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It’s Just Food – Taking the Emotions out of Eating

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It's Just Food || Homemade Dutch Apple PieIf you’ve been a reader here very long you know that I’ve tried just about every “diet” possible. I went from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to real food. I’ve been low fat, high fat, low carb, high carb, grain free, gluten free, nut free, dairy free, egg free…just about everything you can think of.

It took a lot of trial and error, but I finally realized that I don’t have to follow any prescribed diets. I need to eat in a way that keeps my body nourished and makes me feel good.  What that entails is a little different for everyone.

I am still a firm believer in eating a real food diet with lots of traditional foods. We also have food allergies in our house that we have to take into account. Those two factors combined give us a guide for how we eat.

Going on this long journey of figuring out how to eat created quite an obsession with food.  There  have been times that I couldn’t think about much else. I would get so stressed about choosing the “right” food that it didn’t even matter what I was actually eating because the anxiety outweighed any benefits of whatever I chose.

I used to hate eating with other people because I felt so isolated by food restrictions.

Now I have to watch my kids say no to things a lot. When they are offered some sort of “treat” it is tough to say no. It’s hard to feel different or left out. I get anxiety trying to make the right choices for my kids and know when to stick to my “rules” and when to just let it go.

There is a lot of emotion tied to eating, especially when it comes to community and events.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about going to a baseball game? Eating a hot dog.

What is a fun summer treat? Ice cream from an ice cream stand or the ice cream truck.

Now with fall activities in full swing kids are bombarded with offers of treats and snacks wherever they go.

For some people it’s hard to enjoy events without the traditional food involved. It tugs at your emotions. You have fond memories of doing these things as a child. It’s part of the experience.

I’ve been there. I’ve felt it. I feel it every time my child gets invited to a birthday party or we go to someone’s house or we go to an event. But I have finally come to a place where I realize one thing:

It’s Just Food.

That’s all. Food.

Now I choose to focus my attention on the experience and relationships.It's Just Food || Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

We have to bring food with us no matter where we go. But I have yet to see my kids go hungry or feel like they were unhappy or dissatisfied after eating. I love to see the contentment on their faces as they enjoy whatever they are given and run off to have fun without putting any thought into it.

When my family goes to a baseball game we either eat before we go or I bring most of our food. Do my kids care? Not at all. They simply want to have fun at the game. They don’t care if their hot dog came from home or from the concession stand. To be honest they don’t even care about eating much at all. They are fascinated by what’s going on around them. It’s harder for Mom and Dad to separate the experience from the food.

When my daughter goes to dance class she doesn’t need a sucker at the end to feel like she did a good job or to make her enjoyment of dance any different. It’s not about the food.

So, how do you get to this point? Here are a few tips:

  1. Take the emotions out.
  2. Relax – look at the big picture if  you are feeling stressed about a situation and remember it’s just food. You probably won’t remember if you got to eat a piece of cake at a party. But you will remember how much fun you had with your family or friends.
  3. Make new memories that don’t revolve around food. If you go to an amusement park, focus on the rides and excitement. If you go to a sporting event, focus on the game and the atmosphere. If you are going to church or school, focus on what you are learning and building friendships.
  4. Keep it simple – enjoying an apple at the zoo is just as good as having an ice cream cone. Food doesn’t have to be complicated.
  5. Set a good example for your children – if you don’t make a big deal about food, eating differently or restrictions your kids won’t think much of it either.

Food does not have to be the center of everything.  Instead focus on what really matters. Take the stress out of eating. Simply eat what works for you, be thankful for it and enjoy it.

It does take work and thought to eat well. But beyond that remember that it’s just food. Relax. Enjoy what works for you. And enjoy life.

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