What is a Relationship with Food?

If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, it can seem a little alien to refer to our connection with food as a relationship. Most people don’t even think they have a relationship with food, but trust me, you do. The dictionary defines the term ‘relationship’ as ‘the way in which two or more people or things are connected’. Essentially, if you fuel your body with nutritious foods and goodness, your body will thank you in return. It is all connected. Let’s put it this way; you wouldn’t want to invite a friend into your home who you don’t get along with or doesn’t make you feel good, in the same way that the food you are consuming needs to be beneficial and enhancing for your body. Arguably even more so, given that you are not merely inviting food into your home but welcoming it inside your body.

You might not be aware of this but both the food you ingest and the way you feel about it, can impact you and your life. We all know that if you eat something that doesn’t agree with you, it can ruin your day. For example, ever indulged in a heavy piece of chocolate cake and felt ten times worse after? Consuming sugary foods can leave you feeling fatigued and stop you from operating productively. On the flipside, if you spend time lovingly preparing food for yourself and others, this tends to show up well in the body. For example, if you’re feeling tired and opt for a green juice as opposed to a milkshake, it can enhance the way you feel in that very moment. Relationships only work to their fullest potential when both sides are cooperating; if you take time when considering what types of foods to fuel your body with, it’ll result in a much happier, healthier, relationship.

But sometimes, relationships can turn ugly. Anyone can rely on food as a way to cope with busy and stressful lives (we’ve all been there) and many people who feel as though life is too much to handle, will use food as a way to control what’s happening on the inside. This is how relationships don’t work out. Putting an unhealthy strain on a relationship by giving your body excessive amounts of the wrong food can result in an unhealthy one. A common example is a trip to the cinema. What seems to be an innocent, 90-odd minutes of cathartic escapism is actually disguised as a blatant opportunity to binge on a variety of over-priced, unhealthy snacks. The association between going to the cinema and scoffing a bucket of popcorn is almost unbearably relative to today’s society, even the slight notion of not getting a tub of ‘Ben & Jerry’s’ ice-cream before the film starts is too much for some to bare. However, not only is this damaging to your relationship with food but also your pockets. My top tip that can save you money and get out of that hand-in-hand cinema-and-snacks mind-set is to bring your own healthy treats, such as my homemade Florentines or almond macaroons. This way, a trip to the cinema is no longer a stuff-your-face fest but a chance to enjoy a film and indulge on nutritious and tasty snacks that don’t burn a hole in your back pocket.

I am a firm believer in mindful eating and breaking this vicious circle that we seem to have been drawn into. For example, how often do you allow yourself that extra bar of chocolate because you know you’re going to the gym later? Too often. Having a healthy relationship with food means stopping looking at food as a reward for exercise. It means making conscious efforts to put healthy and nutritious foods into your body and start noticing all the things you can eat instead of the things you shouldn’t.

Something that you may not realise is that your relationship with food is massive. It encompasses so many aspects of life including your mood and wellbeing and withholds the potential to prevent conditions such as diabetes and obesity from happening. It’s about not being persuaded by those ‘Dine in for two for only £10’ and 2-for-1 deals on snacks or the quick-fix diet pills as seen on social media because a good relationship with food isn’t a quick-fix. Take it from me, it takes time and perseverance. We live in a society governed by Instagram diet hacks and marketing food ploys which can lead to over consuming and doing unnecessary things in a bid to get fit quick. Stop the fads and focus on building and strengthening your relationship with food and your body will thank you for it.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s all well and good talking about a positive relationship with food but how can I attain one? Simple. Stop comparing yourself to others, make healthy swaps, consider what you’re putting in your body and most importantly, practice mindful eating. Foods that agree with your body and that make you feel good.

Ultimately, your food choices and the relationship we either abuse or nurture, will be felt in the body, mind and emotions. Your relationship with food can develop just like your relationship with people, depending on how much you invest in them. Not only will it benefit you, but your vibrancy and zest for life will have a knock-on effect to those surrounding you. A worthwhile investment if ever there was one!