If you have modified your diet (for improved health or religion or self-discipline) for any length of time, you might feel like the woman in this illustration–sad and lonely, and left out of the lunch time fun that the other ladies seem to be sharing.
The above illustration exaggerates this idea, but it does bring up the interesting subject of feeling like your life will not be any fun if you eat differently than (or in the woman’s case, less than) other people.
If you have ever felt anxiety, or sadness, or tension prior to or while you are changing what you eat, it is worth exploring what you believe about the foods you are excluding.
It’s possible that you believe specific foods bring you happiness, comfort, joy, or peace, and that by not eating them, you risk being miserable. It’s possible that you believe they provide you friendship and community, and without them you will be lonely.
It might sound silly, but it is a common approach if you are in the habit of relying on food to provide you happiness and a sense of belonging.
I would like to explore this idea further.
What causes us to rely on food for happiness or social connection? Why might we feel the odd one out if we choose to eat differently than other people? Is eating like other people necessary to genuinely connect with others? Does any of this even matter?
I suspect that most people do not actually believe that a food makes them happy or one of the gang. That is rather silly to suggest, as food is simply calories the body uses for immediate energy and long-term survival.
So what about not eating a food would cause a sense of lack?
Typically, changing what you eat (excluding specific foods) for health reasons is positive (as is for religious or self-disciplinary reasons). If for health reasons, removing foods that leave you feeling blah, sick, or depressed will help you feel better physically and mentally.
So, what if you still have a sense of dread about not having them?
It is a good idea to ask yourself what you believe about a specific food that you exclude and how removing it impacts your sense of happiness and social connection. Once you know what you believe about this, you can then decide if it’s a worthwhile pursuit to keep at your dietary changes.
This brings up another issue, which is when you decide to eat less of a specific food. If you believe that you need to eat alot of something to enjoy it or to have a good time, you will likely experience negative feelings when you come to the moment of being done with your portion of it. You might feel sadness to stop eating before others or before you are used to.
I’ve had to ask myself about these issues when it comes to foods high in sugar. While they are tasty and fun to eat, they generally leave me feeling rather blah and down in the dumps. When I am with people I enjoy and dessert is being passed out or ordered, I nearly always want to partake to share the experience with who I am with, but I also do not want to risk feeling blah after such a lovely time, so I usually pass (but not always). I’ve had to get honest about what I think dessert will add to my overall experience and then decide if I will have it or not.
I have also had to get honest about thinking I need alot of dessert to have a good time. This belief is not based on truth so when I start to feel sad that dessert time is over (and I have), I remind myself that I feel better with less (or none at all) and that I enjoy life, myself and other people far greater when I don’t have more than a few bites of very sugary treats.
What do you think? Does eating differently than other people have any impact on your experiences with them? Do you feel more or less included in a group based on what you eat together?
What about eating less of a certain food? Does the idea bother you or encourage you to keep at your goals?
Share your experiences by leaving a comment!
Image from Tumblr.