Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, /eating her curds and whey; /along came a spider who sat down beside her; /and frightened Miss Muffet away.
No. I never met Miss Muffet. And what the hell is a tuffet?
Regardless, I imagine Patience Muffet (yes, I got the name on wickepedia) was a scrawny little thing, maybe about 5′ 4″, a meager 55 pounds; little wisp of a child, long spidery legs that stretched on forever, pixie-faced with a shock of nappy brown hair.
I find myself wondering what type of relationship Mr. Tuffet’s step-daughter must have had with food. I mean, it couldn’t have been a very healthy one after that arachnid episode.
…by age 12 she would have been declared malnourished by a dark-skinned East-Indian doctor at the local hospital, his accent so thick you had to cut it to get the english out. Oh . . . wait a minute, that was me!!!!!
But, no more beating around the bush. Let’s jump in and get right to the point. How do you develop a healthy food relationship?
You’re probably thinking I am the least qualified person to address this topic but I’ve been exploring, observing and being scrutinizingly attentive so I’m not clueless. Besides its all on the internet!
So, can we have a trumpet fanfare and drum-roll please.
Stage directions: town crier steps forward; makes a show of unfurling the gilded scroll.
‘Hear Ye! Hear Ye! I hereby pronounce six classifications of eaters.’
- doesn’t mind occasional company during meals but prefers to steer clear of the lunch-room ruckus. Privacy and the freedom of alone time to eat – very important.
- focus – inner thoughts (may or may not be related to the meal)
- menu – familiar and mess-less.
- provider of the doughnut breakfast, hump-day pot-luck and Friday Pizza-party.
- good food (actually any food) and good company go hand in hand.
- any meal time – cause for celebration;any celebration – worthy of food.
- unfamiliar foods add excitement – definitely worth a try.
- tradition reigns supreme – three square meals a day.
- what, where, how and when of meals – immutable.
- menu –traditional, rigid. No pancakes on the dinner table; definitely no pizza during Sunday Lunch.
- strays away from the idea of mealtimes; feelings of hunger rarely register – a constant snacker.
- meals – probably converted into an array of snacks.
- ‘to-go’ bags routinely requested at restaurants.
- finger-foods a staple.
- food and eating – rarely the focus of attention, merely an activity that happens while engaged in the really important stuff .
- meals – in front of the television, workstation, at meetings, reading the newspaper, even driving! You get the idea.
- menu – dominated by foods that can be eaten with an automatic hand-to-mouth action.
- sternly disciplined, rigorously simple and frugal.
- a true minimalist when it comes to eating.
- eats primarily to fuel the body, stringently sticking to the prescribed foods and portions set to achieve a specific goal – diet driven.
Thank heavens, not many people fit any category 100% of the time, so developing a healthy food relationship is really a practice of smart-switching (switching between categories when needed). The crux is awareness of the need to switch.
I figure, keeping 3 staple qualities in mind will help.
Staple #1 – Flexibility
There are going to be unexpected situations. There will be cravings. Cuh-dear, we’re only human. Extremely rigid food rules and eating routines don’t take that into consideration. Occasionally you gotta go with the flow.
Conventionalists, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with pancakes for dinner . . . once in a while. Its not going to kill you.
And Spartans, the extra-large slice of cheesecake that you accidentally took on purpose last week; no ‘kill-cow’ (big-deal). You don’t have to lambaste yourself every time you slip up.
As for you loners, make your way to the lunch room occasionally. Habitually eating alone is linked to a poorer diet, higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and being unhappy. I wonder why?
The bottom line – switch things up.
Staple #2 – Balance
Balance means more than a balanced diet.
Here’s a good time to clear something up. ‘Good foods’, ‘bad foods’ – don’t exist. Fats and carbohydrates are just as essential as protein and vegetables. Rachel at “The Real Life RD” does an excellent job of explaining.
The long and short, different foods serve different purposes and as my mother used to say “everything in moderation.”
(Here’s a word for you – Hyponatremia (confession, I had to search real hard to find that one). Water intoxication – drinking too much water too fast can be fatal! But isn’t drinking lots of water a good practice? “Too far east is west.” She said that too.)
You also need balance in your purpose for eating.
Eating should be as much for pleasure as for hunger.
Remember the Wednesday pot-luck? So what if you are not quite hungry. Loners, go in the name of good company and good food.
Staple #3 – Mindfulness
Mindfulness is all about paying full attention to your food.
“Mindful eating is about awareness. When you eat mindfully you slow down, pay attention to the food you are eating and savor every bite.”
Distracted eaters, whether distracted by the physical environment or inner thoughts, tend to eat too much, too fast, too frequently.
A healthy food relationship is one that is so comfortable and so instinctive that you barely think about it. So untroubled that you come to associate positive feelings and experiences with food. You can enjoy your food without feelings of guilt or regret. (Can I dare believe that is even possible???)
I have a long way to go but am working hard at improving. What about you?