You know that feeling when you’re really mad, upset or sad about something, and you just can’t stop ruminating over it and/or blaming yourself or others for messing up?
That’s the exact opposite of what it looks like to make peace with food.
A lot of Intuitive Eating practitioners (myself included) talk about helping people “make peace with food”, but what exactly does that mean?
I would describe it with three letters: N.B.D.
To me, food peace is the point where food becomes no big deal. Before you start arguing with me, I get that food is a pretty big deal – it’s so much more than fuel and nutrients – it’s culture, connection, comfort, science, art, the list goes on. What I mean is, making peace with food is the point where food isn’t emotionally a big deal. When you have a peaceful, positive relationship with food, it’s no big deal whether you eat something, or not eat something. It’s no big deal whether you eat a lot or eat a little. Food is just food, eating is just eating, and you can spend your time and energy on more important things in your life.Food peace is the point where food isn't emotionally a big deal. Click To Tweet
Our Current Relationship with Food is… Complicated
For many of us, food isn’t NBD – we feel bad or guilty when we eat chips or chocolate cake, and proud when we eat kale or charcoal lemonade. People who eat less are held in high regard for their restraint, while people who eat more are told that they lack control and don’t take care of themselves.
It’s not just the diet industry – even documentaries *cough*What The Health*cough*, news reports and public health campaigns seem hell-bent on making food a BIG DEAL. Every day, we’re bombarded with messages that basically boil down to the idea that we’re killing ourselves when we eat the “wrong” foods, and can only save ourselves when we eat the “right” ones.
The truth is, food is just one of the many, many factors that influence our health and well-being. The reason why nutrition seems so complicating is that we’re trying to portray something that’s not black-and-white as black-and-white. There is no single, “perfect” eating pattern, yet so many of us have spent so much time and energy striving for something that doesn’t exist that the stress of that has had more of a negative impact on our health than eating all the “bad” food in the world (when we finally decide what that is) ever will.
Food Peace is the Destination, Not the Journey
That being said, making peace with food takes time. It’s not like a switch where one moment you have strong thoughts and feelings around food, and the next it’s NBD.
Just like a friendship or a romantic relationship, nurturing a healthy relationship with food takes time and is an imperfect, neverending journey. At the beginning, it’s normal to feel nervous or fearful, as you might be eating foods or eating in ways that you haven’t allowed yourself to in a long time, similar to how you’re not always 100% yourself when you’re around someone new. Over time, you will become more familiar and comfortable, but you’ll slip up and make mistakes as well. Eventually, food becomes like a long-term partner or an old friend that you can rely on – you’re happy to be around them, but you don’t get those same butterflies that you did in the beginning anymore, and you still need to put in a little effort to keep the spark going.