Put your finger on your pause button, because you may need it for this one.
This is one of the subjects we have avoided discussing casually on Facebook because we feel so strongly about it, and we knew it would become emotionally charged. But, we invite you to try on a new idea for a few minutes, and see if you can make it fit.
Food has nothing to do with life celebrations.
Nothing. Period. Grab a pen and paper and plan out your next holiday celebration without food. List experiences other than eating at the center of the vision. What will the place smell like? What will it look like? What will you do? Who will be there? How much laughter will there be? What? Sober laughter? YES! If you’re not slaving over a stove, what will your time be spent on instead? What memories can you create without food? (Bonus: the next day, when everyone steps on the scale, they won’t regret the festivities.) Tell your family to eat before they come over. Tell them to plan on fun, family times. Talk about a paradigm shift, without a clutch, eh? Sit in the thought for a few minutes and consider the idea.
Billie’s family bought a cabin on the lake last year, and the first words out of her girls’ mouths were “YAY! S’mores at the lake!” Her husband said, “Can’t wait for the BBQ and cold beer on the dock.” Billie was pretty new to this new reality of separating food and life experiences, but she was committed to getting the family on board with her.
To be clear, s’mores happen, but it’s no longer THE reason they go to the cabin. It’s no longer the first thing they think of. It no longer holds most of their attention. Now it’s about family, sun, laughter, music, good books and splashing in the water. Yes, they eat when they’re hungry and drink when they’re thirsty. Typically they eat grilled veggies and drink sparkling water. Sometimes it even includes a few beers.
What’s it all really about, anyway?
Is Christmas about Jesus, or fruitcake? And Easter; is it about Christ or jellybeans and hardboiled eggs? Thanksgiving; family and gratitude or turkey? The problem with letting these celebrations have anything to do with food is that we always have a “reason” to eat something. The stories we tell ourselves about what we must consume and when, never end. We pretend that it’s about the holidays, but that’s not the truth. What about the platter of goodies the neighbor made for us, and we don’t want to be rude and say “no thank you,” so we eat their cookies. Or the fact that it’s Friday night and you’ve had a hard week? It’s ALL stories we tell ourselves. Stories that keep us chained to food and drink at nearly all times.
There will never be another birthday cake in our homes (Gasp! Talk about emotionally charged subject matter! Birthday cake is SO engrained in our minds as a MUST for birthday celebrations that some may find this borderline child abuse). This is not to say that we won’t ever eat cake. It just has nothing to do with celebrating another healthy year of life. Birthdays are about the person.
Billie’s mother-in-law lives with a feeding tube. She’s never told her this, but she brought Billie more determination and focus in this area than anything else. Billie thought, “Geeze, if Mom can handle these family events without partaking in the food and beverage and still enjoy the company of those she loves, then I can, too!”
Don’t get us wrong. We like food just as much as the next person.
Though what we like has changed dramatically. The bottom line is: if we choose something that isn’t in alignment with our healthful way of living, we will have it on occasion and with intention. It’s never because we became weak in a moment that we didn’t plan for. And it’s never twice in a row.
Some friends of ours were expecting their first baby last year, and attended a new parents series of classes to learn the basics. In one of the modules, the instructor mentioned that around six months, when baby starts to eat solid food, it’s important to let someone else feed them from time to time so they can start becoming “socialized.” Seriously?! It’s at SIX months that we start confusing our little ones with the blending of food and socializing? What are we doing? If your big picture, conspiracy theories are kicking in, you’re not alone.
Food should be eaten with intention.
When you are hungry, when your body needs fuel, and not on a predetermined schedule or because you may hurt someone’s feelings when you graciously pass on eating what they are dishing out (no matter how thoughtful or kind or gracious), or because it’s your birthday, baby, and the celebration must be centered around the cake. Food is fuel. Entertaining our mouths is contributing to the highest rates of obesity since the beginning of time and this shift promises to shorten the life expectancy for our children and future generations. We don’t know about you, but nothing we have ever eaten has been worth sending our families, our children, down that path.
Give your body a break. It will thank you.