“I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair.”
This feeling seems ridiculous doesn’t it. Who falls in love with food? Julia Roberts did in the popular Eat, Pray, Love movie based on the Gilbert’s best-selling book. Gilbert ate to exercise the emotional baggage from her divorce and uncertain future just as many of us do when we find comfort in food.
In fact, we are eating our way to comfort according to statistics on world-wide obesity. Obesity has tripled since 1975. How many of us contribute to the millions of beautiful foodie pics we share on social media to reinforce our love affair with food?
We personally identify with our food choices just like a good friend of mine who closes her eyes every time she eats chocolate or gelato. Her rapturous “oohs” and “ahs” are honestly unsettling, but they hint at our deeper psyche and emotional needs.
Abbey Sharp, a Canadian food guru and one of the most entertaining nutritionists I’ve ever watched on YouTube, says why we eat what we do is more surprising than we imagine.
As a registered dietitian (RD), food and recipe writer, tv nutrition expert, YouTube host and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc., Abbey’s multi- faceted food and nutrition message is simple: celebrate the pleasurable emotional experience of eating to shed unhealthy hang-ups we’ve developed around food.
How to Shed Our Food Hang-Ups?
Okay so what hang-ups are Abbey referring to, and how do we shed them? We need to take a more carefree approach to eating that still focuses on health will keep the fun in food. And celebrate your meals.
Explore culture and discover new foods when you sit down to eat – with the emphasis here on sitting down to eat. It doesn’t matter where you live, but Abbey has noticed that people in cities tend not to sit when they eat. As a result, they don’t prioritize health with their food.
This helps explain why we don’t feel emotionally satisfied when we eat. We are rushing around and denying ourselves certain foods. Too often, our choices and decisions moralize foods – as if they can be judged good or bad according to our food preferences. When we become less fixated with our “food identify”, we can eat what we love using a healthy-sized dollop of good judgement.
Here are a few things that Abbey suggests we consider when it comes to food:
- Do not feel guilty about food choices;
- Listen to your body;
- Pay attention to emotional and physical cues when you eat; and,
- Own your personal experience with food.
Over the course of Abbey’s career, she’s noticed that men and women approach food differently. What you don’t want is “food rage”. Yes, I said food rage. Sounds strange but Abbey has seen how connected we can become to our food choices and rituals.
Women who follow a religious approach to dieting and struggle to make sense of confusing trends become adamant about their food selections and preparations. Food intolerance’s like gluten free, vegan, and keto diets become polarizing influences and prevent us from enjoying our meals.
A sort of “food rage” ensues and produces an unhealthy emotional response.
I was shocked to hear that both men and women feel this way. I assumed women were sensitive and tough on themselves when it comes to body image, especially given the impact of mainstream media.
The idea of men saying they love a woman with a hearty appetite even though they expect them to be a perfect dress size (whatever that is!) is what comes to mind.
Sadly, we’ve created extreme lifestyles with food, as well as dangerous and unhealthy perspectives that are dividing us. Abbey’s interest in food identity started when she enrolled in a sociology class at the University of Toronto, Canada.
She studied interesting questions like what women ate on a first date. Her fascination with research in the nutrition industry has continued, and she is conscious about the influence of gender on food selection, especially as it relates to our social body expectations and perceived feminine identity.
Trying to neutralize gender and eliminate unhealthy associations with food are important for Abbey. We can still be vegetarians or vegans without making this a central part of our identity. Ordering saucy-hot chicken wings shouldn’t be off-limits on a first date for women or men, even if you’re afraid meat will get stuck in your teeth or goopy BBQ sauce will linger like the ring of Saturn around your lips.
Of course, while a lifestyle around highly processed foods isn’t ideal and no one wants heart disease. Abbey says the important point is for us to enjoy the small pleasures of food and to celebrate the bigger experience of eating if we want to remain happy. This is why Abbey’s new cookbook, expected to hit shelves this December 2018, is called Mindful Glow. Its message reaffirms this non-diet approach to healthy eating.
The mindful part of Abbey’s cooking focuses on a wide range of foods, as well as environmental consciousness. She takes us away from categories like vegan or paleo and opens us up to experimenting with healthy eating choices that don’t enslave or reinforce identity around food. Technology is creeping into the picture here too, as we learn more about probiotics and new fermented foods such as Kiefer in Indian cuisine, pickles, and other products like granola, orange juice and health bars are brought to market.
Abbey’s e-courses and “What the Health” videos on her website also dispel this cautionary tale. Be wary of sensational health programs that make us afraid of food. Abbey has listened to parents share sad stories about their emotional vulnerabilities with food. So, as she approaches motherhood (Abbey is expecting a baby very soon), she will certainly take aim at these concerns. I’m counting on Abbey developing a new line of delicious recipes for babies and children, as well as new recipes for families that incorporate her love of travel and yummy finds from abroad.
Abbey’s mindful approach to eating has made her a huge success. She’s an official partner for the wildly successful Multi-Channel-Network (MCN) and a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for dozens of popular food, health and lifestyle brands like Electrolux, Frigidaire, Almond Board of California, Jamieson Vitamins, Labatt, Sunkist Citrus, Panasonic, and Meyer Cookware. Abbey’s become an industry leader changing outdated food identities and working to improve her community.
So next time you open a Best Health Magazine or tune into the Food Network to enjoy one of Abbey’s appearances, your going to fall in love with Canada’s loveable, high-octane food expert. Her fantastic energy and passion for healthy eating is planted across hundreds of media platforms. Personally, I’m hooked on her video series, and count The Three Vegan Gluten-Free Soups, Potato Pancakes and her Best Vegan Snacks videos as my current favorites. And, I’m not even vegan!