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Romanticizing Food
Category: Happy Eating


I've been reading a book called Skinny Thinking: Five Revolutionary Steps to Heal Your Relationship with Food, Weight, and Your Body by Laura Katleman-Prue. There is a section in the book called Letting Go of Romanticizing Food. This part really stood out:

"Part of our healing requires us to stop glamorizing food by withdrawing some of our false projections onto it and false meanings we've given to it. A balanced relationship with food would be more like your own relationship with toilet paper. Okay, I admit this is a crude analogy, but with both food and toilet paper, quality is important. They both fill a need (when you need it, you need it!), the experience of using them is quick, and most importantly, there's no need to think about them when you're not using them. It's not like you're going to create an overblown fantasy anticipating the velvety softness of two-ply Cottonelle!"

What do you think of that? I agree that food problems often spring from romanticizing it. It's great to enjoy good food when you're hungry and it's time to eat. It's probably not great to fantasize about food constantly. When you turn it into your friend, your enemy, your comfort, your partner in crime, your Friday night, your emotional boost, the highlight of your week, that's when the relationship starts getting dysfunctional. Actually, just entertaining the idea that you have a "relationship" with food is probably dysfunctional, but a lot of us have treated it that way. You turn to it in hard times. You sneak and "cheat" to spend time with it. You feel guilty afterward. You break up. "Never again," you say and you kick the cookies to the curb. But then next thing you know, you're back together! And it's a blissful reunion, perhaps because it's forbidden. LOL

I mean, wow! That's a role that food was never meant to play. Imagine projecting all of that importance onto any other inanimate object? It's weird, right?!  Like that woman on TLC's "My Strange Addiction" with the Teddy bear babies. :-) Thinking about a random object in such an overblown, almost romantic way, giving it that much significance, can only cause problems and suffering.

I know that food is more than food. It has cultural and social significance. I don't think it has to be completely utilitarian, like toilet paper. But I think it's really important to keep it in context. There's a time and a place to celebrate with food. If it's not that time or place, your mind should be elsewhere. I guess that's sort of what I've done with creating a routine with my meals and a schedule for certain treats. When it's time to eat pizza and ice cream, I totally enjoy the experience. When it's not time, I don't even think about it. That has been insanely freeing. I used to battle every day with food decisions, temptation, excitement, guilt, anticipation, remorse, vows to change,  all these strong emotions that shouldn't have a single thing to do with lunch.

It's much easier when everything has a time and a place, "I'll eat that on Tuesday." Or, "I'll have two bites." Then my thoughts are onto something else. I don't like to spend all day every day dwelling on what I will or won't eat. I've put food back into a proper context. Only, I hadn't realized I'd done that until I read the toilet paper analogy.

What do you think? Have there been times in your life when you've romanticized food? Do you still do it? Do you think you could or should stop? If  you have stopped, how? 

I also have a sneaking suspicion that processed, engineered, highly-palatable, "too-good" junk/snack/fast/convenience/restaurant foods have played a part in people's brains forming inappropriate romantic relationships with fatty, crispy, sugar-coated type things. The more I've reduced my consumption of those, the saner the whole thing has become!

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