Re-examining our Relationship with Food
The weight-loss and diet industry is worth more than the weight lost in gold (about 80 billion dollars in the USA), which is staggering, when you consider the abysmally low success rate. There is irrefutable evidence that diets do not work, with roughly 5% of people maintaining their weight loss. Yet, we readily eat up news of the latest fad diet. It’s a vicious cycle of self-torture, yet we all know torture doesn’t work either! We act as if we’re imprisoned in our bodies, when it’s a privilege to be alive on the planet.
Although body positivity is gaining momentum, and psychological as well as physiological issues have been researched, attitudes in society are kind of stuck. Rigid viewpoints are gaining traction in uncertain times, as people look to outdated beliefs as a source of familiar comfort, regardless of how uncomfortable and restrictive they may be. It’s as if we don’t truly value the freedoms we have within our grasp, or that to be personally accountable for our actions is too overwhelming. To live is to take risks.
There is no greater comfort than food, sometimes. A plethora of televised cooking contest shows and celebrity chef series is testimony to our global obsession. A favourite pastime before the pandemic was to sit down with friends and family for sumptuous shared meals, whether at home or out at restaurants. The term “lockdown weight” has negatively encouraged crash diets, and ‘fat shaming’ continued relentlessly while millions were lost to Covid-19 and the whole world self-quarantined.
A query once dropped into my mind and my automatic answer surprised me: “What if the choice was between death or living in a body with disease?” Then, I knew I’d be grateful to be alive, even if it was in a not-so-perfect body. I remind myself of this reframing. Food addiction is real, with the main culprits being highly processed food, particularly flour and sugar that act on the brain in similar ways to narcotics. Our relationship with food can be re-examined through this lens of understanding…
To be fair, it’s far more complex than ‘just’ choosing to eat a bowl of salad, instead of a packet of biscuits. It’s not about willpower, otherwise successful dieters (and successful people) wouldn’t put all their weight back on (plus extra) within five years. Eating can be our medicine, as well as the means of our self-destruction (like any addictive process). It’s about self-love, and that, is as elusive as a successful diet. More than ever, we need to show ourselves compassion and eat for wellbeing <3