(249) How do I return to food as a source of comfort?

Did you use to have a comforting relationship with food until diet culture told you that it was all wrong? What happens when we feel betrayed by the comfort of food? In this episode of the Love, Food podcast, our host Julie Duffy Dillon walks us through how shifting our mindset towards community and radical change can help us with our individual food practices. You can listen here now.

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Dear Food,

I have had a complicated relationship with you for most of my adult life.  Growing up you were part of celebrations and parties or could serve as comfort during the loss of a loved one.  When I got out on my own, you definitely shifted to comfort as I was in a complicated situation and food seemed to soothe me/make me feel better.  What I did not like was the weight gain that came with all that “comfort”.  I got married, joined a commercial weight loss program and lost a significant amount of weight-felt good about myself, others validated me and my efforts.  But it was freaking hard to keep up this new found body that I was in-so many unhealthy habits crept up in an effort to show up on the scale and see what I deemed to be the prized number at the time.  I yo-yo’d over the years, and if we fast forward to now, I have put on weight and weigh more now than I have ever weighed in the past.  I saw a counselor for a few sessions and they introduced me to the book Intuitive Eating, but it never really took off for me.  I love one of the authors, I watched and listened to so many interviews with her, she is fabulous and that laugh is contagious.  I don’t know if it was because the counselor was not well versed in Intuitive Eating or if I wasn’t ready for it at the time?  I don’t know.  But I can tell you that I’m super unhappy in my current state-I’ve had to repurchase my wardrobe to accommodate my bigger self.  I get frustrated during some workouts as I have to modify some of the moves, but I’m also humbled because I used to do this in the past with no problem.  I love to scrapbook, but do not have many pictures of myself for the past year OR if I do, they are creatively cropped to not show how much I have gained.  How do I balance you?  I’ve tried restriction in the past or putting limits on myself and that did not go well!  How do I get back to a place where I am comfortable around you and ultimately with myself?

Sincerely,

Struggling with food peace

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

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A Woman and her Mandolin’s Simple Empowerment

I am singing her tune! The woman’s plea for the media (and the world): stop minimizing my feelings, my experiences, my being because I am a woman. And, allow me to see size diversity instead of “dolls.”

You gotta check this out. You’ll be tapping your foot to her empowering mandolin tune too. I loved it so much, I just made her an honorary member of my anti-diet militia.

Airborne remotes and projectile shoes: Watching TV with me

Watching TV with me can be a scary event. I often throw things plus you may hear an f-bomb or two. Common experiences include:

“What!?!? What the f*#$??? (Husband quickly ducks missing airborne remote and projectile shoe.) I wanna kick their a&&es and punch them in the face! How dare they tell us not to trust our bodies. Give me a f*&%$ing piece of paper…I am going to write them a letter.”

These outbursts stem from commercials lurking for their prey: the vulnerable woman’s psyche. They all seem to have a few common themes:

1.) We all need to lose weight. I realize our country is experiencing an obesity epidemic and half of the country is overweight or obese. What they fail to realize is half of the country is not overweight or obese. Maybe the diet industry does realize this yet they would miss out on profits. Very sneaky to try and convince otherwise intelligent women their bodies are not OK.

2.) Shame on you if you are not dieting. I wish the advertisers would consider the research: shaming those who need to lose weight has been proven to be ineffective. Instead, it is damaging and promotes over eating. Oh wait. Eating more would make women buy more diet products. These diet industry folks are smarter than the credit I give them.

3.) Do not trust your body because it is lying to you. Many diet focused commercials lead us to believe hunger is similar to the calm before a tornado. You are asking for trouble if you choose to sit on a porch swing sipping iced tea in the calm before the tornado. Commercial messages teach us responding to hunger patiently and calmly will lead to a never ending binge ruining all the effort put into the day’s diet thus rendering us plump victims of our own desires. One currently on my sh@! list demonstrating my point:

This commercial paints a dreadful picture of a woman’s fate during the night: predetermined bad luck as demonstrated by the black cat crossing her path to the kitchen as well as her victimization by her biological hunger or cravings. Allowing a person to connect with the physical craving for a food would clearly ruin everything, according to Special K. They seem to point out how we should be fearful of what is hiding from us in the kitchen since it is eagerly awaiting our arrival.

I stopped believing in things like the Boogie Man when I was nine. Imaginary creatures are not waiting to pounce on us at night and this includes food. We, as humans, do not need to fear food. Nor, do we need to fear our hunger. Franklin Roosevelt’s famous quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” seems to hit home the point I am trying to make. The more a woman fears hunger or food, the more fearful it becomes. I believe the diet industry plays with and exploits this fear to pay for their yachts and Ferrari’s.

Our bodies were designed to let us know when we need fuel. This may happen at normal meal times or it may happen at 9:13 pm. Do not judge this. Listen to it. Give it what it needs. When the hunger is gone, you will know you have fueled appropriately.

Any commercials bug you? Any send you mixed messages pointing out your food weaknesses in order to sell their product? Vent here: your remote control and shoe will thank you.

Food and Youtopia: How It All Began

It is the first unofficial day of Spring one day in March 2005. The season has changed as evidenced by the sun, high in the sky, feeling so warm and perfect on my face. It is also the first day I want to drive with the windows down.

I finished work early today. To celebrate the rest of the afternoon to myself, I drive to Coldstone Creamery in Friendly Center. The annoying teenagers working behind the counter do not annoy me today with their obnoxious greeting. The sun’s warmth shields me from annoying people today.

I order a Love It Cake Batter with Cookie Dough. I take my order and walk out the door. I get into my car and as it starts, I hear a song that makes me just feel so grateful and optimistic.

Luckily, I manage to hit every red light on the short drive home. This allows me to finally taste the unbaked goodness. Each time I take a taste, my body surges with happiness and childhood memories of sneaking swipes in the bowl of the cake batter.

As I get closer to home, eating the amazing ice cream, feeling the warm sun on my skin met with the perfect breeze and harmonious sounds, I wonder if this moment can be any better. I am contemplating this and notice something out of the corner of my eye:

I see a little blond-headed boy moving in my direction on the sidewalk. He is riding a unicycle. He sees me see him. He waves.

The sun, the sounds, the sights stayed connected through savoring the taste. I call this sequence of events a food utopia. Everything during these moments felt perfect and the moment could not and would not have occurred if I worried about how many calories I would need to burn off for this Love It from Coldstone. It would not have been complete if I chose a dinky 60 calorie fat free sugar free yogurt. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the food. You will have a food utopia too. This way to zen.