Does the food world seem as daunting and overwhelming to you as it does to me?
It is so challenging to try to figure out what kinds of foods we should put in our bodies, and just when you have started to feel good about what you are eating you are sure to hear about “the top 5 foods you should never eat” and realize it comprises half of your diet.
Keeping perspective in today’s food culture.
The diet culture can be absolutely relentless with their messaging that food is evil, carbs are the enemy, sugar is the enemy, fat is the enemy.
We are also inundated with messages that dieting is “easy” and you can achieve all your goals in just a few simple steps (so when we fail we feel that much worse because it was supposed to be EASY!).
I am often overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to model a positive relationship with food for my children, specifically my daughters while also trying to navigate the food world that we live in.
One thing that really helps me to keep things in perspective is to stop and consider the MANY wonderful purposes of food that have absolutely nothing to do with health or nutrition.
Sure, Health is a noble goal with regards to your nutrition and it is cetainly not something to be ignored entirely, BUT when we disregard the OTHER reasons we eat we are missing a very large piece to the puzzle and even if the number on the scale says we are “healthy” when we restrict and control our eating, your relationship with food might make you anything but.
The 5 powerful reasons we eat that are not health or nutrition
- For survival.
If you’re thinking that sounds a lot like health or nutrition, you’re right in some ways they have similarities, but health and survival are two very different ideals.
Someone who is focused on survival does not have the luxury of worrying about how much fat is in his meal or whether or not the eggs he’s eating are free range.
Restricting and controlling our food is a luxury afforded to us because we have an abundance of food.
I don’t know what your circumstances are, but even if you are not LITERALLY eating only for survival (as in you don’t know where your next meal is going to come from or how it will be paid for), you may be in survival mode because of other circumstances in your life.
As a mom of 3 kids 4 and under, I have spent a fair chunk of the last 4 years of my life in “survival mode”
And that’s okay, because survival is probably the most important reason we eat…because if we’re not alive, none of these other reasons matter much, do they?
If during these times you are subsisting on takeout, convenience, food, and whatever you can get your hands on, instead of feeling guilty take the time to assess your situation and accept that there is a season for everything.
I will have an upcoming episode on getting out of survival mode, but only when your life has slowed down to the point to make that possible.
Until then, just express some gratitude that the drive-thru exist and be on your merry way.
2. For culture and relationships
I have the fondest memories of visiting Puerto Rico as a chlid and making fry bread with my abuela, or gathering lemons from her lemon tree in the backyard.
I enjoyed wandering the island and enjoying piraguas (puerto rican snow cones), piña coladas, deep fried seafood empanidillas. The list goes on.
Only in my adult life do I realize, yikes, none of these foods were very healthy.
But these foods connect me to my family and culture, which is so important to me because I always felt a little distant from my hispanic culture growing up in the mountains of Utah.
I’m sure your food memories are different than mine, but I am willing to bet you have some connections to food that are not necessarily “healthy” by today’s definitions of the words, but that are important to you nonetheless. Culture and connection is one of the important reasons we eat.
3. To Cope with difficult emotions.
Emotional eating is one of the important reasons we eat.
Nutrition expert Ellyn Satter said this about emotional eating.
“it is natural to eat for emotional reasons. Eating can raise your spirits when you are low, soothe you when you are tense, and distract you when you are upset. We cook special meals to celebrate and we use food to help us connect with other people. But you abuse emotional eating when your feelings go straight to eating: when you feel upset and automatically reach for food to settle yourself down.“
Emotional eating is a natural response to difficult emotions, and only becomes a problem when it’s abused or it’s the only tool in your arsenal to handle difficult emotions…but if, like me, you like a bowl of ice cream to soothe you after a difficult day of motherhood give yourself from grace and understand that it’s natural and you’re finding resources to help you cope.
4. For fun
Is there anything more fun than planning a big superbowl party and creating a spread of delicious game day food to enjoy?
Okay, I will admit that I PROBABLY think about food and cooking just a little bit more than the average person, but I absolutely love putting together fun menus to enjoy with friends and family.
I hope you have good enough friends who want to hang out with you even when you’re not indulging with them, but let’s just admit that food can definitely add to the experience of parties and socializing.
5. To show love
Giada De Laurentiis said it best.
“Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love.”
My first instinct to help someone I love who is having a hard time is to bake them up something delicious to provide that comfort that we already talked about.
It’s important to experience love as one of the most powerful reasons we eat, and let that food prepared with love warm our souls and fill our bellies.
Which reason we eat is your favorite? Tell me about it below!
Also, if you want to make homemade meals a bigger part of your life you might not need a huge change, you might just need to up-level your meal planning.
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