Romanticizing Food

Ignoring your mind is simple, but not easy. Why—because as human beings we are programmed to pay attention to and believe our thoughts. A stressful thought pops into our head and faster than the speed of light, the mind lays out reams of proof about why this painful distillation of life is true.

Here is the bottom line:

  •    If you believe your stressful thoughts, you suffer.
  •    If you believe your romantic thoughts about food, you follow them to the refrigerator, and put on weight.

I know you don’t court a plate of chocolate chip cookies, but that doesn’t stop you from lusting after food in your mind. Consciously you know that food can’t really curl up with you at night and make you feel loved, but somewhere deep down you believe that it is your most coveted source of pleasure.

Romanticizing food means fantasizing about it, imbuing it with qualities and powers that it doesn’t possess, or fixating on the pleasurable aspect of eating it. It can’t give you unending pleasure, make you happy when you’re sad, or comfort you when you’re lonely, relieve your stress, revive you when you feel tired, or re-ignite your joie de vivre when you feel listless or bored.

When you imagine that food has anything to offer you other than nice tasting nutrition, you can find yourself eating for the wrong reasons and gaining weight. If you’re eating solely for pleasure rather than nutrition, eating emotionally, entertaining yourself with food, or imagining what food will taste like, you’re romanticizing food.

 If you are in the habit of asking yourself,

       “What would I like to eat?”


   “What taste would I like to have in my mouth?”

 Rather than,

 “What could my body could use nutritionally?” you’re romanticizing food.

Romanticizing food is a way of deluding yourself by playing “let’s pretend.” Let’s pretend that I can change my unpleasant experience into a pleasant one through food. It is magical thinking that only tells part of the truth and leaves out the bloating, shame, guilt, listlessness, ill-health, and possible weight gain that come with eating too much comfort food. It’s like picking up a coin and thinking you can keep the heads side without the tails side.

Ultimately, healing your relationship with food is about withdrawing your romantic projections from it. When you do this, you are able to see the whole truth of it—all at once. Food, when used in ways that it was never intended, it is a source of pain as well as pleasure. If come to see food’s primary function as meeting the nutritional needs of the body, rather than as a source of comfort or entertainment, or distraction, ultimately, you will stop suffering over food. The reward for this shift in your relationship with food is: a slimmer, healthier body that is yours to keep for the rest of your life without worry or struggle.



  1. This sincerely is educational and I have bookmarked your page.

  2. I wonder about your advice to ask ourselves, “What would I like to eat?” or “What taste would I like to have in my mouth?” rather than, “What could my body could use nutritionally?” In fact, when I really pay attention to what taste I already have in my mouth, maybe I find out that I’m not really hungry at all–that I just have a bitter taste in my mouth that made me think I wanted something sweet, when sweet water will do fine to wash the taste away. But it’s not something I necessarily think about; it’s more about noticing what’s going on with my body. Maybe you talk about this in the book–looking forward to reading it.

  3. Laura Katleman-Prue says:

    I think what you are doing is helpful. You notice that you want to have a sweet taste in your mouth and you bring awareness to that impulse, rather than blindly following it. You noticed that the impulse stemmed from the bitter taste in your mouth and were able to keep the rational, mature part of yourself in charge. What I caution against is keeping our attention glued to the food channel in our heads and fantasizing about the overblown tastes we want to experience in our mouths. In this way, we are either having a party in our mouth or dreaming about having one (which of course leads to a junk food run). Make sense?

  4. Great information and facts. I am fortunate I recently found your site by accident. I’ve book-marked it for another time!

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