Day 82–100 Days 100 Ways To A Healthy Relationship With Food
A rather magical thing is happening as I near the end of this project. Food is moving from being a source of stress, to becoming a source of joy.
Today my partner and I sat in the sunshine at our table in the garden and ate a home-cooked veggie brunch with grilled vegetables, beans, a fried egg and toast. I loved every single mouthful. I was hungry for the meal when I sat down to eat it. I ate at a reasonable speed, finishing roughly the same time as my partner. We enjoyed a good conversation as we ate.
This may seem totally normal to you and nothing to write home about, but for me, this type of experience is new.
Before this project, I would probably would have over-snacked in the morning (likely to be comfort eating) and wouldn’t have been hungry. I’d have eaten the meal anyway, wolfing it down as I always did, then gone into the kitchen to hunt for sweet treats to finish (like chocolate or biscuits, or both). It would set up a sugar high, and then crash, that would have caused more over-snacking in the afternoon.
However good the setting or the conversation, deep down and in the back of my mind I would have been worrying about my weight, feeling guilty or ashamed (or both). Probably, because it’s Friday, I’d have planned a fair few drinks later to escape all these feelings. This would have set the path to late night snacking and a hangover that wouldn’t stop me taking a normal part in family life the next day, but would be enough to get me raiding the biscuit tin and chocolate stash to sate the sugar cravings.
A friend of mine has a favourite saying:
“Everything is connected”
…and with me and food, I can see that now. The difference 82 days later is that some — in fact, most — of these connections are now turning positive in some way.
To celebrate my new, improving relationship with food (and drink) here are three things I enjoy about food (and drink). No research today, just my own opinions:
1. Food and Drink Are Great Social Scene-Setters
Some of my favourite memories with friends involve food and drink. When we lived in London we used to meet up with another couple every few months and try to cook the most ambitious, outlandish meals for each other, and reach the upper limits of our (tiny) budget on wine. We had triumphs and disasters, and both were as entertaining and enjoyable as each other.
There is something about sitting down for a drink with a friend and putting the world to rights which just feels so cathartic, useful and bonding. You’re not getting drunk together, but you are letting alcohol lower your guard ever so slightly, so you can express yourself, listen, and discuss with a touch more freedom.
2. Food and Drink Are Great Sources Of Creativity
I’ve learnt to brew my own beer in lockdown. In a box in the garage I found a book which just happened to be one of the most trusted instruction manuals for homebrewing. I bought some inexpensive equipment and gave it a go. It’s my new favourite hobby. It has the perfect level of attention required that you are absorbed, but not stressed. It’s very hard to get wrong, you can listen to music or the radio while you do it, and the results are tasty. It teaches you patience, it gets you interested in learning, and, the best part, it gives you a whole load of bottles of unique beer that you can share, for free (which everybody loves) with your mates.
I love the Summer because it’s a time I can get the BBQ out. Again, I love to experiment, learn new techniques and try different ingredients (more and more vegetarian recipes). There is something about lighting a fire and cooking on it that evokes our ancestors — it connects deep within. Add in a sunny evening, a group of friends, some tunes on in the background, a cold beer or two, and I’m in heaven.
3. Food, The Great Outdoors and Exercise Are A Lovely Mix
I’m currently reading ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. She hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, alone, at a moment in her life when she felt lost. I was recommended it by Maryam, and it has been every bit as good as she promised. Cheryl writes powerfully about her moments of hunger and thirst as she undertakes such a physically gruelling trek. She starts fantasising about bottles of Snapple, and she describes luxuriating in each one she gets to drink when she has the money and opportunity.
If you go for a long run, or walk for hours, or spend all day at the beach, that feeling when you satisfy your hunger or thirst is so vital. It’s as if you can feel the nutrients entering the cells of your body and fuelling you up. It’s a very important reminder that exercise and fresh air are fun and healthy, and that food and drink are there to nourish and sustain us.
It feels so good to be developing a far more positive relationship with food than ever before. I wanted to celebrate by writing about just a few of the things I love about food and drink.
On track. It’s Friday and I always enjoy my weekends of no-fasting and my two (per night on Friday and Saturday) much-anticipated beers.
78/82/100 (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.