Our Relationship to “Resolutions”
If the past year has taught anything, it’s that consistency of healthy habits will always be challenged for one reason or another. Sticking to new habits becomes a common core focus for a lot of people during the beginning of year, so it’s worth mentioning. As many of us discovered, needing more time at home was not the solution we thought we needed to get that together! Diligence has never taught us what some of us have learned from asking for more consistent compassion after the turmoil and loss that occurred 2020, and beginning of 2021.
Among so many crises on display, the widespread consequences that dieting has had across our lives is more clear than ever. With collective trauma exhaustion setting in, compassion is critical in balancing our emotional and physical relationships to food. It’s necessary to nurture all areas of fuel if we cannot have social and emotional fuel in the ways we had before covid. Food & our associations to it is 100% apart of that equation.
For me, switching up my career focus with nutrition and focusing more on creating things, I needed to figure out what my relationship to food meant to me. I asked myself many times, how can I best help people wade through their wellness goals with everything going on and also work through my own mental health/dietary struggles? After a few years of being a nutritionist, one year after discovering I had synesthesia responses to taste, smell, sound and emotion, and several months of isolation, I began to feel my perspective shift dramatically when considering how others might feel about food as emotional fuel right now.
What does it mean that I can connect to food and my body in ways other people can’t? People often approach me for advice with a heavy heart and careful level of uncertainty. After all, the subject of our personal habits and health status is a sensitive one and it is difficult to know how to bring our needs to others when searching for the right kind of help.
I know how quickly we can learn about what the body really needs to feel healthy regardless of how well we know our bodies, I’ve seen plenty of people succeed with it. I thought I knew my needs really well, but I was still figuring out life changing things when I started paying enough of the right kind of attention to myself. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my own 2020 experience, it’s that our relationships to food is an entire network of experiences woven through almost every moment of every day in our lives. We can’t ignore any of it. It shocked me to think back to the destruction that the dieting industry has had on my own body and evokes compassion for everyone else swept along the tide with me, still struggling to get out.
While weight loss is still an important and valid goal for some, people are having more conversations about the emotional consequences of disordered / restrictive eating from dieting and the impacts on diet from unrelated emotional distress (so, all of 2020). Many people will go on a diet as a means of control when what they really need in their life falls more in the category is basic human needs and stability.
Did you know that regardless of what your goal is, it is perfectly normal for your body to respond to change in life with a change in appetite or function?
Or were you fooled like me into thinking you could just control that part of yourself?
Not all bodies work the same so how does that change our relationship to resolutions at the beginning of the year? The control mindset is based off of control, however control is rarely achieved when ignoring the facts. In this case, it is that our bodies call the shots, not our intentions and we must learn listen.
In 2020, Our Relationship to Food Changed
The lessons I’ve learned in 2020 have changed my relationship to food completely and if there’s one thing I want others to learn from me, it’s that the commitment to your relationships with your body and food is fluid and at the mercy of so many life factors. Diligence is only part of the equation but not the common variable.
Balance is only achieved when you know yourself and connect with your humanness. Forcing habits or convincing myself to ignore my body’s internal messages never yielded the same powerful results as mindful strategizing and thoughtful decision making have.
As the diet industry shifts, many people are also waking up to how deeply culture, heritage, racism, and cross generational trauma weigh in on our emotions, our physical sense of health and our intimate relationships with food. These dynamics (especially when injustice, inaccessibility, harm and violence have taken place) alongside understanding the stabilizing functions of our bodies can give us almost every piece of information left unanswered from most diet plans.
There are few things in life that we do quite as often as we eat and drink so it is important to approach dietary habits with a balanced mindset. In order to exist in a balanced state of health, all areas connected must be taken into account. When we think about the vast network of our relationship to food, we see that it’s important to also consistently consider seasonal changes, accessibility, finances, taste preferences, safety, etc… It is woven into every fiber of life across our entire planet. So why do we put so much focus on productivity or the shape / size of our bodies?
In 2020, many of us had a different relationship with food when we had to re-strategize how we go about getting groceries. We will never forget the great toilet paper shortage! Accessibility has changed a few times over the course of the past several months. Finances changed. Businesses changes. Safety changed. Skills & habits changed. Our collective perspective and relationship to how food exists in our lives changed completely. It’s time to stay accountable with ourselves, community and people that contribute to our wellbeing (aka- businesses).
After 2020, I am wondering, What areas do you feel balance is most disconnected when it comes to food in your world?
How My Relationship with Food Changed in 2020
One of the most important elements in this network between food and our bodies is our bio-chemical feedback responses when food connects with emotion controlling neurons in our brain. The network between our neurons connects with the food we consume in a variety of ways. It dives deep into our relationships with health, starting with the moment we smell something or taste something. We can experience any number of (sometimes random) elements of life like nostalgia, re-lived trauma, shame, or relaxation.
In fact, food and the sensory experience of deliciousness is a special kind of emotional fuel we don’t get in many places in our life. Especially when we haven’t been able to see and hug our people for a long time, it’s important to have an outlet for happiness and remembering good times.
During my year of isolation, I spent a lot of time remembering the smell of places I’ve missed when looking at old photos, the taste of food I’ve eaten that I wish I could order again at a table… and I remembered the smells of homes and restaurants from cherished memories with loved ones when I heard certain songs. The ability to reach out to nostalgia so closely during a period of solitude made me realize how many years of unawareness of my synesthesia caused a lot of health issues for me.
For most of my life, I had no idea that I had synesthesia or that the types of synesthesia I had were possible. Because I also had food allergies, I experienced a great deal of disordered eating patterns and I struggled to manage my appetite, especially around my emotions. This lead to a whole host of consequences with my health like IBS, skin reactions, mild phases of anorexia (no appetite or will to eat), debilitating stomach pains, acid reflux and panic attacks. I eventually began to fear food and struggled to pull myself out of a deep depression because I would often feel like every sip and bite went against the core of my human needs, even if I was hungry or tired. In a desperate attempt for relief, I began chasing a desire to help others heal from similar experiences. I went back to school to study Clinical Nutrition & Integrative Health because I wanted to understand why I felt the way I did and explore the creative career outlets that wellness and food had to offer.
Over the years, I’ve learned more about mindful eating and began to look inward into my own connections with food to better understand how to help others. That compassionate work set me on course to decoding the most important element of my life that I’ve always been chasing to repair. There was always something I could sense about myself that I wasn’t understanding or seeing clearly, but knew was different from other people.
I only thought that synesthesia was the ability to see color when you hear music. I thought you literally saw these colors in front of you, like a hallucination in the room. In the process of exploring guided meditation and mindful eating, I became more aware of what it was I had been searching for in myself.
That’s when I realized there are over 80 different types of synesthesia [https://synesthesia.com/blog/types-of-synesthesia/] and hundreds of other people that can relate to me. I learned can call on smells and tastes at will, I see color when I eat something delicious or hear a wonderful sound. That is just a few types of synesthesia that I have. I began to pay closer attention to this in my mindfulness practice to learn how it impacts my decision making skills. I realized anxiety and depression dulled these senses, always leaving me feeling like part of me was missing. Now that I have spent so much time with it in 2020, it has become the forefront of how I exist in the world and my relationship has completely changed with food. I can visualize the networks we all have with food, nutrition and wellness more clearly and want to share this gift to help others.
How We Can Approach Wellness in 2021
My experience taught me that our food choices can help or hurt us in so many different ways – financially, physically, chemically, emotionally, and we are constantly chasing the questions of, “What does my level of care say about me?” “How do I take better care of myself?”
The most effective way to make progress towards consistently balanced health is organizing and harmonizing the elements in this network and then making the effort to prioritize the most fragile elements. Balance does not exist without consistency, but compassion is the key to consistency. This year I am helping others by sharing the most impactful elements to health & wellness with a new VIP Membership. For a closer look into what synesthesia has taught me about wellness, you can now join the membership for instant access to all my best wellness challenges, recipes, mindfulness practices and meditations. Each month I will be adding new content and taking requests for specific topics!
As always, I am eager to connect and would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Find me on social media and add a comment in my posts or send me a direct message! Can’t wait to hear what you think!