If I really stop and think about the whole idea of “living to eat” vs. “eating to live”, it really makes me consider the power that food has – Or rather, the power we GIVE food. If I was “eating to live” rather than “living to eat”, I would be just as happy with a piece of celery, as I would a piece of pecan pie – But I’m not. When I think of a reward for a job well done or a special occasion, I don’t think about giving someone a hardboiled egg, I think about giving them a box of chocolates. If I dig even deeper, why am I even using food as a reward in the first place? Why does a treat usually imply something yummy and sweet? When I’ve had a hard day or I’m stressed out about something, why is it that I find comfort in a bag of Doritos, but not a spinach salad? We “use” food. We give it the ability to make or break us. If we avoid the treats, we’re “good”. If we indulge, we’re “bad”. We use food to make us feel better, but if we use it too much, it makes us feel worse. Why? How did we allow food to have this power over us?
Just like we give the number on the scale, we give food too much credit. It’s one thing to enjoy a nice meal with a group of friends, but it’s an entirely different thing to “use” that food to determine how we feel. Why should I feel like a better person because I ordered a chicken salad, than I would be if I ordered the chicken fettuccine? We allow food to make us feel guilty if we eat the wrong thing (or too much of it). Why should we feel so bad about enjoying a piece of birthday cake if we know that it’s going to be really REALLY good? We allow food to be the “go to” when we’re anxious. What makes us think that the Doritos are going to make us feel better? If we can try to think of food as just food, maybe we can try and take away some of the power. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be easy and it’s going to take a lot of practice, but isn’t it worth a try? Aren’t YOU worth it?
The following excerpt is from the November 2012 issue of Overeaters Anonymous’ publication Lifeline.
“Food is not my best friend, my confidante or my lover. Food does not fix broken promises, broken hearts or broken dishwashers. It doesn’t clean my house, organize my life or organize my mind. Food won’t hold my hand and walk me through the dark when I am afraid or whisper good advice in my ear when I am about to screw up. Food does not carry a tissue in its back pocket to wipe away tears, nor does food have a shoulder to lean on when I just can’t go another step. It does not fix any of my problems.
Food is not my advocate when I am treated unfairly or my spokesperson when I can’t speak for myself. Food does not make right old wrongs, does not erase childhood trauma or make past abuse finally okay. It does not eliminate long-standing grudges, old mistakes or pain. Food does not make the disappointment go away or play games with me when boredom sets in. Food does not help me deal with a job I hate, a person I hate or my own self-hate. Food does not give me things, will not make me prettier or smarter or thinner (especially not thinner).
Food will cover up the truth, food will distort reality, and food will pretend to do all the things that food really can’t do.
Food, I am learning my friends, is just that. It’s just food.”