If You Love To Eat, Act Like It!

By Michelle May, M.D.

May family dinner in AlaskaThis was our first summer without any kids at home. We hadn’t seen Tyler, 24, for over five months since he moved to Chicago for his first job, or Elyse, 21, who had been doing a summer internship at the Alaska SeaLife Center. We decided to meet in Alaska for a family vacation so I’d been anticipating this reunion for months!

The moment we saw them, I gave them each a peck on the cheek and turned on the TV. They had a lot to tell me but it seemed to be taking too long so I hurried them along. Tyler was telling a funny story about one of his dates but I missed most of it because I was surfing the Internet on my phone. Elyse brought up some memories of our last trip to Alaska but I didn’t take any notice. Everyone was tired and wanted to go to bed but since we hadn’t been together for a while, I insisted we stay up all night talking. Of course the next day, we all felt crappy. I really wanted to hang out with them some more but that would have been too indulgent after being with them all night, so I sent them on their way while I stayed in the hotel room.

mindless-eatingHopefully by now you’ve realized that I’ve been messing with you! It would be absurd to treat the people we love this way. But do you ever behave this way with food?

Perhaps you’re really looking forward to a favorite food, a special meal, or just dinner. The moment you have it in front of you, you take the first bite then quickly turn your attention to the TV. Although you really love this particular food, you eat fast as though you can’t wait to get it over with. You miss the enjoyment you’ve been anticipating because you’re distracted by your phone or something else. You aren’t likely to notice the memories and associations you have with the food, and how it affects your eating right now. And then you eat way too much, forgetting that you’ll get to eat again tomorrow, so you feel physically and emotionally bad afterward. To punish yourself for overdoing it, you deprive yourself of food the next day to make up for it.

That sounds absurd too, doesn’t it!

At Am I Hungry?, we often talk about developing a healthy relationship with food. Yes, you have a relationship with food, just as you have relationships with the people in your life. When we are distracted, disconnected, and dismissive, discontent and dysfunction ensue. For your relationships—with people and with food—to be healthy, it’s important to nurture them and give them the attention they deserve. If you love to eat, act like it!

 

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