do anything about it?)

In his book, “Savour: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life”, Thich Nhat Hanh (the world renowned Buddhist monk) takes all of this to an even deeper level, noting that “everything is interconnected.” That we’re constantly involved in a process he calls “interbeing.”

So maybe your relationship with food is not only about your relationship with your own life, but is also intertwined at some profound level with the world and with life itself.

So how do you want to relate to all of that?

And what about that little part of the world that you just happen to be the main custodian of – you. If everything’s interconnected, then what does it mean if you deprive or spoil or punish this little bit just because you can?

Thich Nhat Hanh suggests bringing mindfulness to the table. To try to really be present when you eat – and, in fact, when you ‘ingest’ anything (television, reading, conversations, relationships, experiences). To consciously be around when you’re taking it all in.

So what might it be like to really taste the fruits of life in this way, maybe even pondering their interconnectedness when you do that? Remembering the sunlight, the rain, the orchard and the seed when you eat an apple – as well as the farmer and the transport and the shopkeeper and all the other parts of the world that are infused in every bite.

From this perspective, you’re a part of a much larger picture. You, and all your patterns of being, matter. You’re connected. Part of the whole.

And what might it be like to learn to savor that?


Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Stuff, Starve or Savor? Your Relationship to Food (and Life)

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Stuff, Starve or Savor? Your Relationship to Food (and Life). Psych Central. Retrieved on March 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 5 Jun 2011
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jun 2011
Published on All rights reserved.