Your Relationship with Food: How to Change the Story
If you could wave your magic wand, is there something that you would change about your relationship with food? Would you make yourself feel happier? Healthier?
If you’re like most people, then of course, the answer is, “Yes!”
But what if you thought of your "relationship" with food as more than just YOU and FOOD? Because it is...
It’s how you talk about food and your body to yourself – and to others. How those around you eat – and what they say (or don’t say) about their food choices. It’s an ongoing narrative, with a beginning that starts way back when you were a child and is always growing and changing, even today. It’s not just a one-on-one relationship; it’s your Food Story.
Your food story is everything from what’s on your plate to what’s in your mind. It’s all the experiences that you've had with food over your lifetime: meals that you’ve eaten, messages that you’ve received, conversations with yourself, choices you make – day in and day out. And the beautiful thing about a story is that it is always changing and evolving.
But every truly great story needs an editor, not just a writer: someone to look closely at the narrative arc and help make gentle adjustments, to keep the characters moving forward. And your food story is no exception. Because it’s a story, not only a relationship, it offers you two crucial things:
- A clear sense of the past and what came before, and
- The ability – even the imperative – to change it.
When you edit your food story, you acknowledge and accept that your past might set a precedent, but it need not be your present. By stepping back and looking through a different lens at how your food story is unfolding, you have the authority to make new, active choices that serve you better.
Last month, as my family and I, prepared to move into our new home, I did some editing of my own – out of necessity! I had to look at my habits with a new set of eyes as we downsized to a smaller space. If you follow me on Instagram then you know about The Freezer Challenge. The rules were simple: our massive freezer, which for so long was stuffed to bursting in order to feed our sons and their friends on little notice, had to be emptied before we could relocate. And as we ate through all of the pre-prepped pizza crusts and seemingly endless frozen fruit for smoothies, I had a thought:
My freezer no longer matches my food story.
It seems crazy that a household appliance could be a part of my food story, but then I remembered my father’s habit of pad-locking the fridge at night to curb his snacking habit. And I realized that a food story really is that big, and really does touch that many places in our lives.
Which is why it’s crucial to examine your habits and thoughts and – like I have since our move – edit away.
You see, when my sons moved out of the house, I could've taken a hard look at my freezer and its purpose, transforming it from an emergency store of teenager-friendly snack foods into a treasure trove of frozen goodies from the farmers market to be enjoyed all year long. And thanks to our move, that’s just what I did!
And you can, too – whether it’s your freezer, your inner dialogue, or how you prepare and serve your meals.
When editing your food story, look for some of these helpful keys, which will allow you to assess whether you want to make changes:
- Seasons – What suits you in the summer might not serve you in the winter, and vice versa. Heartier winter comfort foods won’t feel the same in the summer when you might choose memory-laden meals that recall the carefree vibes of the season. (Grownup Fudgsicles, anyone?) Connect with your environment and what’s happening around you, and edit away all year round!
- Labels – Limiting your behavior with a strict set of rules is only okay if every single one of those rules works for you! Flexibility, customization, and connection to your own body are keys here. Maybe you prefer to eat Paleo, but don’t always adhere precisely to the constraints of the diet. Or perhaps you strive for a vegan diet, but occasionally add a sprinkle of parmesan to your veggies with garlic and oil. If the label works for you, keep it; if not, edit it!
- History – What has worked for you in the past might not work now. (And that’s okay – just ask my freezer!) Every now and then, take time to reexamine the things that you do by rote, from your grocery shopping habits to your daily meal and snack choices, and be sure that they still serve the version of your food story and that you want to tell today.
- Outdated Beliefs – If you’re still telling yourself that you’re too busy to eat healthier…or a bad cook…or don’t eat fat…or can't consume carbs without binging… Ask yourself whether this is an old outdated story. Try challenging those beliefs as part of your editing process. You may be surprised (and empowered!) when you realize that you can change the story that you’ve held onto for too long… and set out to write a new one!
Now it’s your turn: What habits and behaviors have you edited to make your food story stronger? Let’s bust out our red pens together in the comments!