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Food and Feelings

by Bethany Kelsey | July 14, 2020, 09:47 AM

Food is an intensely personal matter.  From the very surface level of food likes and dislikes to the deep level of how one views food, nutrition means something different to everyone.  To help us explore the mind-body connection with food, please welcome guest writer Stephanie Miezin.  Stephanie is a Sports Dietitian with a passion for helping others live happier, healthier lives through delicious food and nutrition education. She currently works as a Dietitian at the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee helping fuel Team USA.

Please enjoy Stephanie’s wonderful insights! - Bethany and Jordan

In a Relationship with Your Food?

Would you say you are dating your dinner?  What if I told you that not only are you in a relationship with your food, but it is one of the most important relationships you will have throughout life?  

How we view food, consciously or not, has incredible impacts on our lifestyle and health.  The concept sounds simple - food gives us energy to thrive as human beings; however, I think we can each determine in our own ways how food is so much more than that.  Let’s explore together a few ways food is viewed.

Food is identity.  Food impacts how we view ourselves, links us to cultures and religions, and even connects us with groups of people.     

Food is comfort.  Food is often what we turn to when we feel sad or stressed, what we indulge in without realizing it, and what makes us feel better, if not for just a moment.

Food is social and spiritual.  With whom we choose to share eating, what those meals with others mean beyond the food itself, and how it makes us feel afterwards is unique to each individual.

Why do these views matter?  They matter because the first step in fostering a strong relationship with your food is understanding all the meanings of food to you and how it impacts your everyday life.  Ask yourself the following questions, and then think about how your answer makes you feel:

  • Do you use food as a coping strategy to give you comfort when stressed out, sad, or anxious?
  • How do you enjoy most meals? Do you eat while on your phone or watching a show, or do you try to be in the moment while eating a meal?
  • What do you feel when you think about your next meal: excitement, anxiety, or indifference? 
  • How do you plan or decide what to eat based on your schedule or activity? Do you plan ahead at all, or wait until you are starving and then find the closest yummy food you can?

There are no right or wrong answers to those questions.  There is no judgement around your answers.  You simply took the first step in examining your relationship with food.  Congratulations!  Just like a normal relationship, the relationship we have with food is something we need to foster each day to be successful for a lifetime. Part of that fostering process is understanding our mindset around food, what food does within and for our body, and the balance that needs to be achieved between maximizing food as fuel and food as an emotion driver. Once we hold a better understanding of those pieces, we can be more intentional in how we approach and incorporate food, meals and eating in each day. 

What now?  Continue to assess and be honest with yourself about how you view food and how you make it part of your life every day. What aspects are positive?  What aspects need a little tweaking?  Identify one small step you can take today to improve your food relationship and how that will benefit you once the habit change is made. 


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