Food is a basic, primal, essential component of our lives.
It plays a role in our personal and cultural history. It informs our biology and genetic expression. It triggers powerful memories and holds negative and positive associations. It has a strong place in the rituals of our seasons, and our day to day lives. Food provides us with a wealth of sensation, pleasure, creativity, nutrients, health, energy, and metaphor.
The choices we make around food are powerful indicators of our relationship to self, namely our attunement with our own needs, our sense of self-worth, our sense of lack and security, our experience of empowerment or disempowerment, and even our relationship with our mothers!
Our behaviors around food can highlight the inner experiences, beliefs, or feelings that are driving us. Most of the time, these are unconscious to us. Food is primal and has been apart of our lives from the beginning. Literally as our bodies were forming within our mothers’ wombs we are being nourished by the foods she ate and those flavors and nutrients and even smells were coming in through the placenta and building a foundation for our own relationship with food. Breastmilk by mom is mutable and shifting to meet baby’s needs from morning to night and throughout the months of nursing. Formula is not mutable, but static in its composition, only the amount given changes for baby.
Solid foods are introduced in the container of our relationship to our caregivers and family of origin. Are meal times pleasurable for baby? Or stressful? Is baby given appropriate foods at the appropriate developmental stage? The stress of a meal can be internal (too much food, too complex, too soon; or not enough food) or it can be external (is there tension in the family? Does it feel safe to baby to explore food with mouth and fingers?)
Family meals can lay additional foundations as children grow up. Is there enough food? Is poverty an issue? Do family members get along? How is food viewed in the family? Is the family mindlessly eating in front of the television and not talking to one another directly? Is there a shared meal from which everyone partakes? Is the children’s food separate from the adults? Is the food beautiful? Tasty? A celebration? A chore?
The culture has its role as well. Eat more of this, less of that. This food will kill you, this food will save you. Lose weight. Gain weight. Try and attain an ever shifting and impossible ideal by controlling your relationship with food and your body. Women and men are subjected to this onslaught. We are all told to be beautiful according to media’s standards, which have nothing to do with being healthy, or culturally diverse.
As we grow up we experience life and as a result of our experiences we make decisions. We decide whether we are lovable or not, whether we are safe, whether we are worthy of love and kindness by others, whether to hide our bodies or exploit them to get what we need, whether we belong or don’t belong and how we feel about all of it. This is normal, to make such decisions. We are human. Life is messy and we are all doing the very best we can.
One day, though, you can begin to take stock. You can begin to reflect and notice your behaviors and investigate what decisions you did make about yourself. And sure it may have seemed logical at the time. But those limiting beliefs are not serving you anymore. Believing you are unlovable, leads only to being unlovable. When we can forgive ourselves for believing that, with understanding and compassion for how we drew such a conclusion, then we are free to investigate being lovable. And if we are lovable, than it follows that we are also worthy of great care and consideration. The person who can best supply that care and consideration? It’s you.
Here are 8 key points when it comes to using food as a gateway: