When food becomes a hobby
What is happening with food in our society? I find myself increasingly asking, myself and others whether food is a hobby. That moment when there is some spare time to fill, you cannot find your creative mind and you mindlessly walk to the kitchen and take some food out the fridge (or a spoonful of almond butter in my case!). When we did not have larders full of snacks and fridges bursting with the latest healthy product on the market, we might have read a book or listened to a radio show. Played the piano perhaps.
Or what about your favourite Sunday morning activity, a basket full of the freshest bread to dip in a still bubbling baked camembert. Your best loved box set and your partner. All savoured under a duvet with a glowing fire warming your toes.
Eating has become the hobby, tantalising our taste buds is now what we do to entertain ourselves. To combat boredom and fill spare time. Many people talk of being an ‘emotional eater’. This is a separate problem to address. There are many people who simply enjoy the taste of food. People that have forgotten the primitive purpose of food – to fuel the body, sustain us, give us the energy we need. As food becomes more accessible, faster, and tastier we spend more time sitting and need less fuel than we ever have.
There is sometimes a need to delve deep and find emotional connections to overeating but how about the simple reason that much of what we buy in the supermarket tastes good! It is well known that the work of many food and beverage brands is exploring what makes food palatable – not just palatable but delectable, scrumptious, cannot stop eating it tasty. When they find the exact combination of ingredients the product forms and is no doubt marketed with many health benefits.
I believe we must completely relook at our relationships with food. I once mentioned to a friend that a great love of mine is butter spread thickly on a slice of artisan bread. She asked me whether it is the butter that I really want. The saltiness combined with the creamy texture of quality butter. I think maybe she is right. I use the bread as a carrier. Whilst I will never dismiss the smell of freshly baked bread, the actual bread itself … well, much like a chip or a cracker, it is a carrier for a tastier piece of food.
When I explore this, I notice that of all the foods I choose to eat, the tasty food is the food that my body needs, whilst the carrier has nothing for me in a way of nutrition. This gives rise to the possibility that I can continue my hobby whilst benefiting my body. Say I switch the hummus topped Ryvita for crunchy carrot sticks dipped in hummus, or I have eggs and beans without the toast in the morning. When food tastes good most of us want more of it, regardless of emotion.
I am far from a perfect eater. I am a massive foodie and I wonder regularly why we eat too much and why we no longer eat to fuel ourselves but to satisfy our taste buds. I asked myself recently whether it is ok to correlate watching a film at the cinema with a big bag of sweets or box of sugary popcorn. Is it ok that I view this as a treat? I wonder if it really is a treat. I thought about whether the film brings enough joy on its own without the sugary accompaniments. If not, maybe I should explore that and consider whether there is a better use of my time that would bring me enough pleasure without a need to boost it.
There are many things in life that fill my cup, for example sitting in front of the fire with a book I enjoy or walking in nature with my family. I am going to try and use the creative part of my brain whenever I have spare time to fill it with something that may take a little more effort than walking to the fridge. If I choose an activity and need to enhance it with food, I am going to find something else that brings enough pleasure. Failing that I am going to find a good hypnotherapist!
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