Where did your relationship with food come from?

mindset Feb 26, 2020


Not happy with your relationship with food? Some of it is chemical. Sugary snacks and high carb meals mean you'll crave more of the same. This kind of need for certain types of food accounts for 75% of what you eat, according to experts. The rest? Well, it's up for grabs.

Regular readers of this blog may already have seen the article on habits. Today I'm talking where on earth your relationship with food came from. How you relate to food is rooted in behaviour from childhood around food and how you learned 'the way things are'. 

Food is for nourishment and it also frequently forms part of a social engagement (going out for dinner, dinner parties and so on).  If you use food for any other purpose, chances are you have a dysfunctional relationship with it.  Just like in any other relationship, the one you have with food develops over time and many things will impact it. 

To make real and lasting changes, it’s useful to explore what happened in relation to food and eating as you grew up. People learn to use food from a very early age - and then rarely challenge the associations they made when they’re an adult.

Hilde Bruch, an American-German psychoanalyst specialising in eating disorders, suggests that the confusion starts during infancy when children tend to be fed when they are distressed as well as when they are hungry.  So, from very early on, you may start to lose the ability to differentiate between actually being hungry and having other emotional needs.

Family mealtimes are also an important part of developing healthy self-esteem, social skills and the relationship you have with food. 

Think back to when you were a child.  What were your mealtimes like?  What were your parents’ attitudes to weight, food and dieting? What was the dominant emotion at your dinner table?

  • My mother worried about her weight/ dieted when I was young
  • I wasn’t able to speak my views during mealtime
  • I remember thinking about my weight when I was young
  • My family linked attractiveness to weight
  • I did not look forward to mealtimes
  • My parents forced me to eat foods I did not like
  • There was yelling/arguing during dinner
  • I remember feeling nervous during dinner
  • I was told not to waste food (starving children in Africa and such like).

If any of those resonated with you, consider those experiences created an association between food and that emotion.  And those emotions are carried through into adult life. The good news is they are not the ‘truth’. They are opinions, thoughts and feelings. Phew.  


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