Food and You

healthy familyFood is an interesting thing, our lives seem to revolve around it and rightly so, if we didn’t eat, simply we would die. But for a very large percentage of the population we can tend to have an unhealthy relationship with it. My hope after reading this is that food and you become good friends.

Food and You

Food Relationships. You may be wondering why I am referring to food as a “relationship”, well in my option it most certainly is. Food is usually consumed at times when we feel, (mind you a lot of what we feel at the time is temporary), it can help us feel comforted when we feel sad or depressed, companionship when we feel lonely, happy when we are celebrating, at ease when we feel stressed. Food can be our “friend” if we eat healthily, or our “enemy” if we don’t. Food is present at family get togethers. Our night-time meal becomes our time during the day to catch up with our immediate family and Weddings, Birthdays, Funerals, Sporting Wins and even Losses, all revolve around food. We catch up with friends for lunch, or at least a coffee and cake, and we make a night of it going out with our spouse or partner for a dinner date, the list goes on and on. Our lives are inundated with food…thus you could easily say we have a relationship with food. Be careful talking to it though, you may get some very strange looks!! Can you see the importance of having a healthy relationship with food?

Not long ago our town was a flash flooding, we were very fortunate not to go under as the water was lapping at our back door and at the front it was rising minute by minute literally before our eyes. The street was flooded and of course it was time to pick up our girls from school. There was absolutely no way we were going to get out on time and as it was it wasn’t until about 7pm that night until we were able to get the car out of the drive way. Just so you know the girls were safe and happy and stayed at a friends house for the night (we were cut off from them even when we could get out). But anyway, while the flood waters were rising we did every thing we could to lift everything that could be lifted from the floor (the insurance claim hassle wouldn’t have been worth the bother), once all that was done I proceeded to make my way to the kitchen cupboard and unconsciously got the container of Corn Flakes out of the cupboard and began to devour handfuls of the stuff. Of all things why Corn Flakes? Where was the chocolate? Suddenly my niece – who was living with us at the time – asked me “what the heck are you doing?” Well we all just cracked up laughing as I answered “I have no idea!!” Can you guess what I do in stressful situations? I do know people though who do not eat when stressed. But thank goodness I don’t have much stress in my life, I think I may be 10 times larger than I am! What I find amazing though, with this story is the point that I didn’t even realise I was eating!! Isn’t food an interesting thing?

My History with Food

I grew up, and mind you not to anyone’s fault – it is just the way things were – with an interesting relationship with food.

With one adult in my family, their expectations were that we must go back for “seconds” or we would be insulting them and their cooking, and in a lot of cultures this is the way things were and still are.

Unfortunately, especially, for a child, this kind of eating habit begins to form very unhealthy relationship with food. Why force or manipulate someone to have seconds, when they are full, just so the cook feels better? Mind you I do realise that many growing children are genuinely still hungry, and by all means this is totally acceptable to go back for more, but a child should never be force-feed for satisfaction just so the cook feels better about what they just served up.

Another family member, bribed me to go out with them to the football, I was not interested footy at all, and they would buy me my favourite food just so I would go. This is quite funny, though it can be a serious matter if used all the time as “rewards”, but more on that later. By the way I did say YES!!

Then at home, as a single parent, my Mum battled to keep food on the table, and she did an amazing job at that. So we were taught not to be fussy and eat what was given to us and just be thankful for the meal. I just have to say my Mum did amazing job raising my sister and myself she never let us go without, she would work 3 jobs at a time to provide for us. Meat was a rarity in our house and oh man do I love and appreciate meat today. But as a funny story, one day my Mum was given wait for it….yes lambs brains!!! Now I do apologize to you if you are reading and you find lambs brains a delicacy, but even to this day I do think I would just prefer a dry piece of toast instead…anyway my Mum was and still is an amazing cook (her dream is to open her own Café) and she did the best that she could with the meal. She crumbed and shallow fried the brains, and then she served them with runny poached eggs!!! Even though it was 25 years ago, I still remember the horror of it all!!! To cut open the brains and then cut into the eggs and having it all just run into each other. Oh my…we just all gagged and yes ended up having that toast after all, even Mum!!! But on the serious side it was just amazing how much food people gave us – the generosity of people we didn’t even know was just amazing!!

Then there was another family member who used food as a “control issue” or as “manipulation”, when I was a teenager. I got sucked into this manipulation. I dearly respected this person and who they were to me, but unfortunately their misconception and control when it came to food (plus most other things) was quite twisted, but at the time I did not know any better. Now I didn’t have a weight problem nor did I have health problem ie. allergies, which if that was the case well that is totally a different story. But this particular adult began to change or manipulate my behaviour when it came to food by their behaviour and “control issues” to the point where I became very under weight for my height. I made sure I only ate a certain amount of calories a day (which I now know was not enough), and I made sure that I did enough exercise to “hopefully” burn that off. I remember in the mornings, if I didn’t wake up with hunger pains, I just wasn’t happy. I did try to make myself thinner by vomiting after meals, but this, thank you God, was not successful…I will leave you with your imagination to think about what path I was heading down.

Mind you peer pressure also contributed to an unhealthy relationship, but that is another story altogether…

As adults we have a huge responsibility to help our children’s relationship with food be a healthy one. I just find it amazing to think about all the memories I have in relationship to food and the habits that can form from childhood to adulthood!!

In regards to any of the family members that I am sharing about, I do not hold any unforgiveness to the ways I was brought up around food, they did their best with what they knew. There was and is still no instruction manual for raising children (although there are some amazing books out there today) and to be honest I am thankful that I was raised in a family that at least had 3 meals a day. But I am sharing these stories to show you how our upbringing has a huge impact on our relationship with food.

Our decision is, do we allow these unhealthy food relationships to continue to dominate our eating habits today, or do we wipe the slate clean and begin a new healthy journey of food discovery. I have chosen the latter and my hope is to help you discover that “food” and “eating” are not dirty words. Good Luck!!!