Do you know who you are? If you do, then you know how to behave. Our beliefs about ourselves define how we act. That goes for how we behave with foods, too.
I’m talking about our “food identity” — who we believe ourselves to be, in relationship to food. Think about the friend who considers herself the “Donut Diva” because she brings donuts to every breakfast meeting at work. Then there’s the “Goodies Goddess” who totes homemade sweets to women’s meetings or to the classroom for her child’s holiday and birthday parties.
That used to be me. I was the “Norwegian Cookie Queen.” It was a deep-rooted part of my identity, my heritage. I felt that Scandinavian treats were part of my psyche, the inner me. In the cultural melting pot where I live, baking made me feel connected, in some weird, high-calorie way, to my ancestors and my Midwest ties. I liked being the one who could be counted on to bring homemade banana bread to friends in mourning, or a batch of snickerdoodles to celebrate events at work.
If you think about it, maybe you can define your “food identity,” too? It’s more common for women to have one than men and typically applies to sweet and/or fattening foods. If you’ve ever read the Jan Karon series of Mitford books, there’s no better example than the character Esther Bolick and her Orange Marmalade layer cakes (http://www.amazon.com/Esthers-Gift-Mitford-Christmas-Karon/dp/0670031216/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264537217&sr=8-1). Who would Esther be without her cakes?
The funny thing is, we ascribe to these identities in a twisted belief that our identity is all about giving. It’s our way of seeing the behavior as selfless service. Like the busy Italian grandma who makes the best cannoli (by the gross) on the planet, or the Argentinean transplant who makes enough empanadas to serve a team of hungry NFL linebackers. They’re givers, right?
So here’re my questions to you today: What would happen if someone stole your “food identity?” Who would you be without it? Since you’re planning to make healthier food choices in this New Year (you are, aren’t you?), what identity will you choose instead? You get to pick. Think of the opportunities!
Change isn’t easy, but it is doable. It helps when we think of it in a positive light. Choosing who we want to be means changing how we want to act. Want to help your friends and family get healthy? Choose a new identity.
Do you want to be the “Library Lady” who brings the perfect book to friends in need, or the “Note Nana” who writes caring notes and cards? Whatever identity you choose, keep in mind that selfless service doesn’t always have to be about treats. But, of course, if you do choose foods, might I suggest the “Baroness of Broccoli” rather than the “Donut Diva?”