food as relationship
What is food? Few of us probably have ever paused to wonder. But a closer look at how we relate to food can reveal much about how we show up in relationship generally. It is, therefore, a question worth chewing on, and we can expect that what we learn about ourselves and food will look a little different for each of us.
Food has many faces. Food is fuel and function, passion and excess -- the essential and the unnecessary. Food is identity and community. Food is personal and political. It is what we take fully into ourselves and what we reject. Food is what we nurture and what we withhold. It is pride and self-loathing. It is medicine and poison. Food is fullness and hunger. It is hope and despair, pleasure and deprivation, thirst and longing and desperation. Food is wholeness and fragmentation. It is all the parts coming together to make one, and the one that is broken down again. Food is life and death. It is art and destruction. Food is stored energy. It is potential and possibility. It is process and transformation. Food is the perfect mirror. It is always both itself and the thing that is eating it. Food is whatever we bring to the table. Food is relationship. An encounter with food is an intimate encounter with the full range and reality of our humanity -- a visceral experience of the overlap between need and choice. And when we see food for what it is, then we see ourselves.
food in therapy
It is my great privilege to be building on the exciting work and research of established and emerging experts in both psychology and nutrition, and to be collaborating toward the advancement of a more inclusive and non-pathologizing approach to food psychology, which I call Relational Food Psychology.
If food psychology is understood as an exploration of the motivations and behaviors that inform food relationship, then "relational" is the term that acknowledges that those motivations and behaviors don't happen in isolation. Social and environmental contexts are continually shaping and informing how we reach, or don't reach, for food. Food relationship, after all, is the intersection of many things -- identity, body, story, family, emotion, environment, and more. Sadly, much of the current conversation happening culturally around food tends to locate the "problem" within individuals, shaming us and perpetuating the myths that we lack some basic motivation or willpower. But a relational approach to food psychology in therapy not only focuses on identifying and exploring how social and environmental contexts impact individual motivations and behaviors; it also integrates specific personal and social interventions (e.g. mindful eating, group storytelling and embodied resonance practices) designed to shift the current culture of shame, isolation, and pathology into one of empathy, connection and wellbeing.
become a food groupie
Below are some of the groups on food relationship that I facilitate. Please inquire with me directly about group schedules, as current offerings may be different from those appearing in the below flyers. All groups require a one-on-one consultation before joining.
- Mindful Eating Group -- THURSDAYS, 5:30 - 7:00pm
- Being with Diabetes (for people with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes) -- SUNDAYS, 5:00 - 6:30pm
Angela is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapy Intern and Counselor-in-Residence at The Relational Center in Los Angeles, California, where she provides counseling and psychoeducation to adults and adolescents of diverse cultural backgrounds. Sessions by appointment only. Please contact Angela for more information.