The relationship one has with food is a deeply personal experience. Call me melodramatic, but my relationship with food is way more important to me than my relationship with almost any person.
It’s a pretty intimate relationship, actually. Food is sustenance and purely there to fuel our bodies, but most of us spend several hours a day either eating, or considering what to eat. Food is intrinsically linked to our psychology and emotions.
For some of us it has become the answer to all our problems. Going through a bad time? Ice-cream. Want to do something sweet for someone? Chocolates. It’s become consuming.
Our relationship with food is linked with our mind: the way in which we deal with food effects our every waking thought. Any one person reading who is mildly fussy, or has dealt with an eating disorder will understand the agonising pain of eating in public, or with friends. Food has always been a frenemy to me.
It’s important to overemphasize that my weight isn’t important to me. My health is: I’m a size 14 who works out 3 times a week. I’m okay with my back fat, and I’m okay with not being able to run a marathon. I’m not okay that my diet consists of 8 different ingredients.
I’m not okay with the way people react to this.
It’s easy to tell someone they will grow out of their childhood habits (in my case, throwing up any food that isn’t potato-based), and it’s easy to roll your eyes when someone orders their particularly awkward meal. I get that it’s difficult to understand a way of life that you aren’t used to, but reserve some humanity for the girl ordering their plain double cheeseburger, have a little faith in the kid who only eats jam sandwiches, and realise that this is not a chosen way of life.
The best way to help someone whose relationship with food isn’t excellent is to try and understand, and show a little compassion. Suggest mild alterations on their current diet and don’t judge them for not trying them straight away.
It’s going to be a difficult to make a meal for someone who enjoys frozen kebab meat and chips rather than a chicken and leak pie with celeriac mash, but you’d be surprised how much it means when someone takes your requirements to heart.
Image by Flickr user AtomicShark