Salon recently put out an article about what happens when people don’t get the food that they expect to get at a restaurant. It seems that people go into an emotional tizzy when they don’t get what they expected. It’s no surprise that restaurants can be very emotionally charged experiences for people. They order their food a certain way and when it fails to meet their standards, they then become agitated and angry. This isn’t an unusual phenomenon. Yet, it’s curious. Why is it that people are so incredibly attached to outcome when it comes to food? What is the expectation that food is going to be or do for them and when it doesn’t do that, what kind of reaction do they have?
It is common for binge eaters and bulimics to have a particular binge food, such as pizza or Twinkies or ice cream. For someone who uses food to elicit an emotional response, such as pleasure or calmness or to shut out sadness or anxiety, the Twinkie will consistently do exactly what they want it to do. It’s like taking a xanax. No wonder people become so anxious when their orders are screwed up. They had an expectation of the way the food would make them feel. The food has failed to do that, or the establishment has failed to live up to their expectations. What a let down.
Trying to let go of your expectations as to what food can do for you and trying to let go of the outcome of your food experiences can be liberating. Food isn’t xanax. Yes, it’s nice to get what you pay for, but if it’s so emotionally charged when someone gives you regular milk for your coffee instead of skim milk, it’s worth looking at. What am I expecting food to do for me? Am I really that rigid around food? Will two tablespoons of full fat milk in my coffee make a difference in the grand scheme of things? Watching the anxiety that comes up for yourself, having and observing ego (the observing ego is the part of us that watches what we do and say in some objective manner, while tolerating the anxiety that is produced) as you notice yourself in a restaurant is a great way to let go of some of your issues around food. Letting go of some of the rigidity is crucial.
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