You know the feeling.
You meet someone who immediately hooks your attention, who gives you that jolt that your body has been begging you for.
Deep down, you know that something is off. Your gut informs you that this person will not support – let alone enrich – your well-being in the long term. It may even warn of a crash.
But you ignore your internal wisdom.
You are craving company. Finding someone who will nourish you in all of the ways that you desire requires time and effort. And you deserve to at least have a little fun in the meantime, right?
If you examine your dating history, you may find a pattern: You know what you want. You know what you need. But, for some reason, you refuse to give it to yourself fully or at all.
Instead, you continue to chase, to settle for or to distract yourself with partners who are unsatisfying, unfaithful and maybe even unsafe. Ingesting their toxic energy is slowly killing your body, mind and spirit. But at least it feels better than starving, right?
This is kind of like our relationship with food.
Our relationship to food is fucked.
No matter how damaging our partners’ behaviors can be in toxic relationships, the most destructive conduct is committed by us. Because we are choosing what we know is unhealthy for us. Over. And over. And over again.
We have vilified the food industry for our obese and disease-ridden population. True, the availability of crap is a problem. But the larger problem is that we ignore the information that is equally available to us about the many ways that this food ravages our bodies and minds.
Crap still exists because we still pursue or succumb to it. We let it take us out to dinner, maybe even for a few drinks afterward. Sometimes, we do not even make that much effort, and our failure to nourish ourselves becomes a booty call.
What we are putting in our mouths is cheap, insipid and even abusive. The morning after tastes like a physical, mental and spiritual hangover. It is a recipe for disaster.
But it is available. It is easy. And it feels better than being alone.
Food itself is not the cause of our health crisis. Our choices of what and how much we eat of it are.
We consistently consume food that we know is unhealthy for us. We have made gluttony an American pastime and even a sport.
Societally, we agree that people can drink themselves to death. But we rarely admit that people can eat themselves to death too.
We need to stop blaming the food industry for our country’s health problems and start blaming ourselves. The foods that we choose to put into our mouths are killing us. We are actively and willingly contributing to our own demise.
The question is, why? I think that we are choosing to eat ourselves to death for three reasons:
I often hear people say that they are unwilling to give up certain foods because they “deserve” them or because no one has the right to tell them what to eat. Perhaps this is a latent function of the American dream. Something in our collective psyche is telling us that we deserve all of the food that we want, that it is another resource to dominate.
As usual, we ignore the consequences of our conquests. Most people feel entitled to eat however they want, yet they do not feel that they deserve to be tired, overweight and/or sick as a result of their poor and unrestricted eating habits.
They also seem entitled to care, as healthy people have to foot the medical bills through taxes and health insurance for unhealthy people and to expend physical, mental and emotional energy on the ailments that they have elected through their diets.
Laziness is a kissing cousin of entitlement. When we let the mindset that we deserve things lead us, we diminish our drive to create.
Not creating the time, energy or knowledge to eat well is a choice. Choosing to eat well can be hard but is not impossible. When we let the difficulty dissuade us and settle for what is easy, we just are being lazy.
Most people are unhappy and unfulfilled. As a result, they use food as a coping mechanism.
When we cannot meet needs such as love, attention or significance, food offers the perfect substitute. It is easily accessible and makes us feel better in the moment.
But those qualities are not always healthiest in relationships if we want them to maintain their value and to last. When we choose to fill ourselves with toxic food instead of what we truly need, food shifts from what nurtures us to what tortures us.
Ultimately, these reasons are just the three courses that make it to the table. What we really want to put out is the dish that is on fire in the oven:
Our relationship to food is fucked because our relationship to ourselves is fucked. Entitlement, laziness and unfulfillment all can boil down to unworthiness:
Because claiming our feelings of inadequacy can be difficult, we instead try to claim everything else. Food does not put up much of a fight.
Because we do not think that we are good enough, we do not feel worthy enough to make the effort to nourish ourselves with quality food.
Because we do not feel that we deserve to fulfill our true needs, we settle for filling ourselves with food.
Changing our relationship to food starts with changing our relationships to ourselves – physically, mentally and spiritually. That is why diets do not work.
Multidimensional change can appear to be hard work. But that is just a line that unworthiness feeds us to keep us from leaving. Like any healthy relationship, once you find love, it is effortless.
Here are four ways to fall for healthy food:
- Dump the limitations that you have claimed for your body. Your true entitlement is to wellness. Physical health is your birthright. Feel in every cell that you deserve the quality and quantity of food that will nourish your system and will restore the innate health of its design.
- Spark small habits to erode laziness, such as checking your mind when it tells you that you are too tired to eat well. This takes willpower, but your mind also is wired for wellness and, therefore, is hungry to learn this skill.
- Seek the root of your unhappiness. Meet your actual needs rather than suppressing them with food. This may require some soul-searching, but that is nothing that a health coach or training cannot teach you.
- When you are ready to commit, propose the underlying question to yourself: Do you feel worthy of nourishment? If not, why not?
Healing your relationship with yourself will be more effective in healing your relationship with food than any diet. It can be what finally empowers you to break up with poisonous choices – for good.
Stop blaming food for your health problems and start blaming yourself. Better yet, stop loving food and start loving yourself.
Schedule your complimentary “Discover Your Path to Freedom” session today. We believe that you are worthy of a healthy relationship with yourself and with your food. Do you?
A Maur Unity collaboration, edited by Maura Bogue
Nick Palladino-King teaches students and clients how to reduce stress, to increase happiness and to elevate health through yoga, wellness coaching and strength training.