Dining with Myself…Uh oh!

By Michelle May, M.D.

(Now I dare you to try to get Billy Idol’s song Dancing with Myself out of your head!)

For twenty years, I had a love-hate relationship with food. Now, I’m a foodie: I eat what I love and I love what I eat.beautiful pasta meal

I’m also a people person–so not surprisingly, one of my favorite activities is eating with my friends and family. Ironically, as a professional speaker traveling around the country, I often eat alone.

When you think about eating by yourself, what comes to mind?

  • Great! A chance to experience a wonderful meal!
  • Eating by myself is borrrr-ring!
  • Everyone must think I’m pathetic and don’t have any friends to eat with.
  • Good! Now I can eat whatever I want and as much as I want!
  • Everyone is judging me for my size and food choices.
  • Uh, oh… I can’t trust myself alone with food!

Whether eating by yourself conjures up boredom, embarrassment, anticipation, or fear, it gives you a little hint about the state of your relationship with food.

Your Relationship with Food

You may have wondered about that strange phrase: a relationship with an inanimate object? Food?

Just like a relationship with a partner, your thoughts and feelings about food reveal the state of your relationship. Would you say that your relationship with food reflects love, care, curiosity, anticipation, joy, and contentment? Or is it boring, predictable, taken for granted–or even abusive?

Since this is an important lifelong relationship, perhaps it’s time to reignite that spark by having a love affair with your food. I don’t mean the secretive, cheating kind of affair. I mean rediscovering the reason you fell in love in the first place.

Have an Affair with Your Food

I believe that healing your relationship with food requires you to love food more, not less. Think about it: when you really love someone, you spend time with them, give them your full attention, and respect them. So make a date with yourself… and be good company!

  1. Take yourself OUT to dinner; lunch is fine too if you don’t want to rush into anything.
  2. Select a special restaurant where you are unlikely to run into anyone you know so you can enjoy the experience privately. It doesn’t need to be expensive-just known for its great food and ambiance. Choose a place you’ve always wanted to go or one that has been highly recommended by the concierge, a food critic, or a trusted foodie.
  3. Dress for the occasion so you feel your best–you’re worth it!
  4. Leave your book, computer, and other distractions at home; put your phone in airplane mode so you won’t be disturbed.
  5. Ask for the best table, preferably one with a window view–or my favorite, a view of the staff preparing your meal!
  6. Take your time perusing the menu, asking questions, and paying attention to what really appeals to you. Skip the buffet, the ordinary, the healthiest, or the cheapest items unless that is what you really want. Keep in mind that you don’t want to ruin this special occasion by feeling stuffed so order only as much food as you can comfortably enjoy without regret.
  7. Linger over your meal. Be selective; don’t bother eating a second bite of anything that isn’t fabulous. Appreciate the appearance and aromas and savor every bite.
  8. Stay tuned into your body language. You may be surprised to notice clear signals of satisfaction when you slow down and truly enjoy your food.
  9. Hint: When you find yourself compelled to take a picture of your lovely food, you’ll know you’ve fallen back in love!

Assuming your first date goes well, maybe you’ll decide to go Dancing with Yourself on your next date! (Or how about escaping with us for a fabulous 5 day retreat to build a strong, healthy relationship? Read more… )

 

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