Food as entertainment is deeply entrenched in our culture. When food was scarce, getting together as a community and celebrating the harvest served to feed everyone and bond the community. Food celebrations meant continued survival. Over time, as food became more available, we continued to use food as a way to celebrate. Think of our typical Thanksgiving feast with family or holiday parties with friends. I can remember the special foods from my childhood with fondness. We always had artichoke dip or Aunt Judy’s handmade crescent rolls. I’m sure you can name your favorites too.
Over the past 3 decades cheap food, engineered to taste incredible, has become readily available. It’s easy and inexpensive to make a cake at home. You no longer have to churn anything to get deliciously flavored ice cream. Buttery and cheesy pizza is accessible by a push of a button on your phone. With this kind of ease, we have taken away one of the barriers to celebrating with food. We now can celebrate EVERY SINGLE DAY. And sometimes we do. Look, I think it is important to celebrate important mile stones but let’s keep our milestones to several times a year and not once a week or once a day. Put the emphasis back on the reason and not the sugar fix.
As a reformed foodie I can attest to how much food became part of my entertainment. I’ve planned entire vacations around restaurants that I spent months researching. Every meal was an opportunity to have the most incredible experience ever. Don’t get me wrong. I have had some incredible food experiences. But, all of the time I spent on line or watching the food channels or reading books about incredible dishes took a toll on my brain. I became programmed to view food as the most important part of any fun. For me, this has been one of the hardest parts of the journey to lose weight. I’ve had to come up with ideas for fun without food. I have gradually relearned that celebrating something doesn’t have to involve food or drink at all. It’s about the people and the experience.
I challenge you this week to look around you and see where food entertainment is sneaking into your life. How about the wine at book club? Do you read cookbooks for fun? How many food magazines do you get in the mail? Do you plan to meet your social group at restaurants for every get together? Where are you meeting friends and colleagues?
Food is everywhere both in actual availability and in our visual space. It becomes exceedingly easy to rewire our brains into thinking that food is for entertainment instead of for fuel. When we get a dopamine hit from both the type of food and the social interaction it becomes difficult to separate the two. You can start to rethink this form of entertainment by becoming aware of how much food has become the celebration. Next time you plan for something fun, see how incredible you can make the experience without adding food or drinks. Make it your mission for May.