It has been a long week; a very different week for most of us. Schedules have changed. Leaving the house isn’t an option. The things that normally keep us sane we may not be able to do. For some of us this could be a chance to get some much needed sleep, get caught up on a television series, catch up on video chat with some friends, do some spring cleaning or whatever it is that we haven’t done around the house because we were too busy, but for others being at home can bring on its own set of anxieties especially around food.
Suddenly the day doesn’t revolve around going to work, working and coming home. Working from home, the hours can start to blend together, the anxiety can start to creep in, and with the inability to leave the house one of the easiest ways to cope with the impeding uncertainty, anxiety and boredom is with food. It is the perfect distraction – something you have to do anyways at some point in the day– an excuse to not think about what is going on. It is an easy thing to do to reach for a snack when we are feeling overwhelmed or bored or when we just don’t know what to do with ourselves.
Eating and emotions are VERY closely tied in our society. The first thing to remember is THAT IS OKAY. It is okay that we have created a society where our emotions and food and hunger are all intertwined. This was not something that we consciously chose to participate in, but that we were drawn into as a collective whole. It is an underlying construct in our society the same way that the expectations of what women and what men do is. It takes awareness of these unconscious processes for us to be able to change them and it takes a village, a collective shift among what the role of food in our society is.
We are starting to see this shift in the world of gender over the last couple of years. Women are drawing attention to the unconscious biases and expectations that surround their role in society – they are bringing forward the expectations that we didn’t even know we as a society had – the ones that are so unconscious that they just seem like facts. Drawing awareness to these unconscious expectations is the first step in creating change. How can we change something that we aren’t even aware exists?
This concept is the same thing that needs to happen with our collective relationship with food. The first thing is understanding how you view food and how you interact with it as an individual and why you feel this way. Does it feel like this is how it is supposed to be based on our social interactions and collective understanding of what food is?
Instead of feeling the anxiety of what is going on in the world, or your life or your mind – food and eating or not eating can bring up its own set of anxieties, often unrelated to what is happening in the external world. Food and our relationship with it can serve as a reflection of what is happening inside of us. With us being able to engage in very little outside of our homes right now, this relationship with food and our internal world can feel very amplified. That doesn’t mean that anything has changed, or that things are getting worse – what it means is that you are paying more attention to it. The distractions outside of this have fallen away and the bare bones of your food reality is staring you right in the face every moment of every day. That begs the question.
What do we do now?
What we do is we start to pay attention. We start to pay attention to how we interact with food. We don’t need to change anything, we don’t need to judge ourselves, we don’t need to beat ourselves up – we just need to pay attention. Pay attention so that we can try and understand why we interact with food the way that we do. That is all we need to do for now. Once that awareness is there, that is when we can start to shift. That is when we can start to see food for what it really is – nourishment – and start to see what is really happening inside of us.
This is not easy – it is scary, because whether we mean to or not we have created a space where our interactions with food, our obsession with it, it is a comfort from what else is happening. Deep breathes. This can be scary. This can be anxiety inducing. You are not alone. Support is always here. Be gentle with yourself. We need food to survive – but why do you need food right? Beyond physical survival – what else do you need it for? That is the place to start – with the gentle questions – no judgement, no repercussions – just curiosity – why do you need food?