Food is a strong player in any person’s ensemble of tools to survive. Think of what you need to keep you on the stage of life and make your list of the roles food and other parts of your life play. What are the needs they serve? Have you assigned the right life tools to the correct needs?
Think of it as a Playbill. You are the director so you can change all the “Players” whenever you like.
For me if there were to be a cartoon made of the transition in my life that food has gone through, it would be these two make-believe story lines:
1) One day my brain’s stage manager took to the mike, off in the wings, and made an announcement for my whole mind and body to hear:
“Due to reassignment, “Food” will not be playing the role of “Great Comforter”. Tonight the role of “Great Comforter” will be played by “Music”.”
2) Then a few days later he took to the mike again and let it be known:
“Tonight the roles of “Medication” and “Nutrition” will be played by “Food”, And the role of “Family Heritage” will not be played by “Food” It will instead be played by “Family Photos”.
Food has always earned its high level of respect in how it fits into our lives. As I’ve indicated, for me food can wear many hats, some of them appropriate and some of them, well let’s just say there are better players for some of the roles.
I can’t think of a time when something meaningful happened where there was no food. I remember that food was always central part of things. My grandmothers and mom prided themselves on providing only the best for family gatherings. It was an important role they played and they knew it. It was part of the love.
Besides the obvious meanings of the holidays and special days and events, it’s funny how we equate food with them. For my growing up family this is what the days meant in terms of food:
January 1st: ribs and sauerkraut
Easter: grandma’s Lemon Pie
Sundays at the other grandmother’s farm: fried chicken, roast beef, ham, green beans, dinner rolls, pineapple and marshmallow salad, muffins, mashed potatoes, noodles, cake and pie.
Forth of July: Waffles, candy apples, breaded tenderloin
Friday nights Pizza and French fried pickles
Thanksgiving: Turkey, Capon, dressing, potatoes, scalped potatoes, pecan pie, cherry pie
Christmas: Same as Thanksgiving plus a ton of candy, summer sausage and cheese and crackers
Birthdays: A feast of whatever the person wanted.
Food was there as part of heart to heart talks. A bowl of ice cream was there whenever there was a reason to be sad or it was a bad day.
We had lots of body and brain activities including riding bikes, homework, friends to run around and play with outside. We did lots of camping trips, took dance lessons, piano lessons, swim team, volleyball, and for a few years we played in the school band. I was in 4-H and in a girls club. Our lives were full ones, we didn’t just sit around and eat. Yet food is what brought us together every day at the dinner table and when something significant happened, good or bad.
I took off for other parts of the country while in my 20’s. And food was always a reminder of home. Food was more than to feed me when I was hungry, it was a thread that kept fresh in my mind what I grew up with and with whom. It’s no different for many others Just like when I was a child and I’d be offered a bowl of ice cream when sad, food had played my comforter way too often. Those attachments are strong ones and the idea of no longer having them in my life seemed like parts of my life dying.
Just like people finding the right line of work, different parts of my life make more sense to fill a specific need I have. There is a difference between being hungry and having anxiety. I no longer handle them the same way. Food resolves hunger and if smart about what food I eat, it can treat my health problems. Food does not resolve anxiety. Meditation, good communication and a plan of action are my tools now for anxiety. No need to hand me a Hershey bar. No thanks.
Hunger And Anxiety…
…And never the twain shall meet.
So with less inflammation, and finding more clarity in my life, I am grateful that I finally broke the cycle of misusing food and starving my body of nutrients. My rediscovering music and writing for anxiety has been just what I’ve needed.
The role of the character in this story who finally figured this out at age 55 is being played by….”Me”.