Have you had to change the way you eat?

There is often at least one moment of shock.  Sometimes there are regressions, perhaps crankiness.  Even downright crying.

I’m thinking about this today because, while meeting with a client a few months ago, I remembered an experience of going to the ice cream store.  It was a moment of grief, for a loss, of food.  A summer ritual that was now permanently different.

I cried when I had to order my ice cream in a cup.  The poor ice cream scooper, just doing a summer job, was mystified.

I had always been pretty adamant about a proper ice cream cone; the good kind, not the ones that taste like Styrofoam.   That cone, reminiscent of a cookie, was important.  The sensation of nibbling the slightly soggy edges as the ice cream scoop was licked away shifting toward more crunch as I ate my way down the cone was almost as important as the scoop of rum raisin or mint chip or rainbow sherbet.

Changes in Food and Eating: Is Grief Valid?

The ice cream cone was just one tiny change.  But the ice cream cone change was not flexible and so I felt grief.  We eat and drink often (since it literally keeps us alive) and food experiences have meanings beyond basic nutrients. Grief: for my loss of participation in social activities oriented around foods I couldn’t have.  Grief: for the loss of sensory pleasures associated with the foods I could not have.  These were valid emotions, a part of the process of change.

We are now experiencing many changes.  Perhaps you have seen changes in the supplies available.  Perhaps you have seen changes in the routines of getting Sunday breakfast out with a group or taking family to dinner once a week. Some people may find the social aspects more disruptive while others find the insecurity of food access, or even food prices, more distressing. I have missed social eating occasions, although I don’t specifically miss eating inside restaurants. 

It’s real.  This feeling of loss doesn’t have to drive your choices, but it may be worth reflection.

Finding Resilience in New Food Habits

Over time, finding new habits and even products that work for you can help. But part of committing to the new habits can be releasing the old ones. I now have a new summer ice cream ritual– and I even tasted a new-to-me flavor a few weeks ago.  Teaberry.  Quite interesting.

Building flexibility into your eating can help you become a resilient eater. They’re out of mint chip? No problem, I’ll take teaberry. That’s resilience on a very small scale. More complex resilience is sourcing food from alternate venues or learning to work with new-to-you ingredients when your staples are not available. You are building skills and the mental adaptability that makes you resilient.

(If you thought this was going to be about changes in eating after experiencing loss and grief related to losing someone like a spouse, my apologies.  That’s a topic worthy of a book.)

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