Are you one of those people who eat only to survive or are you one of those who profoundly enjoy food? How would you qualify your attitude to food and eating - is it healthy, unhealthy, addictive? Is food your escape, your comfort, your punishment? Have you ever even noticed how you eat or, what you eat and when?
There is probably something unique to each of us when it comes to our eating patterns and habits. Surely, you have had ample opportunity to observe that during December festivities when eating and drinking were in excess. Some people seem to be constantly on a diet, yet never manage to get to their ideal weight. Others overly indulge in large quantities of unhealthy food and alcohol. There are even some who almost seem to enjoy in the self-inflicted torture of vehemently rejecting any food intake. A few lonely souls on this planet believe food is their only friend. We could say that many people have a rather unhealthy relationship with food. But what does that say about them?
The thing with food is that our troublesome attitude to it can quickly turn into an obsession and even more rapidly develop into an eating disorder. Various types of eating disorders exist, and the list of new ones is growing. What they all have in common, though, is a deep dissatisfaction, suffering even, of the person affected by them. Very often, the unhappiness with the body is but a cover for a deeper issue troubling them. Sure, it all starts out as a desire to lose weight or become more muscular, more toned, prettier. However, the real reason for all the dieting is hiding beneath the suppressed needs and desires of which the person might not even be aware of. Initially, when results are slowly showing, people are exalted and feel worthy again. Alas, the feeling never lasts long and the frustration of having to give up on something they love starts creeping in. Many discover that despite attaining the goal their overall satisfaction with life and themselves is still at an all-time low. Why? Because almost always, eating disorders are related to the feeling of being in control. People who feel like their life is spinning out of control, or who are frustrated by something that is beyond their power, start focusing on food because it's the only thing they still have some say over. Or so they believe, as food soon takes control over them. Overeaters often try to suppress their negative emotions and the feelings of worthlessness by stuffing themselves with lots of unhealthy food. For a moment they find comfort and solace in it. Sometimes, overeating is their cry for help, and they hope someone will notice them suffering and come to their rescue.
Those who don't have an eating disorder, yet are extremely strict and rigid about their eating, frequently don't know how to enjoy life. They seem to be punishing themselves all the time without knowing it. To them, life is work and no play. They believe enjoying a good meal over a fun dinner with friends is not allowed as they associate life with rigidity, sacrifices and pain.
How about those who seem to enjoy food and wine almost too much? Well, they tend to consider themselves above all others. At least on the surface. Beneath it all, they feel like frauds and fear that someone might unveil the embarrassing truth about them. They act as if rules and limitations don't apply to them. Sadly, their debauchery often masks the underlying depression they can't seem to shake off. These bon vivants give the impression of being masters of their life. Deep down, though, they too are unhappy with themselves. Frequently, they seem to compensate the lack of professional, personal or relational success with their larger-than-life attitude. And what better way to demonstrate it than sitting at the table and eat life with a big spoon! Therefore, they need to ostentatiously show to everyone that the world is their oyster.
Of course, as always, these are but some possible reasons as to why people act the way they do at the table. Take it as food for thought and try to notice for yourself what kind of eating patterns you engage in and when. It just might help you get to the bottom of what's really eating you up.