It seems obvious right? Of course our diet should be delicious. That fact, in this widely complicated world, it should be a given. Food and yumminess are inextricably bound. Every time we sit down to a plate of food we are presented with the opportunity to be delighted. And yet, like most things simple, food and our relationship with it, isn’t anymore. It’s complicated, messy and manufactured. Not to mention, so rarely delicious without the added and often familiar cost of doubt or guilt.
Am I eating the right thing?
Will this meal make me thinner, leaner, better?
Has this dessert undermined all of my progress?
Am I just not strong enough to resist delicious things?
Self worth has replaced deliciousness in our diet. Our ability to restrict and withhold, to be bigger than our desire, directly correlates to worthiness. And when we don’t hold out, when we finally and inevitably indulge, we feel unworthy. Pleasure becomes not a means to fulfillment and satiety, but a reinforcer of weakness and unworthiness. If it’s delicious, we’re not trying hard enough.
What happens when we remove pleasure from our diet?
Food is one of our most basic, most primal relationships. Before anything else in this world we posses the ability to feed ourselves. That is something all of us know deep down in our roots. Food is survival. Food is life. But it is more than that. Food is nourishment. Food is vibrancy. Food is connection. Food is our way of telling our body that we love it and we have its back, that we can take care of it.
Food, more than any other relationship besides the one we have with our own head, is our most prolific relationship. And as such, it has the ability to shape all others. Who is showing up to that plate of food is most likely who is showing up at work, in love, at the gym, in front of the mirror, and in the bedroom.
Who is that person?
Can she sit down to a plate of food and be present or is she a million miles away? Can she not simply be fed, but be nourished by the food in front of her? Can she trust the choices that she makes and are they ones that make her feel whole, luscious and alive?
It can feel as if we allow our diet to be delicious we won’t be able to stop. We will be one fat-filled bite away from a dessert black out that will inevitably not end well. There are a whole medley of narratives that lead us to this reasoning, but one the most persuasive is that if we’re not on a diet we’re doing something wrong. We’re not trying hard enough. And so we live diet to binge to diet. From restriction to indulgence to restriction. No wonder we don’t trust ourselves. We’ve been taught not to. We’ve been taught to fear things that are delicious.
There’s No Need to Fear What’s Delicious
Food is immensely important. What is on your plate is huge. But what is more important is who shows up to that plate everyday. Does she know what she’s hungry for? This is the piece we so often miss in the dieting equation. Hunger is a gorgeously multifaceted drive. We don’t only hunger for food, but for connection. We hunger for love. We hunger for movement and for purpose and for play.
When we aren’t present in our hunger, when we seek to fill that space as quickly as possible, of course we turn to food. And not just that, we turn to food that will instantaneously satisfy. Food that is manufactured to be delicious. Food that no matter how delicious it is will not fill that empty space, because it is not what we’re actually hungry for, and so we keep eating. The ramifications of that indulgence, of the shame of that failing lead us to withhold, to distrust anything that is too delicious. And unfortunately (or very fortunately) food is not the only thing that is delicious in this world. So is love, so is sex, so is movement, so is life.
How do we break that cycle?
We break it slowly over time. Changing the way that you eat is like changing the way that you walk. It is intuitive and habitual and unconscious. Thus, we must first make eating conscious. And in the beginning it will be awkward and gangly and we will tip back into what is natural when life becomes too much and too complicated. That is simply part of the process of shifting not an indication that you aren’t strong enough to make a change. But slowly, deliberately it will shift. With enough patience, with enough grace we can change the way that we eat. It can become an act of nourishment instead of fuel, of pleasure instead of restraint.
When we release food from being the only thing that feeds us, what qualifies as delicious changes. We are more wary the food that is crazy yummy but empty – the kind that gives us a brief high before dropping us a hot second later – and more attune to the kind that is whole and real and glorious. When we expand our view of nourishment beyond food, so too do we expand our view of deliciousness.
In order for our diet to be delicious, life must be delicious. And vice versus. They are bound in this cycle of restriction or expansion. But the beauty in that is that we get to choose. We can change our life by changing our food. And we can change our food by changing ourselves.
We can make it all delicious.