Food will never dump you, cheat on you, or be absent when you’re down.
But that doesn’t mean it won’t abuse you, take advantage of your love, or not have your best interests at heart.
Like all relationships, it’s worth choosing with care in whose company we spend our time. Make the right choices and life can be wonderfully enhanced and supported. Whereas a choice based purely on emotion, while ignoring all the red-flags and warning signs, can surely lead to heart ache – or indeed heart disease.
Let’s face it, finding love isn’t easy or straightforward. Most of us learn painfully from experience, until, if we’re lucky, we find that special someone who just makes life better.
It’s one thing to navigate relationships with people. We know that they often end, and when they do, the choice is rarely one-sided. Despite the hurt, we accept that time heels and future opportunities will present.
Why is it then, that we tend to have so much more emotion tied up with food than we do with the people we share our lives with? We have far more difficulty making healthy choices about what we eat and find it nigh-on impossible to walk away from that which doesn’t support us or make us feel good about ourselves.
You think I’m wrong? Try suggesting that someone give up bread, chocolate or beer. Prepare for a strong reaction. Don’t forget: a person’s favourite food may also be the thing that they need the least.
We are far more willing to question a dysfunctional relationship with a partner, than we are a food-group. How messed up is that? Especially when so many of us complain about our weight and/or experience wider health implications.
Changing a relationship with food, or beginning a whole new one based upon what will support, nurture and fuel you, is within everyone’s grasp; if only we could take the bullshit and mysticism out of the equation. It’s not rocket science: it’s really simple. And yet we’re conditioned to expect disappointment or defeat.
Come on now, you wouldn’t start a new relationship with that pessimistic attitude!
Maybe that’s the key: to treat relationships with food the same way as any other; as you would a lover. Holding that relationship to the same standards, and then deciding whether it’s worth letting go and moving on with your life while you still can.
And just as it’s not a good idea to become obsessed with someone, neither is it healthy to be overly pre-occupied with thoughts of your next meal. If food has become the love of your life, then maybe, just maybe (definitely), there’s a serious need for re-evaluation. Don’t get me wrong: I love food; I really, really, luuurv food! But beyond a spot of advanced prep, and some healthy anticipation, it doesn’t take up a lot of conscious thought.
It’s like a relationship that’s reliable and secure, in which you know your partner’s got your back and won’t let you down. There’s room for passion, but time apart is also beneficial.
Contrast that with a less functional relationship; where hunger and indigestion take the place of invasive neediness in the form of countless texts to see what you’re doing or where you’re at.
It’s great to appreciate a satisfying meal, but who needs a gaseous reminder every few minutes that’ll surely leave a bad taste in your mouth?
Or perhaps food becomes a guilty secret, like an affair: sneaking out to spend time together whenever possible; hiding receipts that could incriminate; lying as to the reason for your unexplained absences. Deceit can rarely be justified, unless in pursuit of a greater good; even then, it’s questionable.
Then we get to the issue of grandiose statements and over-romanticising. The assertion that one would literally ‘die’ for another. Newsflash: if that’s the measure of devotion required, then maybe it’s worth walking away; just saying.
And yet, people really are dying as a result of their love-affair with food. If a lover ever caused you to become diabetic, would you stick around? Leaving a lover won’t actually ‘break’ your heart, but in the case of junk-food, the reality is quite the opposite.
Sometimes in life, there comes a point where we simply have to be pragmatic; evaluating the relationships within our life and cutting loose those that hold us back and prevent us from reaching our full potential.
Better to keep the good memories than to hold on out of habit after those times have passed. Beware though, those rose-tinted glasses, for they are pesky blighters who will deceive you given half a chance, and keep you anchored to the past. Smash those little buggers and focus on the future with 20/20 vision. Sure, those sugar laden treats seemed like a great idea at the time, but you can’t get away with eating them forever; everything has consequences. It’s just like being inexplicably drawn to bad-boys or femme fatales: great at the time, but you’re never going to marry them!
So how do you find the perfect partner? Firstly, set high standards and don’t let them slip: if you constantly date one loser after another, how is that cycle ever going to be broken? By exactly the same token: anyone who’s having issues with excess weight, is displaying the markers for Metabolic Syndrome, or has/is at risk of type-2 diabetes; can’t reasonably expect to continue ingesting the same things that got them into this situation in the first place.
There comes a time when the cycle must be broken. In other words: stop dating/eating garbage and choose better alternatives.
Steer clear of anyone or anything that seems too good to be true; is all fancy words or packaging; has no moral compass or nutritional value. Look closely at the ingredients and find out what makes that person, or goes into that meal:
- Are they responsible/ is it ethically farmed?
- Are they open and honest/ contents clearly labelled?
- Are they vague or misleading/ can you pronounce the ingredients?
- Do they show regard for your best interests/ is there nutritional value?
- Do they always make you feel good/ no indigestion or after-effects?
- Are they all talk and no action/ taste good but don’t satisfy you for very long?
- Would you take them home to meet the family/ would you feed it to your family?
- Do they motivate you/ does it give you energy?
- Do they nourish you/ does it nourish you?
As you can see, there’s little difference between what constitutes a healthy relationship; be it with a lover or food. I believe we owe it to ourselves to make the best choices possible with the information we have available. If there’s a gap in that knowledge, then set about filling it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to food, there are so many mixed messages and competing theories and methods, that it’s damn hard to know which way to turn. How do you choose between 100 diets that all promise the same amazing results?
Well, one clue is in the use of the word ‘diet’. Apply the same style of questioning as above and ask what the plan is for long-term maintenance, performance, body-composition, etc. Be relentless, and don’t let what you want to hear obscure the answers (or lack thereof) you receive.
Diets can work for the short-term, if calorie restriction and hunger is what you consider a good time. But is it going to nourish you for the rest of your life, or will it just be another fumble in the dark that doesn’t stay the course and dumps you by text.
I thoroughly recommend a relationship cull. Get rid of anything or anyone that drains you rather than supports you, feels like excess baggage or only serves to hold you back. For when you jettison that excess, you will definitely feel like a weight has been lifted off.
You deserve to have healthy relationships; accept nothing less.
Health coaching at Primal 40.com is available by phone or skype, or in-person throughout Cheshire and North Wales.