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Food as friend


Food as friend

Val MacDonald

My daughter expressed to me that a friend of hers always expects certain things of her, but then when she asks her friend to do something for her, it never happens. This is the all-take-and-no-give kind of relationship we're all familiar with if we've lived on this earth for a couple of decades or more.  We recognize it for what it is, and then depending on our personality and how entangled we are, we make a decision to either confront the person and request that there be a change, or not say anything but start telling that person that we're "busy" and hope that they take a hint.

I started thinking about how we are in so many relationships; with family, friends, co-workers, neighbours, members of communities that we participate in, etc.   We want these relationships to benefit us; we want them to be give-and-take relationships.

I started thinking about our relationship with food.  Each one of us is in relationship with food.  It's just something that doesn't get talked about.  We eat food.  Some of it we label as being "good", whether it's good for us or it tastes good to us. Some of it we label as being "bad"; again, whether it's bad for us or it tastes bad to us.  We expect to benefit from our food, whether it's the nourishment we're considering as we make our choices, or the taste.  We have our favourites, don't we?  

Just like friends, we go back to our favourites because we can rely on them to deliver for us.  Like the give-and-take relationship that is the ideal for a friend, we too want this with our food.  What good is a great tasting beef and bean chimichanga if an hour later you are suffering from extreme heartburn?  And although you may love chocolate chip cookies, can you expect them to be your lunch; satisfying your hunger and giving you enough energy to get you through the afternoon?  Of course not.

A recent study shows that we make our food choices based on taste first, and nutrition second. Also, that the hungrier we are, the less we care about nutrition.  Makes sense to me.  So, it comes down to making friends with our food.  We expect certain things from our food; great taste and an ability to satisfy our hunger.  Sometimes this hunger can be other than physical, and that's okay too.  If we are eating mindfully we can recognize when we are enjoying our food to satisfy our emotional needs.  The expression "comfort food" came out of the fact that we do take comfort in eating it.  

I want my comfort food to comfort me while I'm eating it, but also an hour after I've eaten it and the day after as well.  I don't want to have my food choices make me bloated, gassy or constipated.  I want more from my food.  The food I love has to love me back. Otherwise, we are going to have to have a conversation about where this relationship is going...