More Than Just a Meal

Relationship_with_Unhealthy_Food

Eating patterns and relationships with food are usually developed at a very young age. Developing an understanding of this relationship can aid anyone, with or without an eating disorder.

 

More Than Just a Meal


Developing an intimate understanding of ones relationship with food is an essential part of most eating disorder recovery programs. Becoming aware of how food has been used in the family of origin and how mealtimes were conducted is useful in understanding what food has come to represent. However, whilst the vast majority of people in the Western World have come to associate food with more than its mere primary function of alleviating hunger by the time they reach adulthood, coming to understand our relationship with food, might be of use to everyone.

The inexorable link between the role of food in childhood and adulthood has long been acknowledged. Most agree that eating patterns are established at a very young age. Whether or not you suffer from an eating disorder you may see a link between how food was used in your childhood to how you use food today. You might recognize the impulse to offer your child a snack in order to appease them, or to use snacks as a symbol of reward.


According to a recent study, conducted by the British weight loss group, Slimming World, adults who feed children in this way are unwittingly doing their children a disservice. According to this study, the long term consequences of such continued behavior far outweighs the short term gains of for instance a quieter child. According to the YouGov study, such behavior not only teaches the child to use food as a means to meet an emotional need, but also increases the likelihood of poor diets, low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to developing an eating disorder in adulthood.

It has been suggested that a likely contributor to the obesity epidemic of the Western World is the much used high fructose corn syrup, found in most fizzy drinks, sugary and high calorie snacks, most of which is offered to children. Interestingly, a recent study showed that consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused more weight gain in lab animals than did table sugar when both sweeteners were consumed in equal quantity. What is more, long term consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused abnormal increases in body fat, in particular in the abdomen region.

While the reasons for these findings are yet to be firmly established, these findings might to some extent explain the increase in obesity in the UK. It is worth noting that high fructose corn syrup is found in most daily foods, such as breads, breakfast cereals, ketchup, and mayonnaise. While it is recommended that the average Briton consume no more than 40 grams of added sugars on a daily basis, studies show that we consume close to three time that.

It goes without saying that everything can be enjoyed in moderation. Unlike addictions to other substances, addiction to food can never be overcome by mere abstinence. Discovering ways to meet emotional needs in constructive ways is an essential part of addiction recovery. As the foundation for our eating patterns in adulthood is established in early childhood, it might be of value for everyone to ponder what some of us might inadvertently be teaching our children.

The invitation is to be mindful of how food is used in your household and what it has come to represent? Keeping a food journal, noting down what you eat and how you feel before, during, and after, can be a useful way to come to understand your relationship with food.


It goes without saying that everything can be enjoyed in moderation. Unlike addictions to other substances, addiction to food can never be overcome by mere abstinence. Discovering ways to meet emotional needs in constructive ways is an essential part of addiction recovery. As the foundation for our eating patterns in adulthood is established in early childhood, it might be of value for everyone to ponder what some of us might inadvertently be teaching our children.

The invitation is to be mindful of how food is used in your household and what it has come to represent? Keeping a food journal, noting down what you eat and how you feel before, during, and after, can be a useful way to come to understand your relationship with food.

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