Are We What We Eat?
Every decision we make affirms the beliefs we hold about, well, everything.
The more I think of the saying “you are what you eat”, the more it sounds like a spell being cast.
I’m surprised about how much we don’t talk about how our self-affirming (or self-cultivating) plays out in something we enjoy every single day.
The influences are coming from so many places so fast, before we have the capacity to become cognizant of them, that we actually believe that it’s all coming from us. Now that I think of it, these desires, craving and wants are so hard wired - I doubt most of us ever question them.
It’s no surprise to any of us, it starts at home.
We tend to eat what our parents ate, or some version of it that simply looks different on a plate, but is essentially made of the same components.
This reminds me of when I bought liquid smoke, polenta and Mexican avocados because it reminded me of a Haitian dish my grandmother used to make called mais moulin ak aranso. It translates to cornmeal with smoked herring but it’s so much more than that.
Sure, I made the Whole Foods vegan version but, it was basically the same.
The traditions and comfort foods are obvious though.
What about our favorite cartoons, movies, heroes, bad asses, glam queens, legends and other celebs?
How did watching what they seemed to enjoy quietly influence us?
Much like my former 2 toned silver and grey hair was inspired by Debbie Harry and made me feel more like a rockstar on stage, grabbing a venti Americano (pre-racist scandal) seemed like the perfect accessory for me when I was a full time student doing work study at BDC and working part time. It was all in the messaging.
Busy, Type A, ambitious type must have her coffee to survive. I was so wrapped up in the story, it took years to hear the story my body was telling me.
It made perfect sense until it finally occurred to me that I was absolutely sensitive to caffeine and the constant high followed by an inevitable crash was slowly making me sick and filling me with anxiety.
Similarly, I distinctly recall craving steak or a doughnut whenever I watched The Simpsons.
What about aspirational foods?
As kids we know what’s expensive, what’s rare, or less than attainable depending on our family’s socioeconomic standing.
As soon as I could I ate lots of lobster, made eating at great restaurants a lifestyle, drank copious amounts of champagne and consumed caviar and crème fraîche with blinis galore!
It’s like a mega dose of dopamine. The first hit comes from eating, and the second from the absolute high lingering in the back of the mind that says “this is who I am”.
Remember Audrey Hepburn in pearls looking glam and eating a croissant? How do you feel every time you have a croissant? Is there a quiet sense of romance or a satisfaction that’s hard to explain?
I had my first drink at around age 13 and didn’t realize until about 4 years ago that I actually hate champagne.
No matter how expensive, the stuff made me sick. It was always fun to drink but I always regretted it.
I’d develop cold symptoms almost immediately. Stuffy nose, sore throat (also with cheese - strep throat), etc.
Similarly, I noticed wine makes me feel lazy and sleepy, feelings I’m never consciously trying to induce. No matter what the price point is, the experience of drinking it may be better but afterwards I felt pretty useless.
Somehow I actually wanted to feel that way. It blows my mind now.
Equally mind boggling was the time I spent never making the correlation between all the times I would get sick and what I was eating and drinking.
I identified as so many things that were deeply tied to certain behaviors around food without even noticing for years.
I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but I do believe this is something we can all stand to take a look at within ourselves and a conversation worth having. As we dive deeper into self care, let’s be sure it’s not just a cute hashtag around just shopping.