What is food? In the simplest terms, food is material that we ingest to fuel our bodies for life and sustainability. However, as I have pondered on this question, I have realized that food is so much more than just chewing, swallowing and digesting.
- Food is a conversation piece: How many conversations do we have about food every day? How many times a day do children (and adults) ask “What is for dinner?”. At parties and events, isn’t it customary to thank those that prepared the food and talk about your favorite dish? At restaurants and other dining areas, it is quite frankly a necessity to discuss what to order and the rationale behind your decision of choosing one entrée over another.
- Food is a reason to gather: Holidays, family dinners, parties, weddings, you name it – there will be food. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes it is the only driving factor for me to go to events…
- Food is an opportunity to learn about cultures: Food choices are extremely dependent upon culture. There is a reason why we have restaurants of all different ethnicities; there is something intriguing and thrilling about trying a new type of cuisine. Travelling around the world is a fantastic way to learn about new foods and cultural habits. For senior care facilities, Port of Call special events are becoming more popular.
- Food is a career: Many professions center their work and livelihood around food including dietitians and nutritionists, chefs, food scientists, bloggers, etc. With the everchanging ideas and opinions of food and diet, there are many people that find their niche and career path within the realm of food.
- Food is an emotional coping mechanism: Many people immediately turn to food when stresses arise, which is not inherently a bad thing; sometimes you need that stereotypical bowl (or pint) of ice cream after a tough day. We are all susceptible to using food as a security blanket – a way to distract ourselves from the issues at hand.
- Food is a barrier: For those struggling with their body image to any degree, food becomes the enemy. It is the barrier between the negative thoughts and feeling “okay” about how you look. Disordered eating and eating disorders are becoming so prevalent nowadays, and there are those who actually glorify these unhealthy behaviors. Next time any of us feel tempted to reach for an appetite suppressing lollipop, we need to seek for help. Food is NOT the enemy, and we can learn how to have a healthy relationship with it.
- Food is an affliction: There are health conditions that can make eating an unpleasurable experience (i.e. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, extreme food allergies and intolerances, structural difficulties that cause issues with chewing and swallowing food, etc.). Food is no longer something to be enjoyed, but an imposition that has to constantly be monitored and regulated.
Food is something different to each one of us, and whether it is on this list or not, it is up to us as individuals to define our relationship and continue to discover new ways food plays a role in our lives.