The Food-Soul Link and Why It Sucks…

A very secure kitty, snuggled on my lap in a “blanket sandwich”

So, Jenna posted a blog today where she asked readers to comment regarding their favorite food memories.  And, what I intended to be a fun little jaunt down memory lane ended up being a full-on, sobbing, snot-running, cry-fest on the way home from work.  But, my thanks to you, Jenna, because it also resulted in an emotional breakthrough on a larger level.

So…”transparency alert” here…proceed at your own risk:

Food has the power both to heal and to kill.  It can soothe our emotions, but at the same time can destroy our bodies.  Thinking about my happiest food memory is hard for me.  Feelings of nostalgia are tempered by shame because my best food memories don’t seem “good enough.”  They aren’t memories of eating healthy food.  Actually, they’re seldom about food at all.  White rice and squeeze butter.  Cut-up hotdogs with ketchup.  Those are my favorite food memories.  They’re not healthy.  They’re processed, and they’re boring.

But they remind me of weeknights when my mom had to work and it would just be my dad and me.  And I would usually eat something like that, and then we’d watch USA Cartoon Express and then Airwolf.  To this day, I still love cut-up hotdogs and rice.

For me, the food-soul connection is a real battle.  Birthday cake reminds me of countless shared cakes between my dad and me (because his birthday is ten days before mine).  Boxed macaroni and powdered cheese reminds me of Mom’s go-to dish that she knew would make me happy.  A HUGE round slice of watermelon and a grapefruit spoon reminds me of summer afternoons as a kid, eating and spitting seeds into the plate.  Mom always likes to have the watermelon “butts” 🙂

The common thread among these memories is security.  There’s very little that’s more secure than being a kid in the home of two loving parents and knowing that you’ll be taken care of no matter what.  And that security is gone–replaced by work, bills, an unstable economy, a husband in grad school, and the knowledge that I’m now responsible for my own well-being.  And I’m doing a piss-poor job taking care of my own well-being.   Thus, food and tv become my security.  And eight years of seeking security through food takes its toll.

I don’t have the answers on this one, honestly.  Just writing about this brings me to tears.  Looking at food as a source of security is unhealthy and dangerous, but I haven’t yet discovered what healthy things/practices can fill that void.  I’m open to suggestions, though.  What does it for you?


2 thoughts on “The Food-Soul Link and Why It Sucks…

  1. I think it’s totally normal to associate food with special events, particularly happy family ones. Food and eating are so enmeshed in our society and lives, it’s hard not to do this. I also think this is a totally okay thing to do, as long as you’re not relying on the food for these feelings all the time. It can definitely be tricky!

    1. I think that’s much of my problem…I rely on the food for the feeling since I can’t seem to find it elsewhere right now, you know? So, my task is in finding more constructive ways to pursue and obtain that feeling of security. I agree; food and eating are enmeshed in our culture…they are in many cultures. Cultural food rituals are really interesting! Thanks for the comment!

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