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Stop Focusing on Food

  • Eating

You know the old question: Do you live to eat or eat to live? Well, no surprise which attitude is held by “normal” eaters. If you’re highly food centered—even as a restrictive eater, controlling your intake while obsessing about it—it’s difficult to develop a positive relationship with food. The goal is to enjoy it, without food itself or thoughts of it becoming the focus of your life.

Naturally, most people have favorite foods and restaurants—the Chicken Kiev at the new place in town, the crusty, whole wheat bread at the café down the street, the caramel fudge at the candy store at the mall, or the super creamy cheesecake at the bakery. We all have different cravings and special foods that satisfy them. Enjoying delicious food can be a real treat and enormously satisfying and memorable. Although food originally tasted good so that we’d eat it to survive, over the millennia, taste has been enhanced so that food meeting taste buds is now an event in itself.

The problem arises when you’re so focused on food that your life revolves around it. Heading for dinner with an acquaintance, you’re less excited about possibly making a new friend, than about the Tiramisu you already know you have to have for dessert. Or you’re meeting an old chum who’s in town for the day at your favorite brunch spot, and find yourself thinking more about the waffles in syrup than how wonderful it will be catching up with her. If your brain lights up occasionally thinking about certain foods, that’s healthy. If you find that every day you’re looking forward to food more than what seems natural, you need to reprogram your brain.

There’s a fine line between enjoying and anticipating food pleasurably, and putting your energy into it 24/7. Most “normal” eaters could tell you their favorite foods, but don’t think much about them. If obsessing about food or overdoing to get it is something you do regularly—Gee, honey, let’s go to Target, though it’s hailing like crazy out there, cause I seem to recall that the diner next door has those out-of-this-world fries—it may mean that there aren’t enough other things in life to ring your chimes.

Over-focusing on food is often symptomatic of boredom, routine, and a kind of ennui. So, when you feel your mind drifting toward food when you’re not hungry, remind yourself that it should not be the center of the universe. It has a wonderful place in life, but should not become your life. Instead of obsessing about eating, reflect on other ways to bring passion to your little world, then go out and make it happen.