Society is obsessed with food.
No, really! Hear me out. Think about it.
You wake up, turn on your phone, and check your social media. Your Instagram feed features your sister’s salad she ate for dinner last night. The fitness model delves into her burger (or pretends to delve into). A sponsored ad shares exciting news about Earl’s new menu. Friends caption unrelated photos with text along the lines of, “just thinking about food tbh.”
Don’t get me wrong, food is good. Great, in fact. It fuels our bodies, provides tasteful delight during a busy day, and provides the excuse for social gatherings. Food requires reconsideration when it is associated with overeating and binge eating. Now, this isn’t an article to provide you with scientific facts (I’ll leave the research to you), but from what I have observed, food has become one of the few pleasures in people’s lives.
Think about it.
You come home from a long day at work, tired and mentally drained. What’s the first thing on your mind when you get home? Food? It’s important to refuel, but what about that chocolate ice-cream you later spoon out while you zone out on the sofa, watching Netflix? Or suppose you restrict yourself from having cheese in the house (due to health concerns, intolerance, trying to lose weight, etc.). On your next grocery shopping trip, a block of cheddar “accidentally” ends up in your basket. When you get home, you take a slice, and then another, and then another. Your mind wanders, and now you’re not even truly enjoying it. You’ve consumed the entire block.
That kind of eating is not due to hunger, but rather to emotion. Whether it be stress, sadness, loneliness, pleasure-craving, what have you; food has stepped in and saved the day.
I’m here to tell you that there are indeed (spoiler alert) additional sources of pleasure in life. You already know these, but let this list serve as a reminder the next time worry has you reaching for a spoon and that jar of peanut butter. Let’s begin.
1. Hot water.
A hot shower, bath, or dip in the jacuzzi relaxes muscles and eases tension. Those of us who have hot, running water are truly blessed. It is a reminder to live in the moment during your shower and enjoy the sensation, rather than rush along your night/morning routine. Use a scented shampoo. Shave your legs. This leads into my second point, which is…
2. Self care.
When you take the time to care for yourself, you satisfy not only your physical needs, but also your mental needs. This doesn’t just mean getting enough sleep or drinking enough water, but do the little things you sometimes forget to do. Paint your nails, moisturize, or spritz on a nice smelling perfume. These little things make you feel so much better about yourself, and you’re much more likely to focus on other such pleasures than mindless eating.
You know what they say: Classical is for reflection, Jazz is for passion. Just kidding – they don’t actually say that, but I think it’s a universal agreement that different genres of music incite particular feelings and moods. There’s also a great feeling in sharing with your friends the new songs you discover. So kick back, plug in, and lose yourself in the beats. I’m currently obsessed with tropical house. Find your genre and associate it with good vibes.
4. A massage / Chiropractic adjustment.
This is truly an investment that pays off. A massage or trip to the Chiropractor (or both!) shows yourself that you care about your health, and that in itself is the most immense pleasure life can give you.
5. Walking outside.
Soak in the sunshine and listen to the birds. Or, if you live in a cold winter climate like myself, bundle up and pretend you’re among the snow-capped mountain villages found in fantasy RPGs. Use your imagination. It works wonders!
6. Spending time with dogs.
All animals could be considered, but there’s something special about dogs. They’re seriously so de-stressing to be with, and they have a skill that we could all take notes from: living in the moment. Dogs bark to protect their owners, wag their tails when happy, roll over for belly rubs, and eat when hungry. We could all live a little more in the moment.
7. Coffee (or tea).
I initially wanted to keep coffee and tea out of this list to focus on pleasures other than eating, but I figured that they both require thoughtful preparation and rarely do people binge on coffee/tea. Every time I have a cup of coffee (and I have a lot), I still enjoy every sip. If a daily cup is part of your morning ritual, it can even be relaxing. I think coffee is one of the gifts that God bestowed upon mankind, and I ain’t about to refuse a free gift.
So there you have it! I encourage you to develop your own list of pleasures, and the next time you find yourself stressing about unhealthy obsessions with food, remind yourself of the many other delights that life has to offer. Just live in the moment.