Food Relationships | Are You “Emo” About your Food?

Posted on April 18, 2012


Remember being ga-ga for some boy or girl in your youth who you’d literally go to the ends of the Earth for…in a kind of unhealthy, young & stupid/sweet kind of way? Surely most of us have had that relationship that made us lose our damn minds for the person in those initial ‘shiny new thing’ moments of the connection…the relationship that possibly even convinced you some momentous tribute of affection, such as the one below, was a good idea. (Youth of the 80’s…here’s your rom-com John Cusack moment…enjoy)

Click image to go back to the late 80s & watch the movie clip.

In those relationships, there’s little logic, lots of lust (or if you were just 12 at the time, lots of whatever 12-year-olds do instead of lust…plugging my ears as you parents shout out exactly what 12-year-old are doing these days…I’d rather pretend not to know) & a whole lotta short-term-reactionary thinking going on.

Example: girl’s crush, Johnnie, doesn’t work…he takes a ‘damn the man’ stance on work – but he’s cute – so what else do you need, right? Little does girl realize that long-term, Johnnie’s ‘damn the man’ attitude equates to her being the responsible one in the duo & thus taking on everything while Johnnie is a couch-riding POS. Super cute today…not so cute in a few years..but in those youthful, sweet/stupid relationships, you don’t think long-term. Nor do you think with much besides your primal connection to that person.

Lust. Lack of logic. Reactionary thinking (read: ‘I see it, I want it, no matter what’). Compare that to how you relate to food; do you feel like you “need” to get the gooey, sweet, yummy food you see advertised on tv on your next grocery trip? Do you eat dessert even though you clearly are full already? Do your rough days & crappy food days often go hand-in-hand? Those are just 3 examples of lust, lacking logic, & reactionary choices related to food. All that for an object that gives you no love, no affection, not even a mix tape.

I believe these are instrumental pieces within the failure (or ‘never even starting of’) healthy habits. Foods made of bad fats, sugar, & salt are addicting. We know this as a fact, although you have likely already known it on some anecdotal self-awareness level. And yet, like cigarettes, some (many!) continue to do that which we know is harmful.

Why? Because that youthful, John Cusack-style, expression of love that you’re giving to yourself via chips & salsa or Moosetracks ice cream feels really good in the moment, hits a nerve of immediate satisfaction, but makes zero sense in the intelligent, logical part of your brain (ya know, the part you’re ignoring as your spoon dives into the pint of ice cream for the 20th time tonight). We’re emotionally responding to something that, while certainly allowed to be tasty & special, is truly meant to meet a completely UNemotional need. Food is life-giving, it is not lust-giving. Just like our little unemployed young-lust-interest, Johnnie, who lights your fire today but burns your heart tomorrow – handling food & emotion together starts off what seems to be wonderfully, but usually ends terribly (if not today with a tummy ache, certainly down the road with fat gains and/or life-shortening disease).

We tend to become emotionally tied to foods that are not healthy, the ones that are some combo of fat, sugar, and salt. Never has someone lusted themselves into a 1,000 calories of broccoli. I mean, I love broccoli, but it’s physically impossible to eat 1,000 calories of it in 1 sitting like we are certainly capable of doing with candy or chips. I believe, at some level, we realize what a poor choice we’re making when we give in to food cravings that don’t match our health & wellness goals, or when we keep moving along the chip-dip-mouth turnpike.

But why do we keep doing it?

Because we already reacted [reactionary thinking] to some trigger (be it a commercial that brings a craving that you’d kept out of sight to the real estate right in front of your eyes, or the bad day you had that seems logically taken care of in a bag of Doritos). Which led to the lust of the food choice…something that, in a different moment, you may have actually held strong in avoiding but right now, in just the right moment, you give in to that bad-boy choice of ice cream. And then, the completely logic-lacking thought process of short-term emotional satisfaction we try to get from the food (we knew 5 minutes ago about our goals, and we still know about them as we eat the wrong foods, but we stuff that ‘logical goal stuff’ down deep enough for long enough to go ahead with the bad food choice).

If you can use those smart, find-a-good-man/woman-with-a-job-skills your mother would be proud of as you approach the next craving moment you have with food, I think you can improve the choices you make, and become stronger in your ability to stay on course with your health & wellness goals as they relate to food.

To further kill the lust of food cravings – consider that cold-turkey is really the fastest way to make it happen. People who eat a bit of sugar, a bit of inflammatory foods, on a regular basis are keeping themselves constantly in the cycle. You won’t die if you don’t eat sugar for 30 days…and if you feel like you might, consider that for a minute. You should be connected to no thing so tightly that you feel as though you’ll die if you don’t have it.

To keep logic in the foreground of your food choices, if a craving hits, consider actually writing down a list of the things you’re trying to achieve and read it to yourself as you wait for the craving to pass. Or, make another choice. Your body may actually need nutrients, which you’re registering as “candy!”, so consider having a small meal or snack made up of protein, fat & some veggies.

And finally, to avoid reactionary thinking with food, you’ve got to remove ‘safety’, ‘comfort’, ‘happiness’, and other emotions from how food makes you feel. Food energizes you. Food keeps you alive. Food can give you mental clarity. Food can keep you from being cranky. It does not create safety, comfort, or happiness. Get real with that and you’ll get real with making food choices that give you short & long-term results you are happy with.