Your Food History
Make the “scrapbook of your life” with a food timeline.
How did your food life get to be what it is?
What are your food roots?
- What are the roots of your food preferences (i.e., which foods you like and don’t like)?
- What are the roots of your eating habits (e.g., when you like to eat, how much you like to eat?)
- What are the roots of your thought and emotional associations to foods (e.g., foods like family-recipe soups that make you feel cozy and nostalgic, or foods like traditional plain bagels before a race or a game that make you feel focused and ready)
Those habits and preferences drive food choices. Where did these things come from?
Write your food history
Draw a line …
At one end of the line, write down your earliest memory about food, such as:
- Eating Cheerios with your little brother.
- Sitting with your grandmother as she made chapatis.
- The smell of chicken roasting at a family gathering.
- Your fifth birthday party—mom put candies on your cake!
- Breastfeeding—wow, great recall! (Or possibly extra-hippie childhood.)
Try to imagine the scene clearly.
Going forward from there, add your food memories along the line. For instance:
- Learning to make toast at age eight.
- Making Hot Pockets and microwaved bacon as a hungry teenager after school.
- Working at a fast food joint.
- Sharing a romantic dinner with your first serious significant other.
And so on.
Take special note of memories that involve:
- emotional associations with food—sadness, happiness, shame, excitement, etc.
- iconic childhood and/or comfort foods—marshmallow toasting, abuela’s tostadas, etc.
- personal or social connections with food—certain recipes reminding you of a loved one, how you ate with a certain friend group, etc.
- particular food behaviors—eating alone, hiding food, picky eating, etc.
- food victories—learning to cook something difficult, finally nailing the slow eating, etc.
Draw a mind map
You can also use your the memories of your food history to be a little more specific. Based on what you know about your food life, why do you do a specific food thing? For example, why do I love chocolate so much?
Try a free-flow brainstorm of idea and craft it into a mind map.
You could start out with something seemingly simple, like chocolate, and get all the way down to the deeper driving roots of work and focus.
Review and chart the map forward
Once you’ve written down your most iconic food memories, review your history.
What can you learn about yourself?
What does it tell you about the roots of your preferences and food associations?
Looking forward, now that you have more awareness of these associations and why they’re there, you can make more deliberate choices about what stays and goes.
What associations are serving you? (what’s awesome and could be even more awesome?)
What about the story that you’ve drawn feels true?
What do you want to change?
What do you want to remember of yourself six months from now? A year from now? 10 years from now?
Timelining and mind mapping works for a variety of applications, not only food. You can also map your associations with fitness, body image, or your choices in relationships and work.
The goal, generally, is to get down to the roots:
- Why do you like the things you like?
- Why do you do the things you do?
Write In Your Journal
What do you notice about your past experiences and history?
You can think about your history with food, or with fitness, or body image, or whatever else seems relevant here.
If you were going to write a happy future ending to your story, what would it be?
Again, this can be your food story, or fitness story, or body image story, etc.