SFH #35: Let’s Talk about ‘Popcorn Salad’

I have some thoughts 💭

One might see this headline and think this is a joke. It’s also newsworthy enough to discuss some foundational assumptions around health.

Let me first say. I think that the creation is fun. 🎉 I also loved the topic to dive into judgment around food and health and how we account for our real-life human experiences and relationships with food.

The United States weight loss and diet market hit a staggering $78 billion in 2019.1 📈It’s a massive industry, and like any industry, it has its ways of doing business. Weight loss culture and diet culture are built on the backbone of appealing and selling to our ‘monkey minds’ and even subtly reinforcing our ‘lizard’ brain instincts.2 🦎 We all want to change for the better. We want not just to survive, yet thrive. AND to thrive, we must maintain and build strong bonds in our relationships. How do we make those bonds through health? We mirror and thus replicate what our relationships and our environment tell us is ‘healthy.’3 We conform to a sociocultural standard of what health looks like and how to achieve it. You may say, ‘Hey, Brian. That’s not me. I don’t conform.’ To that, I say the complex processing part of your brain (frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex) helps you manage and navigate your personal choices around health. The ‘old brain’ that can’t separate time from emotions keeps you bonded to the world that makes you feel the most healthy (in security and safety).4 You make choices around your health that feel safest to you. ⛑

I am bringing us back to 'Popcorn Salad'! 🍿 It's easy for us to judge. Is this truly a salad if you need a spoon? Should liberal amounts of processed vegetable oil be promoted? Can we even relate to this dish, for that matter? Connecting to our food experiences is how we judge our relationship to food. Our entire catalog of food memory ties to our sensory experiences that helps us encode and consolidate. Our favorite and least favorite foods contain a bonus of deeper emotional engagement.5 It's not a negative thing that we are close to our food emotionally. If you google 'emotions and food,' you'll see the top hits talk about the downsides and promote common 'diet culture' ideas like avoiding shame. I think unpacking the shame is worthy, and comfort food for sadness, shame, and anger has its place. Let us embrace all sides of the equation in food and emotions.6 This midwest church basement recipe is something that I suspect we could relate to if we grew up around similar food fare. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I'm familiar with the love of queso, grilled and smoked meats, and DQ blizzards on a hot summer day. My relationship with ice cream and milkshakes very much links to my childhood and cultural food experiences. 🍨 And I do my best to hold space for the part of me that wants to, will, and can enjoy the indulgence—coming back to my original thought of 'how do we relate to food IRL.'

For me, the secret to a healthy relationship with food is in line with a healthy view of ourselves. We cannot separate our lived experiences from our relationship with our health and food. We get to choose our definition of 'health.' We consciously choose how health shows up in our lives (most notably in our relationships to ourselves, others, and our environment). We get to determine what is good for us and bad for us. It's our body. It's our livelihood. We get to choose consciously where our choices lead us and how we see ourselves.

The questions for you today: How do you want to show up for yourself? What does health mean to you? And how does that relate to your food choices? 🙏🏽