“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ―George Bernard Shaw
By Ed Bauman, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Let’s admit it, we love to eat. When we eat well, we choose fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and organic animal products. This is the Eating for Health way. But when we are stressed, we eat to calm down, stimulate, and find pleasure. When these are our motivation, many of us tend toward comfort foods like pizza, burgers, fries,and a soft (or hard) drink. These “happy meals” may make us feel better in the moment, but they are addictive junk foods that work like drugs – quickly, powerfully, and predictably – making us want more even when we know they aren’t good for us. Pleasure seeking, pain avoidant, food programming runs deep. It’s an unconscious reflex response when fatigue,sadness, and uncomfortable emotions surface.
“My weaknesses have always been food and men—in that order.” —Dolly Parton
Our relationship with food is a primary one. It can be healing, or it can be damaging. Without a loving relationship with our self and our loved ones, food addiction can easily manifest. Rather than cook, people eat out or have food delivered and eat while watching tv. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and with too many calories, poor quality food, and too little physical activity, mind numbing chronic stress sets in, which is managed by emotional overeating. When stressed, the brain and body become fatigued and exhausted. At these moments of physiological and psychological depletion, people instinctively reach for the comfort foods they crave and beverages that provide pick up, pleasure, and distraction from conflict.
“I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair.” ―Elizabeth Gilbert
There is a solution to this fatal attraction to food. When we love ourselves and others, we are active, joyful, and content; we eat less; and show love by cooking for and eating with our beloveds. Food is the center of healthy culture as witnessed by the Slow Food Movement members who take time to dine together during leisurely meals without a TV in the background.
Eating well is a self-loving activity. It is a form of recreation, culinary art, and a daily practice. Start by designating one day a week to source, prepare, and enjoy a meal of fresh, local food with friends and family. Take time to practice mindful eating to fully experience the sensory pleasure of eating something whole and unprocessed. Practice taking a deep breath and have a glass of water or a cup of tea to calm and soothe your nerves when stressed. Pull back on eating your comfort foods, but don’t eliminate them completely. Let them be a part of your holistic nutrition program so as to not trigger more craving by deprivation. Develop a loving relationship with your food – smile, sip, and enjoy your next meal.
Dr. Ed Bauman, M.Ed., Ph.D. is the Founder and President of Bauman College. He is also a founding father of the Berkeley Holistic Health Center and National Association of Nutrition Professionals. After studying traditional health and nutrition systems for more than 30 years, Dr. Bauman created the Eating for Health approach, which forms the basis of his professional and community programs. He is the author of the bestselling Holistic Health Handbook, Flavors of Health Cookbook and Whole Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors.