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When Food Is Your Best Friend

In our modern society, food is much more than a way to feed our body. Food is about what we eat but it's also about who we are: whether we like it or not, it's also a part of our cultural identity.
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Many women fail at losing weight for this particular reason...

...they just can't stop eating the wrong foods, the foods that make them gain weight.

Sure, they know these foods are bad for them.

But they just can't stop.

Some people, including health professionals, say it's a lack of willpower, and that if people are overweight and obese, it's their fault because they don't have enough willpower.

I have a very different opinion.

I really don't think that it's only a matter of willpower.

Far from it.

In our modern society, food is much more than a way to feed our body. Food is about what we eat but it's also about who we are: whether we like it or not, it's also a part of our cultural identity.

Our relationship to food, for most people, has different dimensions.

I remember this woman on TV, saying: "Food can be my friend, food can be my boyfriend, food can be a vacation to a beach when I can't afford to go".

And often, when you've depended on food for every emotional feeling for the majority of your life, it's a hard habit to undo.

And the food we usually depend on for our emotional feelings is not some broccoli, brown rice or a kiwifruit.

No. It's chocolate, potato chips, muffins, cookies, steak, pasta, etc. Professor Brian Wansink showed that when 1,004 Americans were polled, only about 40% of the respondents reported that their favorite comfort food was somewhat healthy.

Why do you think we talk about "comfort food"?

Because food, for most of us, is comforting.

A 2015 study found that "people with strong relationships preferred the taste of comfort food when they experienced feelings of social isolation".

Little kids usually go to mom (or dad) when they are sad or afraid or disappointed. Teenagers can share their emotions with a good intimate friend.

Adults don't have mom anymore (I mean, not in the same way as a child does), and many times they won't or can't share with a close friend...but they have food.

Food won't reject them.

Food won't judge them.

That's why it's so hard to lose weight for many, many women.

Sometimes you can have all the willpower in the world, it's just not going to help you that much.

Our body fat can be a wonderful blanket of protection. We can put it on as a way to protect ourselves because we feel psychologically unsafe.

Many times this is all deeply rooted in childhood, our relationship with parents as children, and we repeat the patterns we created (unconsciously) back then throughout our life, with our partner, our boss, our own kids...

It takes courage, much more than counting calories or finding the perfect balance of carbs, fats and protein in the diet, to face yourself and realize that you don't need that blanket of protection any longer.

That you are lovable and loved already.

It takes courage and a fair bit of work on yourself.

Awareness and acceptance of where you are right now are the first steps.

Anne Ricci is dedicated to helping women solve their health and weight puzzle. You can join her tribe and get personalized tips at AnnesHealthyKitchen's Community.

This article was originally published on AnnesHealthyKitchen blog.