When I started working on my habit goals nine months ago, I knew I wanted to be open to whatever outcomes may come, without trying to dictate and manipulate the results. After a lifetime of chasing outcome goals, I was sick of it and ready to give up control in that area.
Over the past nine months, I have noticed a lot of great outcomes, both physical and mental. I am now starting the tenth month, and one of the outcomes I have noticed recently is that the role food plays in my life is changing. This post will include some observations about my relationship with food in different points in my life, and now. Please keep in mind that in describing this, I am not holding any judgment towards myself or anyone else who happens to identify with these statements. Just describing my experiences at different points in my life.
As a child, I loved food, but it was also a source of guilt. I did not find my family meals relaxing. During meals, my parents sometimes argued, and there was often food policing of my brothers and my meals or portions. I grew to enjoy eating alone.
During and after college, food became a hobby, a passion and a joy. In college I cooked elaborate meals in my co-op, and friends gushed over my cooking. I loved reading cookbooks, trying new recipes, trying out new restaurants with exciting menus, and trying different ethnic cuisines. Food met my needs for engagement in a hobby, pleasure, learning new things (researching new ingredients, cooking methods, and recipes). Food was a hobby was one that I really missed when I was on some of the more restrictive diets.
As an adult, I often ate when I felt stressed out.
That used to be my reality. Here is my current reality (again, just sharing here. Not making any judgments about which reality is “morally” better. )
This year I gave up restrictive diets and weighing myself (I might get on a scale if I am at a doctor’s appointment, but that’s it. It’s been months.) I have been tracking my habit goals.
I can only recall one time this year where I engaged in “stress eating.” One. In nine months time.
Lately I feel bored with food. I used to love meal planning, recipes, and grocery shopping. Now I have become a picky eater. Sometimes when food shopping I walk through the stores searching the aisles for food that appeals to me, and very little does. Sometimes I take one or two bites of something and decide it doesn’t spark enough joy or whatever, and I have no desire to finish it. I’ve experienced this kind of boredom (or even food aversions) one other time in my life: while I was pregnant. At the time, I assumed it was due to the pregnancy, and maybe it partially was. But I also did not restrict my eating while I was pregnant – since I had food aversions and needed to eat, I ate whatever sounded good, since not much did. And since pregnancy is a time when it is socially acceptable for a woman to eat whatever she wants, I was okay with doing that. Now, I wonder if my experience while pregnant was the outcome of unrestricted eating, and not just the pregnancy itself.
This boredom with food is a new and different feeling for me, because I was used to food being a number one passion and hobby for much of my life. Even when I was on restrictive diets, I spent a good deal of time researching recipes and learning new cooking methods that worked within those diets. Now, I have trouble getting excited about food, restaurants, and cookbooks. I don’t get the same pleasure out of it that I used to.
I have let go of the need to control what my kid eats all the time. Of course I still care, as a parent, but I have let go of the fear of what might happen if I “get it wrong.” I’m pretty sure that if my kid is fed and healthy, I’m probably doing it right, and anything else is above and beyond.
I have little interest in cooking these days.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that eating meals alone is still a calming ritual. Eating dinner alone relaxes me. I often feed kiddo dinner, and then eat dinner myself after he goes to bed. I would like to change this so I can enjoy more meals with my kid, since there are supposedly a lot of benefits to eating meals as a family. Maybe I need to find another relaxing evening ritual so I will feel more comfortable letting this one go. It’s something to think about for a future habit to work on. This seems to run pretty deep for me so I am open to the possibility that it might never change.
Anyway, I have said at least a couple times in this post how I am not making moral judgments about myself or anyone else who identifies with my current or past experiences. That said, I will make some observations about my feelings.
As this speaker says in this TED talk, “it took me about a year to learn this, but it’s really been worth it. I feel more relaxed around food than I ever have felt in my entire life.” Yes. I agree with this statement, one hundred percent. I feel so much more relaxed around food than I used to. It is an interesting and different feeling to be this relaxed around food. I still think I have some work that can still be done in this area, but I feel relaxed and unconcerned about that as well. So, I definitely feel better, emotionally, in my current experience, now that food has taken more of a backseat role in my life.
These changes feel significant enough for me to notice them, but don’t feel too uncomfortable, since I have found other passions/joys that take the place of food these days. It just feels strange and different. I imagine that if I hadn’t found other passions, I would have a much harder time wrapping my head around these changes.
I am really glad I remained open to outcomes. Feeling more relaxed around food is a big deal for me. I am going to continue on this path and see what happens!