Food Noise?

January 22, 2024

I am all about food…and wellness. I love the communal, sensual nature of preparing luscious, healthy foods and enjoying them with people I love.

As an Italian, we always joke that we are either eating, talking about what we ate before or what we might eat later. It’s true. We love everything about food, including the joy of eating it together.

So when I saw the term ‘food noise,’ I thought, oh no…another way to steal another passion from us; just another way to suck the life out of something we adore, in the same way that many airlines have sucked the joy out of travel. You know I’m, right.

There’s so much ‘noise’ out there about how we should be feeling, even by well-meaning wellness gurus. We should celebrate our aging bodies; we should sleep more…or less; we should eat more…or less. There’s intermittent fasting; pregnancy, menstruation and menopause being treated as syndromes and all manner of ways out there telling we are not good enough as we are; that we are not coping; we are not fully…us.

The problem, as I see it, with all of this ‘noise,’ is that we lose sight of the forest for the trees (soooo many clichés; I know). There’s some excellent information out there that can aid us in living our healthiest lives; there’s no question about that…and most of it is simple, uncomplicated and not very trendy, I confess.

Eating well is at the top of the ‘not noise’ list. Eating is a pleasurable thing. I always say that Mother Nature made eating sexy so that we would do it (or, you know, die…). But eating can become a syndrome thanks, in no small part to the purposely addictive qualities of manufactured food products.

That’s not noise; that’s reality.

Exercising regularly and vigorously contributes to feelings of happiness, balance and strength. It makes us feel capable; centered and strong. Stamina is not a buzz word, but a state of sustained strength that only comes from pushing our bodies…in whatever mode you choose.

It’s important to remember that there are new and modern dangers to our wellness, like prolonged sitting and its impact on chronic disease. Again, not very trendy as fitness experts ask you to put down your devices and move.

That’s not noise; that’s reality.

Sleeping enough has been linked to overall wellness for many years now, but it’s only recently that not getting enough sleep has gotten the attention it deserves. And it frosts me when wellness experts say that we should embrace not sleeping; that as we age, we don’t need as much sleep; that we should journal when we can’t sleep.

Lack of sleep has been linked with increased risk of disease, a decline in cognitive ability and depression.

So if you have a hard time sleeping, you need to do something about it…and I don’t mean journal. Try natural methods to induce sleep, like turning off your screens earlier in the evening; meditating (even if that means 5 minutes of deep breathing-4 seconds to breathe in; hold for 7 seconds; 8 seconds to breathe out) before bed. There are supplements and teas that can help us to feel relaxed. I know that for me, watching something crazy funny does it for me, along with a kiss and ‘I love you’ to my husband as we hit the pillows.

But back to ‘food noise.’ I worry about this phrase catching on (I’m looking at you TikTok) because of its impact on people’s relationship with food.

Certainly, there are people who obsessively think about food and it has a negative impact on their wellness. They need support. But for most of us, thinking about food is pleasant; a thing to celebrate; a ritual that evokes feelings of love and togetherness, maybe with a tinge of melancholy for how things were once.

Thoughts about food can be triggered by internal cues (including hormones involved in hunger and appetite) and external ones (like smelling freshly baked cookies or bread). Both can contribute to food noise, but both can also contribute to pleasure, even just in a sensorial way; the perfume of it.

If food noise is overwhelming and your body mass index (BMI) is in the obesity range, the newest obesity medications may be an option, but should be considered very carefully for their longterm impact on more than your wellness.

While all of us experience food cravings and even borderline obsessions, it’s important to look at what we are doing and eating; we need to move away from a restrictive, perfectionistic mindset and be more kind to ourselves, check in with ourselves, have mindfulness practices, so that we can enjoy food fully and healthfully. And before doing something drastic like surgery or weight loss drugs, think carefully and speak to trusted experts and people who know and love you.

It’s important to remember that not everything about us is wrong and needs to be ‘fixed.’ Life is hard these days with political strife; wars and all sorts of life challenges. Food is a joy; it’s love; it’s sex; it’s family; it’s passion; it’s nature, but most of all, it’s human. Don’t let anyone take that away from us, even with the best of intentions.