At-home date night with my husband is one of my favorite activities. And, yes, it usually includes certain foods and beverages that we both enjoy. But, I also know it isn’t necessary. To break this down for you I need you to first understand how food helps us connect and then I can give you some great strategies for helping you stick to your diet even as you draw close to the ones you love.
1. Shared Experience: Food and beverages provide a shared experience. You feel connected because you are both enjoying the same flavors, textures, and sensations. It is like for one point in time you are brought together for the same memory and it can feel like the anchor is the food or drink. One strategy you can use is to provide a different anchor, a different shared experience such as watching a movie, playing a game, doing something physical, or meeting with friends. Make that the anchor. Make that the shared memory and not the food. It will still come with a plethora of sensations and bring you together for that same moment.
I’ve learned this better as my kids have become older that I build relationships and memories with them better when we DO something together or have great conversations. Guess what, that still holds true for my husband even though we’ve been married for 16 years this month.
2. Enhanced Pleasure: Food and beverages often trigger dopamine to be released in our brain making an experience feel more pleasurable. This also can feel like a let down if we are used to getting a big dopamine hit from the bowl of icecream and then feel like your date is boring when the icecream is not part of the plan for the night. This is where you have to be crafty and find other ways to enhance pleasure. Think about textures of the clothes you wear or the atmosphere of the place you go. Wear special scents and really notice the amazing things that go on around you. Use all your senses. I tell you what, when I stopped using food to make social events, or even dates, fun for me, it is like the enjoyment level got higher, deeper, and more real because I was forced to really find my pleasure in the moment and the people.
3. Masks discomfort. This is hard. Food and beverages as they bring us pleasure they also mask awkward moments or downright discomfort. This is where grace comes in. Accepting that the people around us and the experiences that we meet them in aren’t perfect, that is where we really arrive in the present and become someone others can trust. I love the concept of holding space for others. Sometimes the people I love might be too tired to talk and do more than cuddle on the couch, but when I accept that, those same people feel more loved and accepted than if I’d tried to mask it with food and alcohol in order to force a merry mood.
I think this is one reason I absolutely love spending time with my special needs daughter, Micaela. She is entirely accepting of who I am and also entirely living in the moment. So, whatever I do with her, it feels like my stress levels drop and I know I am entirely loved by her.
Okay, my dears, I hope that helps and solves the mystery of why Valentines and food seem to go hand in hand. I hope you remember that you are epically loved today.
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by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.