There is a lot to be said about the value of community and relationships. As humans, we are social by nature, but of course as individuals we all require various amounts of interaction with our family, friends, and the rest of society. Relationships are integral to our wellbeing and our state of health, and certainly on the flip side, time alone is just as important for creating a better relationship with yourself.
As women, we are very emotional creatures and that can be troublesome in a society that is dominated by the masculine influence and the notion that to be emotional is somehow detrimental. Along with relationships comes emotion, that’s just the territory. Relationships stir our emotions in ways that bring us joy and in ways that bring us frustration.
What’s interesting is the profound affect that relationships and emotion can have on our relationship with food.
What happens if you are a social creature who’s been plucked out of their normal social support structure but have difficulty adapting to your new surroundings or location?
What happens when you find it difficult to connect to new humans for various reasons; the insecurity of not fitting in probably being at the top of the list?
For many women, it is not uncommon for food to serve as the primary relationship when a supportive social structure is lacking. In a woman’s comfortable network, she feels supported, heard, cared for, and nourished on an emotional level.
Once that structure is stripped away from her, she may revert to reenacting the first human experience of feeling supported, loved, and nourished, and that is being fed. Our first experience with warmth, support, comfort, and love was when we were held and fed by our mother either at the breast or by bottle. The act of feeding as an infant stays with us the rest of our lives. Food becomes the failsafe fallback tool for creating sensations of feeling taken care of and nourished.
Food is readily available at rather cheap prices in most places across first-world countries. Major food companies have done extensive research to create “foods” that light up the pleasure zones in our brains. (I use quotations because I don’t really consider man-made foods using highly refined resources to be real food.) When we would cry out of discomfort as infants, our pleasure zones lit up as mom began to feed us. Now, as adults, we recreate similar sensations using “foods” that are engineered to be as powerful as drugs.
Now, if you are lonely and struggling to make connections with people, it is super easy to buy some cheap “food” that will light up your pleasure zones and make you feel happy and content for the short term. Trouble stirs when this becomes a trend, “food” serves as the primary relationship and “food” is all we can think about as a way to feel good.
So if you are struggling with using food as your primary relationship, how do you break the cycle? I’m not going to tell you to stop eating, because clearly using food as your primary relationship is serving a purpose for the short term. It’s getting you from one day to the next. If you were to take away the food that gives you pleasure a deep depression is almost predictable.
My suggestion is to brainstorm activities that you enjoy and then search in your local area for get togethers that include those activities. You can tap into the resource Meetup.com to search for group gatherings, book clubs, and various social activities. You can also use Facebook to search for online groups (stay tuned I have an invite for you) and live events in your area. Check out the good old news paper or the online version for the latest happenings and gatherings.
When you start to include opportunities in your life to meet people rather than remain isolated, you will find connections that feel nourishing and supportive. During this time of cultivating relationships, you can also begin adding in fresh food items that feel nourishing such as fruit that is in season. As you nourish yourself with meaningful relationships, and introduce fresh foods into your daily life, you will find that the need for processed foods will deminish.
To be happy in life and not fully dependent upon food for your happiness, your mind and soul must also be nourished. Finding ways that fullfill these needs, including a supportive social structure are imperative to creating happiness and an independent relationship from food.
If you are looking for more support in your life and increasing your social network, I have great news!
I have created a Facebook support group called Creating Youphoria3: Food and Body Freedom.
Please join us in conversation, make new friends, and feel a sense of connection with women learning how to love their bodies and find peace with food.
I hope to see you there soon!