Photo Credits: MShades
We all know that food can be tied up with a whole host of other issues – self-image, confidence, health, happiness and all points in between. You name it, food has a place in there somewhere. When you start to recognise that what, when, where, how and how much we eat is bound up in each of our psychological and emotional make-ups, food can become a hugely complicated subject.
And that’s before you get down to the nitty-gritty of what makes one thing healthy and another a no-no. Food has an extremely diverse second life. It is what anthropologists call an indexical – something pointing to something other than itself: like a bingeing habit pointing to some form of guilt.
Thankfully there are a lot of resources out there to help us make the right choices when it comes to food. It’s worth educating yourself on food labels and nutrition but you also need to address the underlying reasons why you might make bad food choices. Some people have found that alternative therapies such as psychic readings and hypnosis have helped them correct their bad eating habits. Many people have found that seeing a psychic can provide insight into their life and help them to move forward in a constructive way. Weight loss and healthy eating programs may also give you the support and information you need to balance your diet.
This is hard enough when it’s just one person whose diet is being analysed. When you start to look at a whole family, and the whole dynamic that can feed into that picture, things can get even more complicated.
But as so many women are responsible for the meals of others – especially children – it would be wrong to pretend that this indexical consideration of what food means and what it can signal is not important. It is vital!
What our children learn about food today will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and what’s more it will have a direct bearing on the quality of their lives. This is not a subject to be swept under the kitchen rug.
Recognising that kids of all ages (up to and including grow up ones) like more salt, fat and sugar than is strictly good for them is an important start. It means you can start to make the rest of the family take responsibility for their own diets. And that granting of control, that letting go, is in and of itself one of the most important things you can do.
Parents who are overly prescriptive when it comes to mealtimes are simply storing up trouble. What you need to put our faith in is the power of education and the persuasive long-term effects of a good example.
But going too far the other way has its dangers too: just as taking mealtimes too seriously can turn healthy teenagers into a fast food rebels, being too relaxed can be a recipe for complacency.
The real danger lies in the fact that food and diet is one area in which people of all ages are able to exercise some level of control. If the rest of their life is in some restricted, a person may seek to compensate by expressing their desire for control in terms of their diet. It is an indexical in the sense that it can point to a distant point of unhappiness or distress, but we should never lose sight of the fact that a healthy diet is wholly instrumental when it comes to maintaining long term health and happiness. That is why it is so important to get it right, and to keep getting it right. As in all things in life, the trick is to strike the right balance.
The fact that food is so central to our lives and that good eating habits are so important means that the significance of what we consume is becoming an ever more fraught topic for discussion. There are vested interests in the commercial food industry who have their own agendas in this sort of discussion. We should be aware of them, just as we should be aware of how our children respond to their messages. Commercial messages are highly skilled in manipulating the power of indexicality. A happy meal may not be everything it claims to be.