Of all your relationships, your relationship with food probably has the most drama. When you are young it can take the form of the kind of drama that often lands you or one of your friends crying in the bathroom at a party. As an adult, the drama continues until you have kicked food to the curb and began to divide assets. However, unlike your first love that cheated on you and broke your heart or your dead-beat ex-husband, food is a relationship that needs to be nurtured. It’s time to make up with food. Make-up sex optional.
In all “damaged” relationships, it is advisable to go to a relationship counselor, so for this relationship it makes sense to make an appointment with a nutritionist or even a health and lifestyle coach. Holistic Health Coach Natalie Berthold is no stranger to food drama, as a recovered bulimic she now helps others with disordered eating and family and systemic dynamics that affect all areas of life. She was kind enough to share with me her 7 tips for building a better relationship with your food.
1. Indulge in Quality Time Together. Human beings are so caught up in the rat race. We think that we are better at multitasking than we are, and we do it way too often. When we are allocating our attention to too many things at once, something suffers. The same goes towards food and relationships. It is a big no-no to go on a date where there is a sports game playing in the background, or where you or your partner (or both) is texting and/or on their phone the entire time. It is rude, disrespectful and basically saying “I value this more than you.” The same thing happens when we eat in front of the TV, computer, or our cell phones. We devalue ourselves, our food and the life force it is capable of bringing us. Like dating, it is bad eating etiquette. Shut off the distractions and focus one-on-one with your food. Light a candle, pull up a chair and stay awhile in focused attention.
2. Slow and Steady Wins the Race. I work with a lot of people who say “I love food so much, that I just gobble it right down.” Hmmmm, that’s funny. Last time I checked, I only did things quickly that I couldn’t wait to get over with–like taxes or taking out the garbage. I wouldn’t make love as quickly as possible. I would prolong it with foreplay, during play and the after snuggles. I certainly wouldn’t get it over with in record speed. So, ask yourself, do I really love food or am I just trying to get this (feeling) over with. If you still think you love food, treat it as such. Savor every moment with it. Prolong it. Let it linger on your plate and fork for a while. Let it stay in your mouth for a moment. Sit at the table for 30 minutes with it. Treat it like it is the hottest lover in the world. Hell, you could even have an orgasm with your food (not literally–this is not about cucumbers), by simply having a highly pleasurable and peak state experience with it. Bottom line, if you really love it, you’ll take your time with it.
3. Engage All of the Senses. When you are with your lover, take the time to really engage in all of the senses – the touch, smell, emotions, taste, sight and sounds of them, you, and your interaction together. You savor each moment, so do the same with your food. We are often not fully satiated unless we have a certain texture (I never feel satisfied if I drink a meal – I need to crunch or chew on something), palate, taste, shape, aroma, etc. Imagine you are a food connoisseur. Much like those wine peeps take the time to detect woodsyness in their wine (whatever that means), take some type to decipher your food ‘hmm, is that a hint of rosemary I taste in here? Perhaps it is thyme?” You get the idea. Also, we spend so much time affirming what we don’t like in life, that we don’t affirm what we do like. The same holds true for food consistency and texture “I hate squid. That chewy, slimy texture is disgusting” and yet we don’t really know what we DO like. So, what do you like? It’s time to experiment.
4. Quality, not Quantity. There is a time in your life where the swinging singles scene is really appealing. It is also in the same era where you go to bed scarfing down a pizza and wake up to delivery from McDonalds. Read: not high quality. Lots of men/partners and fast food are, well, both fast, yummy and not healthy or sustainable. They are lacking in quality, nutrients, and life-force energy. At a certain point in life, it is important to value quality, not quantity. The body actually stays hungry until it gets all the nutrients it needs, and empty calories and empty sex, are just temporary quick fixes. Like a long lasting loving connection, food that is grown locally from a farmers’ market is what nurtures you in the long run.
5. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is…Literally! This goes along with #4. It is important to go for quality. Men are a dime a dozen, but a good one is worth his weight in gold, right? Your mouth, and your body (we live and die by the GI tract) deserve some money well spent on this, meaning organic food (mostly greens) grown and cooked with love. People always complain about how much it costs to eat healthy. To that, I say, you really can’t afford not to. What you spend in food, you save on medical bills. Additionally, upon looking at their spending habits, they have no problem spending money on shoes, purses, etc., so perhaps you need to re evaluate where your money goes. Personally, there is no better investment than your health and well being.
6. It’s What Is In the Inside that Counts. Hotties, boy toys and real-life Barbies are fun to look at and fun to play with. Likewise, I feel like Jell-o, fruit roll-ups, gogurts (how fun is it to squirt yogurt out of a tube into your mouth?), s’mores and french fries (cigarette dipped in ketchup anyone?) are also fun to look at and play with. However, it is what is inside that counts, and if there is nothing there on the inside (that means your little chip n’ dale), then you should move on. Likewise, if your food is not chock full of nutrients inside, kick it to the curb. Even though your kale might just look like a limp piece of green lettuce on the outside, it is super beneficial on the inside. Looks fade, substance does not.
7. Have Fun! I work with a lot of couples who are having difficulties. One of the questions I ask them is, “What do you do for fun?” The responses I get are often startling. “Nothing.” “Rake leaves.” “Watch TV.” “I don’t know.” “Does clipping our toenails count as fun?” Oh boy! I really believe that the couple who plays together, stays together. Life is too short to be so damn serious all the time. You have to get out of your same old routine! Spice it up a little! The same is true with food. It is important to have fun with it! Try different recipes. Try different spices. Try different techniques. While you are cooking, put on some Pandora and dance! Enlist your children’s help and get them involved in washing, grating and cooking. Food doesn’t have to just be a necessity, it can provide you much enjoyment as well!
Natalie Berthold is a Holistic Health Coach and Family Constellation Therapist. After healing herself through a 15-year battle with Bulimia, Natalie now has a thriving practice helping others with disordered eating, and family and systemic dynamics that affect all areas of life. When not at work, you can find Natalie walking her two adorable rescue pups, Argos and Athena, around Park Slope, Brooklyn where she currently resides.