“The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” — Carrie Bradshaw
Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw was only half right when she said the most challenging and significant relationship you have is with yourself. Men come and go, best friends sometimes become enemies, and jobs don’t always live up to their end of the bargain, but the relationship you have with what’s on your plate is constant and unavoidable.
Just as you can tell a lot about a woman by her choice in a romantic partner, what she eats, or doesn’t eat for that matter, is equally telling. A diet in which fried chicken, buffalo wings, and french fries are staples versus a diet of chicken breast, brown rice and veggies are not only reflected in the size of our waistlines, but also in our approach to life.
Juliet A. Boghossian, behavioral food expert and founder of the food behavior research firm Food-ology on her website writes, “How we act in and around food represents who we are – our character, our motivations, our strengths and fears – ultimately, how we think! and why we do the things we do.”
If you opt for convenience and taste over health, you’ll tend to go for the quick fix in life — the convenient but emotionally unavailable boyfriend, or the job that pays well but leaves you feeling like a corpse. How you do one thing is certain to spill over to other areas of your life.
Food is love, or can be promptly take its place when your seeming Prince Charming turns out to be just another frog looking for a come-up. As a woman in her her late thirties with a dating history that reads like a Danielle Steel and Stephen King mash-up novel , I have loved a lot.
I have loved so much that I have eaten an entire Entenmann’s chocolate fudge cake in one sitting. Then there was the kind of love that kept me up at night — and not in a good way. It started with shoveling sleeves of Oreo cookies down my throat at one o’clock in the morning and progressed into eating two and three plates of fried chicken and potato salad. I’d find myself exhausted and sick the morning after. Fifteen pounds later, this love hangover wasn’t budging and continued for nearly a year.
Given my family history of diabetes and high blood pressure my “food is love” philosophy was going to kill me. A week before my uncle’s 38th birthday, he died due to a massive heart attack. Three additional family members with already severed limbs had passed away from diabetes within a two-year span. It was time to make a change, and like every other woman who has found herself huddled in a corner, crying on the bathroom floor, I prayed.
For the record, this wasn’t my first time. I’ve had frequent conversations with God and murmured a prayer or two: “Thank you God for this food. Please watch over my family and friends. And God if you have a second to spare, can you make my ex mysteriously disappear? In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
This time, however, was different. I only had one request: to become the strongest version of myself and become the woman He would have me be. Six months later, I was logging 19 miles in one week on the track, lifting weights six days a week, and swapping out fried chicken and ribs for chicken breast, spinach and quinoa. During this time, I also began reading the Bible everyday. Instead of relying on nutrition or fitness experts for the latest trend, God became my coach and confidante.
In Philippians 1:29, the Bible states that to remain in the flesh, or to not practice physical discipline, only makes you more needy so I knew if I was going to transform my eating habits, I would have to be more disciplined in what I allowed myself to be around. Cakes, cookies, fried foods were no longer allowed in my apartment; and I temporarily cut out eating out at restaurants until I could strengthen my discipline. I even made my boyfriend at the time keep junk food in his car.
It took three months of consistent clean eating to get to the point where I wasn’t tempted to inhale a slab of ribs every time I went out to eat. Clean eating is by no means easy or convenient, but an act of self love and demonstration of your self worth. Every time, you choose a healthy salad over a hamburger and french fries; or decide to sweat out the pain instead of stuffing your emotions with cupcakes and Häagen-Dazs ice cream, your self love increases. As a result, you’ll start to demand more out of life and your relationships, including the one with yourself.
Your relationship with food shows up on your plate, in your bedroom, in your bank account and more importantly, on your body. Throughout your life, you’ll have more than one job and great love, however, you only get one body. If you don’t treat it like a temple, how can you expect anyone else to?
While my obsession for food hasn’t wavered, how I choose to express it has changed altogether. I use food to nourish rather than comfort and empower myself and others to be a woman of purpose regardless of marital or economic status. My “food is love” philosophy has now become “food is self-love.” For any woman who has ever doubted her self worth or believed she is anything less than powerful, I’d like to extend the invitation through this blog to commit to becoming the strongest version of yourself.