Speaking to a loved one can be a huge hurdle to overcome in building a neutral relationship with food but it can be incredibly valuable. Once we have done the work of untangling our food stories, unpicked why we eat the way we do and why we treat particular food negatively or positively, opening up to someone close to us can make us feel a lot less alone. It can also help us further understand the complex patterns and walls we have created subconciously in our minds.
We often don't realise that the Food Police in our minds, are the same Food Police in our loved one's minds, they may be accussing them of a different "crime" but it generally follows the same set of rules. Taking the time to sit down and talk about the things that have come to light during your self-development with eating, not only benefits you but the person you are speaking to. Both of you will come away knowing that neither of you is alone.
You will feel lighter for having shared a realisation that was absolutely huge for you, you may even begin to see it for what it really is: a story. I'm not devaluing your experience up until now at all, what you have felt and experienced has made you exactly who you are, but when we say something out loud, it suddently loses that tight grip it has upon us, it isn't quite as scary and monstrous as it seemed in our mind. Our loved one will be able to understand us that little bit more, being open and vulnerable is really scary but letting those we love in, giving them the opportunity to understand why we act the way that we do, really is a game changer.
Take something like secret eating, I developed a habit of nibbling on something as soon as I was alone, maybe a family member or my partner at the time had popped to the shop, or even outside to hang out the washing. Through plenty of journaling I realised that this habit stems from my childhood, like many children I wasn't allowed to just help myself from the kitchen cupboards. My mum liked to know exactly what food was in and what she needed to buy from the shops. Also, we'd have eaten her out of house and home if we'd have been allowed to help ourselves whenever we fancied - which was all the time. So I'd wait until my Mum was on the phone to my aunt or hanging out the washing and I'd quickly dash/tiptoe into the kitchen. My heart would race, I'd already feel excited about eating something yummy, secretly without anyone knowing before it touched my lips. Sometimes I'd have time to eat a Penguin biscuit, other times it was just dripping my finger into the sugar bowl. Pretty harmless as a child but this habit grew, it evolved and I carried it with me into adult hood.
During my early twenties I'd "treat" myself to something on my way home from work - a packet of biscuits, a big bar of chocolate. It wasn't really a "treat" though because it was laced with guilt. I never told anyone about it, I'd hide the wrappers in my coat pocket and pop them in the outside bin on my walk from the car to my front door. I didn't want anyone to know about this guilty little secret. When I opened up to my partner about this he wasn't shocked, he didn't think I was a terrible human being. He understood why I did it. That simple act of opening up to someone made my heart race even more than it used to on the way to the biscuit cupboard. My palms were clammy and I was pretty much on the verge of tears because I felt ashamed. Ashamed for unknowningly carrying on a habit I had developed during childhood. Said outloud it didn't seem so big, it wasn't such a huge thing anymore. There was no longer a secret and so I no longer wanted to continue doing it. Just like that, it lost its gleaming, sparkly edge of secret fun - much like a secret relationship does once someone finds out.
My partner also shared some of his eating habits and beliefs around food, as we spoke well into the early hours of the morning, we traced back some of his feelings and judgement towards certain food types. Each sharing things we had long forgotten we once believed, had once been told and continued to carry on into our adult lives. Life is hard enough as it is, we really don't need to go it alone. If you don't feel ready to share your experience with a loved one just yet but would like to share it with someone, I am always here at the end of this email. Just click reply. I promise I won't judge, I won't have anything but lots of love, patience and understanding for you. I won't try to sell you anything or ask if you'd like coaching. I'll listen, Katie Cat may listen to, and together we'll send lots of love back. I'll probably share my own anecdotes with you and above all make sure you know that you really, truly are not alone.
This post first appeared in my Thursday letter Nourishing Soulfully, if you’d like to receive this letter please pop your email below. Each Thursday I send out a letter via email with a piece like the one you just read, a recipe with ingredients such as something to read, something to listen to, something to do and something to watch. I sometimes include any news or projects I’m working on and there’s usually a cat picture or two too.