Last updated on April 12th, 2017
Seven months ago, food played a different role in my life than it does now.
I used to see food as a way to relieve stress, to reward myself for a job done, or to compensate myself for a bad day. Chips were an appropriate side dish for any trouble. Cookies were an almost universal cure. The ultimate weapon against depression was a chocolate milkshake.
In a damp, drizzly November of the soul, Melville’s Ishmael took to sea. I took to the supermarket, or McDonald’s.
My destination was less romantic, but more practical. I could get there in minutes, keep my job, and avoid any unpleasantness with whales.
Today my attitude towards food has changed. First, I don’t eat carby junk-food. Second, I don’t depend on food as a mood enhancer.
Frankly, I’m as surprised by this psychological change as by any physical change resulting from my low-carb way of eating. It snuck up on me while I was tightening my belt another notch.
It’s a common-place in diet literature that using food as an emotional crutch contributes to our weight problems. I’m not sure that’s how it worked for me. After all, in losing weight, I did not try to change how I regard or use food. It just happened. I lost weight, and then I stopped relying on food as a psychological pick-me-up. Which way is the cause-effect arrow pointing? Or is there even a causal relationship between my attitude toward food and my weight?
Maybe it isn’t my attitude toward food in general that matters, but specifically my attitude toward starchy and sugary junk-food. When feeling blue or out of sorts, I never shopped for cauliflower or a t-bone steak. It was ready-to-eat food that I craved — products, not produce.
Now that I’m not eating that kind of food anymore, it can’t be an emotional crutch.
I enjoy fresh, whole foods, but I don’t seek them out to lift my spirits. Coffee may still play that role to a degree. But for the most part, I’m looking for food to fill me up, not fix me up. And it could be that my overall mood has improved, becoming more positive and stable; so perhaps my need for a crutch is diminished.
In short, I think I have a healthier relationship with food, but I take no credit for it. I made no effort to change my attitude.
As far as I can tell, my new attitude is a by-product of my success, not the cause.