How Wine Changed my Relationship with Food
As a degree-holder in health sciences, I'm always interested in fitness, wellness and nutrition. The importance of physical activity and good nutrition has been drilled into me, as some of the greatest determinants of health and wellness. In North America, we have the highest rates of obesity and chronic disease, and while inactivity and poor diet are large contributors, I argue that the relationship we have with food also plays a role and that consuming wine may revolutionize this relationship.
What are we doing wrong?
We really don't give food the time and attention it deserves. Many of us are guilty of grabbing a quick breakfast and running off to work, or having dinner in front of the TV. These habits are quite commonplace, but they should be broken.
In this distracted state of eating, we are not being mindful of what or even how much we are consuming, and we are not fully enjoying, either. Are you really hungry, or are you simply eating because you subconsciously associate television with food? I've definitely been guilty of this, and let me tell you, there is no stopping me once I sink into my snacks.
What's changed since I got into wine?
I've replaced my couch and television with a table and a glass of wine. Having wine at dinner, has forced me to be more present and aware, and I enjoy my food much more. The beautiful thing about wine is that it encourages you to use your senses. When I drink, I acknowledge aromas, flavours, sensations... and doing this, in company with food, I've found that I eat more slowly and I'm much more in tune with my body, in terms of recognizing when I'm satisfied.
I have also begun to greatly value the sharing of food and wine, with friends and family. I believe that food is meant to be a cultural and ritual experience, and sharing with others truly elevates that experience. In France, one of the official healthy eating guidelines is to eat with others. If you've ever wondered why the French have considerably low obesity rates while they seem to have indulgent diets, it is likely associated with their approach to eating.
Food and happiness
When I was reading The Little Book of Lykke, the author touched on the importance of sharing and enjoying food, and how this can actually affect long-term happiness. One of the suggestions in the book was to "create rituals of food and fire". One family did so by lighting candles at dinner, each night, to make it feel like a special occasion. They found that, in doing so, dinner changed from 'eat and run' to stay and share. I thought this was really interesting, because wine, for me, sort of acted like those candles.
As noted, wine has helped me knock some pretty bad eating habits: distracted eating, over-indulging.... Those bad habits can really lead to a lot stress surrounding food, which can lead people to diet or even develop eating disorders. By taking time to enjoy my food and being more mindful of what I'm putting into my body, I can honestly say, I have no feelings of guilt or stress. I feel like I've achieved balance and a much healthier relationship with food.
The Little Book of Lykke, Meik Wiking