Eating is Feeding
I was having a discussion with my sister about eating habits. We both came up with the same visual image at the same time. A scene near the beginning of Victor, Victoria where Julie Andrews walks by the window of the restaurant and she is starving. She sees an incredibly obese man devouring a cream puff dessert. It evokes such an overwhelming feeling of hunger in her that she faints dead away on the sidewalk. There are many reasons why people eat, but really it's all about feeding. However, what we fail to pay attention to is exactly what we are feeding. The trick to health is to balance the reasons why you eat so that no one reason takes over. By feeding different things at different times, you can avoid the pitfalls that turn a survival instinct into a desire into a need into an addiction. The trick is to ask what you're feeding...
Feeding the body is the most basic reason for eating, and when we are feeding our bodies, we have to pay attention to the combinations of foods that we eat and the nutritional content of our diet. We may not eat kale because we love it, but we love how we feel when we are healthy, and kale is one of those marvelous tools to get to that point.
Feeding the soul is another reason for eating. When we feel lonely, bored, overwhelmed or sad, we have an emptiness. That emptiness needs to be filled and we will often turn to food. This is a throwback to our childhood when we were given comfort food after a hard day or a treat on our birthday. It is intertwined with love and support and caring. We learn to use food to salve our soul.
Feeding our relationships is yet another reason we eat. Sharing a meal with a friend, our family or the importance of festival eating are often what fills our calendar from week to week and month month. The year revolves around feasts and fasts... indulging and abstaining. We often will include foods that have meaning, or a historical connection or a sensuous aspect. When we fast, we often dream about foods. Many people during wartimes would have rationing making eating a sliver of chocolate the most decadent of moments, and a roast beef the stuff of dreams.
Today eating has become the subject of a philosophy. More people label themselves based upon their eating: vegetarian, vegan, lact0-ov0, raw, macrobiotic. We have forgotten that food feeds various things and to deny, avoid or eliminate that can sever us from the balance in our lives that underlies our emotional and physical health. We cannot think of eating as exclusively feeding our bodies just as we cannot eat only to soothe our souls. Because if you live with a lack, a giving up of something that had meaning, or had purpose, then it's simply another hole to fill with something else.