Day 36–100 Days To A Healthy Relationship With Food
The thing about having an unhealthy relationship with food is that you can’t let your guard down for a second. There is always an opportunity to make an unhelpful choice, or want to.
Routine is your friend. Staying positive is your friend. Increasing your knowledge is your friend.
But you will still be tested.
And the hardest person to say No to is yourself.
I’ve always found it easy to give advice to others, but very hard to follow my own advice. I know that emotional eating is unhelpful. If I was with a friend of mine and they did it, I would want to talk to them and help them. I’d be understanding, I’d help them research it, understand it, support them getting professional help if they wanted. I’d join in with any strategies they wanted to use to progress — for example, if the plan was to call a friend any time day or night when they felt like bingeing, I would want to be that friend.
But when I emotionally eat, I just spiral. Beat myself up. Dissolve into guilt and shame. And do it again.
Makes no sense, does it?
This article describes some tests that Ethan Kross and Igor Grossmann undertook. They wanted to test what they called “Solomon’s Paradox”. King Solomon, from the Old Testament of The Bible, was famously intelligent and wise with the affairs of others, yet less successful at managing his own chaotic life.
They designed their tests around a hypothetical story of a relationship where one person was cheating on the other. They divided the study partcipants into two groups. One talked as if it was they themselves in this situation (their own partner had cheated). The others talked as if it was a situation happening to other people (friends or peers). They observed and measured the ways the two groups talked:
“We found that when people talked about their friends’ or peers’ conflicts, they were 22% more willing to search for more information about the circumstances of the conflict. When talking about other people’s conflicts, individuals were also 31% more likely to look at the situation from multiple perspectives. Perhaps most interesting, they were 15% more willing to consider a compromise solution to others’ problems rather than their own.” — Igor Grossmann, ‘Why We Give Great Advice To Others But Can’t Tale It Ourselves’, forbes.com
So, it’s a thing. There is research and data to back up this idea that we find it easier to help other people than ourselves.
Today is St David’s Day, a very important day in Wales — where I live — because St David is the patron saint of Wales. My wife has an old bakestone (like a flat edgeless frying pan, pictured at the top of this article) which has been handed down the Welsh generations of her family. I’d been restoring it over lockdown and thought today would be the perfect day to give it a test run. Even better, I had some spare ingredients and a welsh bakestone recipe book given to us by another family member.
I found a recipe which made use of ingredients we had around the house, and crucially, would use the whole cooking area (since this was the first thing to be cooked on it since its deep clean, there was a possibility it would need to be thrown out if the pan seemed to be leeching anything nasty out of it).
The bakestone and recipe worked a treat. No sign of any reason to throw away the resulting flat cake (‘Tiesen Ffwrdd a Hi’ in Welsh, literally “quick-mix cake”).
It looked and smelt amazing. I wondered how good it would taste.
…and that’s how I found myself wolfing down cake, unthinkingly, outside my eating window. I’d destroyed two whole slices before I even knew what I was doing.
That’s a lie.
I knew what I was doing.
But I was shocked at how quickly all the knowledge and discipline of this project went out of the window!
How was I not able to say No to myself? I only needed to wait half an hour and I could have eaten it without any issues (such is the strange way Intermittent Fasting works).
Now, let’s get some perspective. This isn’t a big issue. I stopped after 2 slices. I didn’t say “screw it” and eat the whole lot. This is not a big thing.
But it fascinated me.
I’ve written before about how food is near drug-like, and this was a case in point. I couldn’t resist the temptation.
I don’t have answers, I just have observations.
If you are trying to change your relationship with food it is a long, hard process and you will face tests, because the hardest person to say No to is yourself.
Today can’t count as on track. I have to be honest with myself, because if I start to bend the rules now, even a tiny bit, then it is a slippery slope. Back on it tomorrow.
35/36/100 (Number of days goals met/ number of days into project/ 100)
Be responsible about food and weight management. Research a healthy weight, and healthy methods of weight management for you physically and mentally. Remember, you are not defined by what you weigh. I am not a nutritionist.