Exploring Issues of Nutrition, Weight and Body Image
by David R. Farnsworth, MA, LPC, NCC
Food is an interesting thing. It nourishes us, fuels us, and provides a sense of comfort because one of our basic and most primal needs is being met. It quenches the death anxiety knowing that we have the sustenance to continue living for one more day. In America, food is not quite looked upon merely as the core identity and purpose that it has…fuel for our bodies.
There became a time when food in our society morphed into a magnet that all celebrations were centered around; weddings, funerals, birthdays, or anniversaries. Our identities are often infused with food. For example, I cannot think of my cousin without thinking that she is the one who makes the amazing chocolate peanut butter pie! It is part of who she is. Food also has become entertainment, bragging rights, and even part of how we impress others. What is the traditional American date? Dinner and a movie.
The point of this sociological rant is not to imply that any of these things are bad, however, it is merely to point out that we have evolved successfully as a society to the point where the majority of us do not have to hunt, gather, or pray to the gods for rain in order to have food for the winter. In short, we don’t really see food as purely a basic, primal need to fuel our bodies. And this basic fact merely sets the groundwork for a learned and reinforced dysfunctional relationship with how we use and conceptualize food in our lives.
Because food is directly tied to the quality of our health, we often see the manifestation of that relationship through our physical bodies and ailments. This becomes internalized in such ways that we then incur additional societal stressors feeling judged and inadequate. We easily see the struggle becoming more and more complex. Where does it start? How does it stop?
The tricky thing about food as comfort is that it actually does comfort us. Thus, why is it unhealthy to allow ourselves to be comforted by food? Honestly, it isn’t – it just becomes a problem when that connection is your only source of comfort because it could easily get out of hand. Sometimes we don’t see food as the powerful force that it can be.
Since October, a dedicated group of people has joined together to deconstruct and discover their relationships with food and how it has insidiously contributed to emotional management. We have uncovered some great insights that have helped with behavioral changes and also set goals that were more attainable. Please reach out to us if you have any questions regarding this group. We are always looking for more people to join!