Most adults will know that Christmas is often a time for ‘letting go’ when it comes to food. We could have started a diet in October, effectively transitioned our taste buds away from having a penchant for saturated fats to more fruit and vege. We could be feeling as healthy as we’ve ever been and then once Christmas arrives, it’s a signal to our psyche that maybe because it’s Christmas, we’ll indulge in our guilty foods. It won’t hurt, just this once….will it?
Of course it won’t hurt and it shouldn’t hurt. Eating food shouldn’t be a painful decision making process or sacrifice. We have made it painful though through the creation of diet fads, body shaming, and making food into some sort of deity that we build our lives and schedules around, rather than using food for what it truly is – energy.
Our pre-occupation with dieting, convenience eating, using special events to justify binge eating and placing cultural significance around the consumption of food has an effect on how children view food and form relationships with food as well.
I am certainly not one to judge though, I was there – in fact I am still. My partner and I both work full time, we have three children and most of the times it seems a lot easier just to go with the convenience option (often in the form of fast food) and then I feel really guilty about it afterward, because it has somehow impacted my diet or ‘clean eating.’ I have created a system where my world, schedule and routines are structured around what I eat, when I eat and how much I eat.
It isn’t until recently, about eight weeks ago to be exact that I started asking myself the most important question when it comes to eating food – the WHY do I eat?
By ignoring all the other questions and focusing on the WHY of eating, I was able to come to a conclusion which had a significant impact on what I ate, when I ate and how much I ate. I eat because it gives me energy. Food provides my body with the vital nutrients that it needs to function optimally. Iron, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins etc. All have their place and their value but they all contribute to my body having the fuel it needs to sustain itself through the day.
Once I began viewing food primarily as fuel for my body, I was able to remove all other emotional attachment to it. I no longer think of food as some great social connector, or that I should eat a certain way or adhere to a certain diet because of my culture. I now eat when I have depleted my energy (or I am hungry) and I eat the right kinds of food as well – fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains. I never feel ‘over full’ as in eating so much that I am unable to move (usually a side effect of too much saturated fat) and I am never hungry, but it feels as though I have an unlimited amount of energy.
I believe we need to start supporting this kind of relationship with children and food as well. They need to view food as a source of energy and solely a source of energy, and then all other kinds of conversations can come into play – for example: What kinds of foods give us the most energy, what types of foods give us the least.
I know that I would more likely eat a pile of spinach if it was the main attraction on a place and with the knowledge that it could provide me tons of energy and vital nutrients rather than a small side on a plate heaped with saturated fat.
What are your thoughts?