In our diet-obsessed, restriction-focused society it seems hard enough to have a healthy relationship with food, let alone a love affair with eating.
Many people worry that enjoying eating will lead to scary consequences. That they’ll eat everything in sight, and won’t be able to control themselves. And many are just so used to seeing food as the enemy, as the very thing that stands in the way of their weight-loss goals or flawless figures.
And the very idea that we can enjoy food is not just scary, but also strange. It seems novel given the cultural climate we’re in, where food is vilified and categorized into good and bad. Where people scorn their cravings and hunger signals.
That’s why I wanted to share Dr. May’s thoughts on eating here. She writes:
Just like a relationship with a partner, your thoughts and feelings about food reveal the state of your relationship. Would you say that your relationship with food reflects love, care, curiosity, anticipation, joy, and contentment? Or is it boring, predictable, taken for granted – or even abusive?
Since this is an important lifelong relationship, perhaps it’s time to reignite that spark by having a love affair with your food. I don’t mean the secretive, cheating kind of affair. I mean rediscovering the reason you fell in love in the first place.
Because there’s nothing wrong with enjoying eating or loving food. In fact, she says that “I believe that healing your relationship with food requires you to love food more, not less.”
As she explains, “When you really love someone, you spend time with them, give them your full attention, and respect them.” She suggests taking yourself out on a special dinner (or lunch) date.
I know that changing one’s relationship with food isn’t that simple. But this is a good first step in starting to enjoy food, getting curious about what you like and don’t like (not based on what some diet says) and learning to nourish yourself.
These are Dr. May’s excellent tips on how to do just that (taken verbatim from her newsletter with permission):
- Take yourself OUT to dinner; lunch is fine too if you don’t want to rush into anything.
- Select a special restaurant where you are unlikely to run into anyone you know so you can enjoy the experience privately. It doesn’t need to be expensive—just known for its great food and ambience. Choose a place you’ve always wanted to go or one that has been highly recommended by the concierge, a food critic, or a trusted foodie.
- Dress for the occasion so you feel your best—you’re worth it!
- Leave your book, computer, and other distractions at home; put your phone in airplane mode so you won’t be disturbed.
- Ask for the best table, preferably one with a window view—or my favorite, a view of the staff preparing your meal!
- Take your time perusing the menu, asking questions, and paying attention to what really appeals to you. Skip the buffet, the ordinary, the healthiest, or the cheapest items unless that is what you really want. Keep in mind that you don’t want to ruin this special occasion by feeling stuffed so order only as much food as you can comfortably enjoy without regret.
- Linger over your meal. Be selective; don’t bother eating a second bite of anything that isn’t fabulous. Appreciate the appearance and aromas and savor every bite.
- Stay tuned into your body language. You may be surprised to notice clear signals of satisfaction when you slow down and truly enjoy your food.
- Hint: When you find yourself compelled to take a picture of your lovely food, you’ll know you’ve fallen back in love!
You can sign up for Dr. May’s newsletter here (at the top).
What do you think of these tips? What’s helped you heal your relationship with food and enjoy eating?