When you cook you either go through the motions of preparing food or you love the process, as well as the end result. And it doesn’t matter how much you spend on sourcing the finest quality ingredients, if this one element is missing eating your food just won’t be a great experience for you or those you serve it to. Of course the essential component is:
Leave that out at your peril. The ripples that emanate from it are intangible but deeply felt, prior to sitting down, during the meal, and once it’s over. And if you’ve ever had the experience of attending a family meal served up with a dollop of resentment you’ll know the exact flavour we’re going for here.
What are your eating experiences like?
And this leads us into all manner of food-related territory doesn’t it? Our relationships with food start very early on, and mostly learned through the family. Let’s start with putting food on the table, have you been or are you now the main cook in your home?
- Do you enjoy it?
- Are you stingy?
- Do you try to overfeed your flock?
- How do you behave around food at the table?
- What language do you use?
- How old are your kids?
- What food-patterns have you taught them?
- How long have they been listening to your food-and-weight-hangups?
How aware are you of the impact that your attitudes towards food, eating, and how you talk about your weight have had on your own children’s psyche? What food-related patterns have they developed, that either support yours or rebel against them? Here’s an example of a lady I worked with where her family patterns held a firm grip:
In her early 50’s, we’ll call her Jennifer, she grew up with a mum who was obsessed with dieting; she would feed the family, didn’t sit with them at the table, and didn’t seem to eat. She put her daughter, Jennifer, on a diet from early puberty, having firmly planted the idea that her she was overweight as early as primary school. She and her sisters would sneak treats into the house, store them away like squirrels, awaiting an opportunity to have secret snacking sessions in their bedrooms. Unsurprisingly Jennifer didn’t feel good about herself, and became a serial dieter too, and it’s easy enough to see how that happened?
My mum passed away (aged 93) at the end of 2013, and was a bit of a minx when it came to food, because she used it to replace her emotions. A very common trait of her generation, and born in 1920, between the two world wars.
Killing them with kindness
A bit harsh, but my mum was typical of her generation, she overfed us, always wanting to push more food our way, but it’s a dysfunctional way of showing love. My mum found it almost impossible to be demonstrative, either physically or verbally.
And her own very challenging upbringing is responsible for much of that. She was in a hospital bed for most of her childhood, treats were not on the agenda, so it’s understandable that she would want to compensate that lack with her kids. And she was as much a victim as anyone, of society’s growing consumerism, that developed post WWII.
I wouldn’t be much of an alternative therapist if I’d not spent time addressing the ramifications that impacted me, but I’m still a work in progress. And I didn’t have children, so perhaps I missed an opportunity to heal it more organically, as our children often reflect back and highlight our less desirable traits.
But similarly, had I had kids what patterns would I have unconsciously passed on, oblivious in how much my upbringing was impacting them, that they would then have passed down the line to their own children?
What food-related behaviours are you teaching others?
Maybe something similar happened to you, because it’s not unusual, and along with the vast changes that have taken place in food manufacturing, we now have a level of obesity that’s growing exponentially. Of course food gets blamed, but we know don’t we, that there’s far more going on under-the-car-bonnet of gaining weight, losing it, then gaining it all back again?
But what are we teaching our kids when it comes to emotional eating, are you teaching the Clean Plate method of eating. Cornell University released a study in 2014 that showed 92% of adults eat everything they put on their plate. It’s clearly a common practice, passed down the generations, unnoticed and without question.
These are current findings on child and adolescent obesity:
The psychology of food choice
Bringing it back to the kitchen, and cooking, and putting food on the table, there are a number of things you can do that will help to break the patterns that your family have been passing down the ancestral line, which all come back to love:
- Look at how you feel about the food you produce for your table, and put as much love as you can muster into every spoonful
- Cook things you enjoy eating
- Eat natural foods that you recognise as growing, or roaming below the ground, on land, or in the sea
- Stay away from synthetically manufactured foods (and non-foods), because your body needs nutrients it can easily recognise, digest and absorb
- Celebrate food, it sustains us, it’s provides the fuel you need to live
- Buy the best quality ingredients you can afford and take the less is more approach
- It’s about quality not quantity
- Look at your portion sizes, are you overdoing it?
- Can you start reducing the amount incrementally, because the all or nothing approach to food is difficult to sustain in the long-term?
- Being more mindful of the language that you use and the behaviour you’re displaying unconconsiously
- Find someone to help you change some things without battling your willpower each day, despite your best intentions, or contact on that link
- Set the best example you can
As a fellow foodie I know the importance of not losing your love of food, because loving food is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s social and celebratory. But altering any unhelpful relationships with food will bring noticeable differences.
And the benefit of all-things-weight and eating, is how highly measurable this is, which includes your feelings as you progress.
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