Essay On Love Hate Relationship – The Difficult Lover – Food
Haven’t most of us at some point in our lives experienced the heartache of a difficult lover? The push and pull? Have you ever considered that you may be living with an elusive lover every day? FOOD!
Have you thought about how profoundly intimate food is? Thought about what is behind this powerful connection that our naked eye skipped? How much of the relationship with food, just like with a lover, is based on intense emotions of self-worth?
This hasn’t always been true – long ago the Rubenesque curves were emblematic of wealth and beauty. More recently modern standards of beauty emphasize the opposite and being super thin is viewed as beautiful and healthy (overweight became despised and along with it, low self-esteem the result!). We’ve also learned that being overweight is not healthy and has a negative social stigma on several levels. However, losing weight remains an elusive hope and for many the biggest struggle of our daily lives. The carousel of thoughts revolves around “If only I was thinner”. Losing weight is now seen as the most easily accessible hope for transformation. Dieting becomes the panacea answer to our dreams of a better self.
So, with so much at stake, why do we fail?
Once upon a time we were born, and that’s when it all started. Hungry as a baby, we howled from the top of our lungs and the whole world reacted to our tantrums with a calming and soothing response – food. Feeding became one of the most pleasurable and satisfying experiences of our early lives and remained deeply ingrained with our mother figure. We experienced solace and love when we were well fed. Feeding and soothing became inextricably bonded, food the most satisfying and the core of a myriad of feelings.
In the aftermath of our infant experiences, few let go of this pattern in our adult years when food should serve a different role. We as a grown-ups should have become responsible for handling our own discomfort and emotional challenges with other coping skills. But as we matured the intensity of those early positive feelings grew distorted and triggered emotional upheaval. Eating, once the answer to our basic needs became the shortcut to the resolution of all ills and fears. The ultimate self-soothing tool.
Without self-awareness we turn to the magic realm of food for quick comfort well beyond the basic primordial need for calories. We start packing on food like there is no tomorrow. Food is no longer just parental love but the heartless Casanova roller coaster lover. We feel cruelly trapped and betrayed but yet we succumb.
Eating ice cream and cake are like dating a difficult and yet much desired lover – sweet at first bite but bitter with heartache and disappointment later. Sometimes we just want a casual date with French fries and wings, and then we have moments when we prefer the intense chocolate mousse tryst. Remember the days we went on a blind date and it was dead boring as steamed broccoli and salad with no dressing? Better off staying home and making love to the soda and BBQ chips instead we think afterwards. What about that night when after a few beers we went to bed with a whole pizza just to be so embarrassed in the morning that we didn’t even tell our best friend. Monogamy is not a word to be taken seriously in this dictionary. So we abandon ourselves with an abundance of decadent choices. Gazing through the wine list we politely ask for a whole bottle for one. The erotic pleasure of our palate savoring all the scents and flavors in the world contained in that well aged Bordeaux.
As adults there is also a social norm that we should do something nice for ourselves when we feel bad. We feel entitled to excite some dormant senses, stimulate those inactive under used taste buds, run a bubble bath, and have a glass of wine or a superb meal. But we are just bypassing or suppressing our feelings. We allow a psychological hunger to take control over our physiological need. The discomfort of losing control takes over and rebounds with a false sense of security and a rebellious act as we think:
“I am eating whatever I want and I should be accepted as I am!”
Next morning we are ready to start fresh, the black coffee is great for breakfast, the lettuce leaf is perfect for a morning snack, one carrot stick is delicious for lunch, a scoop of nonfat yogurt is a wonderful afternoon energy booster.
Craving foods is a mood – it’s the peak of an emotional mountain and in place since we were first nursed – easy to see that emotional eating connects to the need for maternal comfort. Food becomes the mother so to speak of all ills good and bad. In short we take that cycle from childhood into our intimate relationship with food as an adult. There is a parallel truth in the saying that we always date two people, one of them the mother.
Empowerment lies in understanding this connection and it can make a big difference in our life. Liberation comes only when we understand how we soothe our anxieties, and understand the role of food – become mindful of what we need food for and what we don’t. We don’t have to give up epicurean pleasures as long as we understand what emotions we are feeding.
Change takes time but it starts with us and our attitude first – diet and exercise to follow. Legalize farm healthy food from the undesired low class category to the favored. Get back to basics without the fancy menu names we don’t understand. Food will soon transform from a lover to an honest friend. A true friend will never put us down as in the aftermath of a sugar load. A friend without bipolar roller coaster swings but who offers steady, nurturing and mature love, which gives us the vitamins of energy, self-acceptance, focus and stamina. We need more than a quickie with a candy bar and that is why food is never the answer. Accepting the fact that as humans we need self-love and confidence in order to thrive and knowing that a box of Oreos will never fulfill that need is key.
End the scale verdict. Once we’ve made this leap we’ll no longer look for acceptance by that ex-lover called food. The closet will no longer house lost aspirations. The mirror on the wall will stop being a dreaded reality then we start becoming enchanted by our own confidence. We are dancing with the shopping cart that is not full to the brim with ice-cream but healthy choices. We naturally turn down the dessert menu. Suddenly we don’t mind catching our reflection in a shop window. The date with the plain grilled fish and steamed Brussels sprouts feels just right and we cannot get enough of that form of love.
We will create more intimacy in our life with others.
The lightness of being as Kundera said.
Life is all about this profound connection with ourselves. Start down that road today. That’s the best Valentine’s Day gift of all – not a box of chocolates but rather the message in a card we send ourselves. I LOVE ME!!