We’re finally here for our last instalment of our relationship with food series! So far we’ve talked about the importance of really seeing where you’re at with food, how to navigate your past history with food so we can learn from it, I’ve shared so much of my own journey with dieting, and the huge relief and healing that came when I found intuitive eating and how I managed to find the balance between that and my choice to be vegan. I also shared so many great resources, as we discussed emotional eating, and I gave you some amazing tools to help understand our emotions, all in the hopes that food goes back to being simple (you can find all the posts and episodes in this series here).
The truth is I could go on and on with different topics and smaller aspects of what has helped me heal my relationship with food and why this is an ongoing journey, but for now I think we’ve got plenty to work with along with some of the previous series like our bikini revolution series, and our body image series. The only topic that I had yet to mention was exercise, because yes, usually, when we’re working through our relationship with food and body, we need to talk about movement.
We’re back with part 5 of our relationship with food series, and today I’ll be sharing some amazing resources that will be so helpful on your journey to a better place with food, especially when it comes to emotional eating. We’ll be talking about how normal it is to see food as part of our coping tools (eating for reasons other than hunger is a part of normal eating and emotions play a part in this), and what can help when it has become the only coping tool. I’ll share a resource that has been enormously helpful in understanding emotions and anxiety, and we’ll talk about how there isn’t just one side of us running the show when it comes to our eating, and how we can begin to nourish the different sides of us, with and without food.
It’s not uncommon that from a very early age, those of us who have had a hard time dealing with difficult emotions, have also found our way to using food as a coping mechanism. For many of us food was associated with early rewards, or it was used to help us deal with tough emotions such as sadness, grief, anxiety or worry. For some of us the restriction of food was used as punishment, or perhaps fun foods were only permitted when we had been “good”. For some of us (myself included), food became a great way to momentarily escape situations we were not prepared to face or weren’t old enough to face. For many of us it was the way family members showed love and affection, for others it was a door to a calm space, away from difficult circumstances. For some food was where you turned to when you’d had a bad day, or perhaps it was the way your culture expressed its sense of community and enjoyment. Whatever our origin, most of us have learned from pretty early on that food is a point of connection, of celebration, of reward, and it can be a way to cope with difficult situations or emotions.
We’re back with part 4 of our relationship with food series in which we’re going to dive in a bit deeper into the role restriction can play in our relationship with food, how saying goodbye to restriction might be a huge help, and how being vegan, or making other dietary choices for ethics, religious beliefs, etc., fits into this.
As you know, in this series of shorter episodes and posts I’m guiding you through a little journey towards the resources, tools and general mindset we can access to help us improve our relationship with food. For me it was a journey of many ups and downs, navigating emotional eating, overeating, occasional binges, and even more frequent dieting and restricting. Then came an over-obsession on eating “healthy”, “clean” and “pure” foods. It took me a long time to find the resources and amazing experts that would finally give me the tools that helped, but my hope is that I can be here to present them to you, so that you can go through this process with the guiding hand of the incredible pros and qualified experts that helped me so much.
The Pitcher of Water
When I got started on my journey, through all the different steps and stages I’ve been telling you about in this series, I soon realized that restricting foods was like a pitcher of water that was holding me inside. It gave me the false sense that my issues with food were contained and under control. The thing is though, that restriction and dieting are also like a water tap that can’t be turned off, countless rules and regulations that keep getting piled up on top of each other until you can’t hold them any longer. Eventually, there’s just too much water in the pitcher and it overflows and makes a mess in the kitchen.
Last week in our relationship with food series we talked about the importance of safely, and from a distance, going on a little exploration journey. I asked you to look back at some of your stories and personal history with food to learn from it and view it with as much kindness as you could muster. For me, the first step in improving my relationship with food was taking an honest look at where I was with food, acknowledging that I was struggling and where that struggle was actually coming from. The very next step was taking inventory. I had to look back at my history with food and all the damage that going on endless diets had done, understanding that so many of my struggles with overeating and emotional eating came from this self-imposed restriction and focus on control and perfectionism. Soon after going on this little self discovery journey, it was time for me to see a different side of the equation, and it’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Body image was what was usually behind many of my habits with food and exercise and yet it was so incredibly difficult for me to see. So much of my focus was on healing what I considered to be my only problem: I would sit down to eat and paid no attention to my body’s cues, I would overeat until the point in which I was severely uncomfortable, and I would emotionally eat using food as my only coping tool to deal with difficult emotions. Just as I hadn’t seen the negative role restriction had played in my relationship with food, I would only see food as the culprit, food as the problem, food as my nemesis, food as something I needed to gain control over.
I’m so excited to bring you part 2 of our relationship with food series. Last week we talked about getting started on this journey by digging in deep, and noticing where were are when it comes to our relationship with food. I shared what really changed when I decided to look into these issues, and I talked about how every year this is a process of self discovery in which I get to see different sides to it and I continue to heal and make peace with food.
Today’s topic will be a bit shorter than last week’s because most of the work is going to be done by you, at home. Yes, there will be a bit of homework for you, as we’ll probably have in most of the episodes and posts in this series.
One fun little fact about the topic at hand today is that my whole process of healing my relationship with food began with looking into my food stories to share them with you. It was all in an old blog I used to have, and sadly I hadn’t realized (and wouldn’t realize for a while), that those stories were going to mark the beginning of a journey for me.
In fact when I dug into these stories the first time, I could only see the instances in which I was overeating, emotionally eating, sometimes bingeing, and was looking through them as a way to find how on Earth I was going to restrict and eliminate those behaviors through weight loss attempts. I had not yet seen what I told you about last week, that my stories of restricting foods and dieting had been the source of the problem, yet I had ignored them and focused on what I thought the “bad” habits with food were. I hadn’t seen what I know now, that my past history with dieting and restriction had been the cause, not the aftermath of so many of my issues with food. Back then I also hadn’t seen how my stories with body image and feelings toward my body had in many cases preceded my efforts to diet and restrict.
This is why looking at our stories with food and body image, exercise, dieting, emotional eating, etc., are so important when it comes to healing our relationship with food. It’s why today I’m going to ask you to get on a bike and ride next to your food stories and see what you discover.
As promised a few weeks ago, we’re about to embark upon an adventure through our food stories, exploring our relationship with food. It took me a while to understand that in my own journey with food and cooking, there was another side to my interest in preparing delicious meals. I became a student of cooking when I was around 15 or 16, when I would gobble up all the cooking shows, and watched my uncle (the best cook I’ve ever known) deglaze pans to make elegant French sauces without any pretentious vibes whatsoever. I would study his techniques on everything from making a simple sandwich to the perfect artichokes with hollandaise sauce. I became obsessed. I began collecting recipes, filling up notebook after notebook as I watched The Food Network and when I finally found my chance (especially after I had Carlos to charm and impress), and started spending every bit of free time in the kitchen. What I didn’t know back then was that this thirst for culinary knowledge was also my way of dealing with something I wasn’t aware of at the time: my relationship with food had been tumultuous, it was in pain, and it needed a little support and help. Looking back I know that my interest in food was my way of looking into my relationship with food “without looking into it”, but thank goodness there came a day in which I couldn’t avoid shining a spotlight on it any longer. That was the day things really started to change.
As you probably know if you’re one of our My Brownble members, or you’ve taken any of our cooking courses, my interest in food and cooking never went away, and it’s still one of my favorite parts of the day, but along with developing the skills for tossing onions in a skillet, this has gone hand in hand with looking into and healing my relationship with food. It’s why neither side of this equation is ever missing in our content. One goes along for the ride with the other. We can’t talk about food and cooking without inherently dealing with our relationship with food, and we can’t talk about our relationship with food without talking about the act of eating and the food itself.