The simple statement, “This can’t really be all about food,” is one that I have heard numerous times over the years from my loving husband. In fact, I used to hear this statement from him fairly often as I tried to control my food intake to the point that it was actually controlling me. I was hyper-cautious about every single thing I put into my mouth. I thought about what I was going to eat constantly and blamed everything that was going wrong in my life on what I had for dinner the night before.
Looking back, I finally realized that I was living in fear. To make matters worse, when I was not able to perfectly control what I was eating and ate something that I didn’t “think” I should, I would run into a lot of guilt and shame. The guilt would say, “I can’t believe you just ate that. What were you thinking?” and the shame would say, “What is wrong with you? You are a nutritional consultant; you are supposed to be helping other people, but how can you do that when you don’t even have it together yourself, you hypocrite.” These emotions then lead me to binge on foods I considered “healthy” at the time and I would go around sneaking food so no one else knew I was binge eating. It was honestly a pretty horrible place to be.
I can joyfully say now that I have not heard those words from my husband in a very LONG time. And, I no longer carry the belief that if I don’t get my diet just right, I will not be okay. If you’re wondering what helped me gain this new perspective I have towards eating, my answer just might surprise you: it was the simple act of gratitude. I realized I could not control my diet all of the time and quite frankly, I didn’t really want to carry that burden anyway. So when I was in a situation where I knew I wasn’t going to eat the ideal diet, I simply began to pray over my food and asked God to bless it to my body. I shifted my thinking from fear to thanksgiving and it has made all the difference. I do my best to eat well most of the time, but when I have a treat or am at a party, I extend myself grace and joyfully focus on being thankful for the food and the company I am surrounded by.
As I was working on this article, it reminded me of a movie scene about how many Americans don’t really take the time to appreciate life or the food we eat. In this scene, a group of Italians discuss how Americans spend their week running around like crazy people just so they can make it to the weekend so they can sit in front of the TV in their pajamas because they are too burned out to do anything else. They go on to say that because of this busyness, we don’t take time to really enjoy life or the food we eat.
This scene really got me thinking about the whole idea of gratitude and the fact that being overscheduled can sometimes make it just about impossible to enjoy so many different aspects of life, including the food we eat. For example, when we make dinner for others, do we really take the time to be grateful and thankful for the people we are with and what we are about to eat, or are we more consumed with perfecting the menu and how the food looks? We have gotten into this habit of almost obsessing about what we eat, rather than looking at food for what it truly is: a gift. In reality, we could have been created to subsist on something like gasoline or even water alone. But instead, many of us in this country have the amazing fortune of being able to pick and choose what we want to eat and when we want to eat it.
Rather than micromanaging every little thing I eat, I have instead chosen to put more of my time and energy into simply being thankful for what I am about to partake in. As a result, I have not binged in years and I love to eat chocolate DAILY! Yes, DAILY! My weight has not been affected at all as I have shifted away from guilt and shame and focus on being grateful instead. If you find this concept interesting, I would encourage you to read my good friend Krystle’s blog post on her experience shifting to thankfulness.
So the question is: Are you willing to consider a different approach to how you view food? Take some time to think about what you’re thinking about before you eat your next meal. Before you begin to eat, try worrying less and focus your thoughts instead on being thankful for whatever it is you’re about to eat…you never know, it just might change your life!