A Note About This Feature: Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about. Currently, the focus is on food, cooking, and eating.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent some time in my life, TOO much time in my life, doing things for other people and not for myself. Let me be clear, I don’t mind doing a favor or helping someone out, but what I mean is that I’ve made decisions and took actions about MY OWN life because of what someone else said or did or asked or wanted and without the foremost regard for what I wanted or needed to do at the time. Some of these things were pretty minor and irrelevant in the long run and others . . . not so much. Regardless of how big or small they have been, the fact remains that I have made decisions about my life for the benefit of others, at least occasionally, at the sacrifice of my own well-being.
I probably will again in the future, too. I’m not perfect and, at my core, I like to contribute to making others happy and content. But, here’s the thing, I’ve sort of figured out that I like to make myself happy, too, and to top it off, that’s actually what I have the most control over. Funny how that all works out.
So, what does this have to do with food? Quite a lot, actually, as doing things for other people has often manifested in eating for or because of other people. There are so many times when I have eaten things that I didn’t want or enjoy or have interest in, in some sort of attempt to: fit in, not be rude, get an emotional uplift, be defiant, be compliant, [fill in ridiculous reason here]. If you’re thinking you want an example or two to understand how this works, I’m happy to provide them:
I’ve eaten food I didn’t like or want because it was offered to me and I didn’t want to appear rude or ungrateful.
I’ve eaten food after I was way too full because I didn’t want to be wasteful when there are others who go without.
I’ve eaten food not out of hunger, but out of anger or pain when I’ve been upset (food is more comforting and safer at times than dealing with the person and problem at hand).
I’ve eaten food I couldn’t afford because I was trying to fit in with others who could afford it and encouraged me to join in.
Like so many other things in life, our food choices can turn into so much more than hunger, nutrients, or enjoyment, and can become about something else entirely. This is a problem. It is a problem because all choices have outcomes and all of this eating for reasons outside of myself had way too many negative outcomes for me personally.
Sometimes I felt sick, stuffed, too full. Other times I suffered undue stress, working to pay off credit cards because I’d spent money I didn’t have. There were times when I felt bad emotionally about it afterwards – guilt, maybe even shame or embarrassment set in. There were extra pounds gained and a dissatisfaction with my level of energy. There was the knowledge that my health was being compromised – getting too much food, yet not enough of the vitamins and nutrients that I needed.
When I decided, almost two years ago, to make changes in the way I eat it was about more than weight or appearance. It was about owning up to the fact that food had power over me in ways that it shouldn’t have and that other people had power of me in ways they shouldn’t have. I didn’t want to eat out of anger or guilt or to please someone else. I wanted to eat when I was hungry and interested in food. I wanted to eat what I wanted, try new things, and say no to things I wasn’t interested in, regardless of social pressure of any kind. I wanted to eat with pleasure and enjoyment and to provide nourishment to my body and mind.
On my terms.
I’m not perfect in my goals with this, but I am certainly much improved with them. As a result, my relationship with food has totally changed. It is a relationship that is built on more knowledge and respect for both myself and for food systems and production. It is a relationship that is much healthier than it has ever been before and one that is more exciting, too. It’s filled with possibilities and boundaries – possibilities of exploring new things (sometimes I try cooking new things even if I may be the only one in the house that likes it!) and boundaries that suit my best interests, tastes, and preferences (I say no, politely but without guilt, to food that doesn’t fit into my lifestyle).
So, maybe in this way I am selfish – but I’m okay with that. When I look closely at the plethora of food issues our world faces (obesity, malnutrition, starvation, depletion of resources, food borne illnesses, food-related diseases) I think we could all likely be best served by being a bit more selfish in these areas. I also think that making decisions about food driven by knowledge and a selfish desire to be mentally and physically happy and healthy isn’t such a bad idea. In fact, I’d encourage just about anyone to practice a little selfishness in this regard.
Previous Entries in This Series:
#5 – Why I Eat . . . To Heal and To Fuel
#4 – Why I Eat . . . Food From My Own Kitchen
#2 – Why I Eat . . . With Reverence
I think you have touched on many issues here – fitting in socially, not honoring our own desires and needs, and i find myself totally identifying with this post. Thank you so much!
Oh, you’re welcome and thank you for your comments!
Reblogged this on 7 Great Choices and commented:
I read this today and thought many people could identify with what we do – especially regarding our relationships with food.
Very well put – nicely done, and good for you! 🙂
Well done. Honest and insightful. I so enjoy your Why Wednesday posts. 🙂
Thanks, Nicole! That’s so kind of you to say!
I agree, most people are pleasers. I too think it is also important to take care of your own needs. We have to be in charge of ourselves and take care of ourselves. So being selfish is good 🙂 I know I need to be happy to be truly give to the people I love.
You’re absolutely right about that being happy thing! Thanks, Cindy!
I’ve struggled with this a lot also and I think becoming vegetarian has also freed me from it a bit. Because I say “oh I can’t eat that” so often, it’s easier now for me to say “oh, no thanks!”. Great post!
Excellent point about vegetarianism. I do still occasionally run into people who try to convince me that, say, chicken doesn’t count though. It’s almost funny, really! Thank, Joanne!
Hey that was a great read. I really loved the pictures! Keep up the great work! 🙂
Thanks! I appreciate the feedback!
You know what … I’ve done that too – eat after I’m full because I don;t want the food on say my kids plates to go into the trash … so wasteful – and stupid on my behalf … nice post 🙂
Thanks so much – I guess I’m not the only one! 🙂
Really enjoyed reading this today. I needed it! I think as women we all struggle with our relationship with food. I know what you mean about eating too much but not enough nutrients. I’m working on getting better at it all and this post was so inspiring 🙂
Thanks so much, Amanda! I really appreciate your input.
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I am so glad that you found me so I could come and find you. Your post articulates how messed up we have a society have made something that should be nourishing and connecting instead of stress inducing. (PS: Love the cupcakes). It is something I have struggled with and continue to struggle with going the opposite way of policing myself to what I am or am not allowed to eat (other people ignored, just the computer telling me what to do). Your blog is super inspirational – thank you so much for sharing yourself.
Thank you so very much! I really appreciate your comment and I love your take on the situation – the idea of ‘nourishing and connecting instead of stress inducing’ is wonderful!
I couldn’t agree more! I think we all eat for so many reasons besides actually fueling our bodies. It’s definitely a daily struggle for me to try and implement portion control. I salute your honesty and outlook on changing old habits:)
Thanks so much!