Our Relationship with Food and Fear

I used to hate food. I loved the taste of it, but I would rather have not eaten it. I prayed for a way to live without having to eat. Those who attended the Mindfulness, Food, and Yoga class held at the studio in July know that this is because shared that I am an emetophobic, or have a phobia of vomiting. So when we’re having a meal together? Yeah, sorry, I’m not really listening to what you’re saying; I’m too busy worrying about whether this meal is going to make me sick later. I’m too busy listening to my inner monologue telling me that eating this meal, no matter how delicious, will never be worth the sickness that it may cause. So, if I didn’t get enjoyment out of that meal, what did I get? Anxiety, anger, and fear.

While emetophobia may be a new vocabulary word, I am going to make a wild assumption that some of you have had a similar relationship with your food. Instead of it making you sick, though, you may be afraid that eating a particular food may make you overweight or unhealthy. Or you may already be overweight or unhealthy and may worry about eating or food in general and see it as the enemy. So, can I ask how much you’re enjoying your food? Are you left feeling anxious, angry, and afraid, just like me?

When it comes down to it, food isn’t our enemy, but our ally. Food is here to keep us alive. We need to trust it—and ourselves–to do that. We need to respect it enough to allow it to do that. Because, guess what? The other feelings that we get from food, the anxiety, anger or fear in this example, don’t matter. That lettuce in your healthy salad couldn’t care less how you feel about eating it; it just wants to nourish you. Similarly, the ice cream doesn’t care if you’re mad at it for existing, seemingly only to make your waistline bigger than you’d like; it just wants to bring your taste buds joy. I think that if we’re willing to be mindful of this, and allow food to do its job – to nourish and satisfy us – we will find ourselves in a much happier, healthier place in our relationship with food.