Food and Relationships

It occurs to me that with all the articles about food, recipes, and seasonal updates flying back and forth in these newsletters, I might have failed to emphasize the fact that I do not think of food as the most important factor in your health, and maybe not even one of the top three. The previous article is written to help you plan your meals better and hopefully eat better as a result. For example, I think that eating by snacking can be pretty unhealthy – and by snacking I mean eating processed foods out of a box or package without your own act of preparation or cooking involved, at random intervals throughout the day, in lieu of eating three whole, balanced, cooked meals. The knowledge in the above article can provide an alternative to that – but only if you’re already seeking an alternative. Sometimes we’re happier when snacking. I’d like to take myself as an example. Last year, while studying to become a holistic health counselor, I snacked. You could go so far as to call me a professional snacker. It doesn’t take a classical education to know that a professional snacker and a certified holistic health counselor are not supposed to unite in one individual. At the time, I thought about it this way: “if I don’t indulge myself in salted cashews and chocolate chips and corn chips and other dubiously healthy foods that are available at the health food store (in the aisle labeled “Guilt Free Section”), how will I understand why it’s a problem?” Of course, I did understand it was a problem, because I was suffering physically, but I convinced myself that I still didn’t feel badly enough and should keep trying. It wasn’t hard, though, because despite the way I felt, I needed the snack foods. Somehow they were more important than physically feeling “healthy.”

Looking back on it now, I realized that I was eating this way out of loneliness. Lacking the…whatever-it-is that you get from being around friends and loved ones who support you, I was much more likely to crave chocolate, cookies, or anything else that gave instant satisfaction and stress relief. I remember once stopping at the store on the way home and, in addition to buying all my other healthy food, grapping a plastic carton of chocolate covered peanuts. I guess that wouldn’t have been so bad, if I had stretched them out over a week like a normal person, but instead I pulled them out of a shopping bag (somehow) while crushed into a corner on a crowded subway and ate almost half before getting to my stop. All the while I was thinking, “These people must think I’m a real glutton. Ha! If only they knew the truth: that I actually help people get healthy and get off sugar. Man, I wish I could stop eating these.”

I only can attribute this problem to missing relationships because these habits all changed drastically when I saw all my friends again and moved in with my wife. Of course, any old relationships won’t satisfy your cravings: they’ve got to be good ones. Getting rid of the friends who don’t really care about you and instead spending time with people who do and who you like can add many more years to your life than giving up sugar or eating only whole foods – but guess what? The latter doesn’t seem so hard when the former is taken care of.

Now, I’m not saying you can eat whatever you want as long as you’re in love. Just recently I started feeling depressed from having had too much sugar, even though I’ve been happy otherwise. But if you’re struggling to ignore cravings for snacks or junk food, take a minute to see if you’re not really craving something more like good companionship.