Kari Dahlgren

Coach | Author | Advocate

feel normal around food again

Why Do I Love Food So Much? Amazing Reasons to Cherish Food & What to Do If It Triggers Overeating

why do I love food so much? appreciating food & indulgence without overindulging

As someone who finds immense joy in the culinary world, I’ve realized that my relationship with food extends beyond mere sustenance. It’s a love affair that’s as complex as it is comforting, and if you’re anything like me, you may catch yourself wondering, “Why do I love food so much?”

From the anticipation of a perfectly baked lasagna, with its layers of gooey cheese and rich tomato sauce, to the simple pleasure of biting into a crisp apple, food has a way of evoking emotions, memories, and even a sense of identity. But this love, like any other, comes with its challenges, such as the fine line between savoring and overindulging.

Join me as we delve into the multifaceted reasons behind our shared love of food. My hope is that by better understanding it, we can find a more balanced and fulfilling relationship with life as a foodie.

There’s Nothing Wrong With Loving Food!

In my opinion as an eating psychology coach, loving food is a perfectly healthy and natural part of being human. Food is not just fuel for our bodies — it’s a source of pleasure, comfort, and connection. It’s perfectly fine and even healthy to be a “foodie” and take delight in the culinary world.

If you find yourself feeling anxious about your love for food, know that you’re not alone. Many people worry about the time they spend planning meals, the possibility of overeating, or the implications of their food choices on their health. It’s important to remember that a balanced approach to eating — one that allows for satisfaction, joy, and a love of eating — is key to a healthy relationship with food.

Also, it’s important to distinguish between enjoying food for its taste, cultural significance, and the pleasure it brings, and ‘hedonic eating,’ where one might eat compulsively beyond physical fullness in search of pleasure. This type of eating often occurs when there is a lack of joy in other areas of life, causing some to seek comfort and happiness exclusively through food. Again, while it’s perfectly healthy to find joy in eating, it’s good to proactively work on stopping overeating if a love of food triggers it (which we’ll discuss later on).

Excellent Reasons for Loving Food

Unpacking the reasons for why you love food so much can provide valuable insights into your relationship with food and eating habits. Understanding the psychological, emotional, and physiological factors that contribute to your love of food can help you make more informed choices about your diet and overall well-being.

Here are some reasons for loving food more than the average person:

  • Cultural Significance: Food is a vibrant expression of culture, encapsulating history, tradition, and identity. For example, Italian culture is well-known for placing significance on enjoying meals socially, and spending hours gathered around the table bonding over food.
  • Social Connection: Sharing meals is a universal language of bonding, creating a sense of community and togetherness. When I make plans with friends, it’s often over coffee or a meal. If I’m not hungry maybe those plans will shift to a shared hike together, but because food is so enjoyable, it’s nice to plan for food-related experiences.
  • People Pleasing: Here’s a reason for loving food that may come with some kickbacks. If you identify as a people-pleaser, your love of food may be influenced by a desire to evoke positive feelings in others. Studies have shown that people are more likely to choose ‘comfort foods’ in social settings if it means evoking positive feelings in others.[1]
  • Love Language: For many, preparing and sharing food is a heartfelt way to express love and care, as seen in the act of baking cookies for a loved one. If food is your love language, it can easily explain a love of food and all that it brings!
  • Hedonic Eating: The pleasure derived from eating, beyond just satisfying hunger, can be a delightful experience, like savoring a piece of rich, dark chocolate. If you feel stressed by the question, “Why do I love food so much?” perhaps eating for pleasure goes beyond physical fullness and triggers overeating. In this case, learning how to stop eating for pleasure can help.
  • Happiness: Food naturally makes some people feel happy, and there’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, eating pleasure has emerged as a tool for healthy eating and Canada has even included enjoyment of food as a healthy eating recommendation.[2] However, if you ever feel like food is the only source of happiness in your life, it can heighten the risk of unbalanced eating patterns like hedonic eating, emotional eating, and overeating.
  • Dopamine Effect: Eating can trigger the release of dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, providing a sense of pleasure and reward, as experienced when biting into a favorite dish. The impact of dopamine has been well-studied on sugar consumption and binge eating.[3] If you have a strong love of food, it could be that you love the way food makes you feel.
  • Serotonin Effect: Certain foods, like those rich in sugar, can boost serotonin levels, which provides a mood-boost.[4] If you have a strong love of sweets, serotonin could have an influence.
  • Taste Satisfaction: Neurochemicals aside, the simple enjoyment of flavors, textures, and aromas in food can be deeply satisfying, as in the crunch of potato chips or the tang of a fresh, garden salad. Satisfaction is an important element of eating, and this phenomenon can trigger overeating if you’re ever left feeling full but not satisfied after eating.
  • Joy in Variety: Some people love food so much because they enjoy new experiences and variety in cuisine. Exploring diverse cuisines and ingredients offers an exciting adventure for the palate, like discovering the unique taste of a tropical fruit you’ve never tried before.
  • Joy in Sameness: Personally, I can get hooked on a specific food that I like and eat it frequently for a long time. At one of my old jobs, I ate the same exact meal (lemon basil chicken with steamed kale and coconut rice — yum!) for two months straight. It concerned some of my coworkers, but I just loved that yummy, nourishing meal so much that I wanted it all the time.
  • Comfort and Nostalgia: Certain foods evoke memories and provide comfort, like the warmth of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. There’s a lot to love about foods that bring back great memories.
  • Nutritional Value and Self-Care: Eating certain foods can be a wonderful act of self-care, which can explain why some people love food so much: they love taking care of themselves. For some people, this self-care looks like nutrient-dense foods like colorful salads while others may find self-care in dessert. It’s important to view all foods equally, because labeling certain foods ‘good’ and others as ‘bad’ can heighten disordered eating patterns.[5]
  • Celebration: Food is often at the heart of celebrations, serving as a way to mark special occasions, like a birthday cake. Again, it’s important to avoid labeling foods like cake as ‘bad’ and embrace a love of food during celebration; otherwise it can lead to feelings of guilt after eating.[6]
  • Reward Mechanism: If you’re wondering why you love food so much, maybe you like the feeling of rewarding yourself with food after a long day or after reaching a goal. While food is indeed rewarding (remember the effects of dopamine and serotonin mentioned earlier?), it’s often worth avoiding the use of food as a reward.
  • Coping Mechanism: Finally, a love of food could stem from the common pattern of using food as a maladaptive coping mechanism or “buffer” from uncomfortable feelings.

While hedonic eating can trigger a love of food for the pleasure it evokes, avoidance eating can trigger a love of food for the void it fills when negative feelings arise. If you struggle with avoidance eating or general overeating because you love food so much, it can trigger some envy or resentment towards others that don’t.

Why Do I Love Food So Much While Others Don’t?

This begs the cliché question: Do you live to eat or eat to live?

For those who love food, it can be envy-worthy to observe individuals who simply forget to eat or view food merely as sustenance. This ability to overlook meals might appear as a convenient way to avoid overeating or obsessing over food choices, and it can spark envy.

For people that don’t love food, perhaps they can easily tolerate cheap and quick foods like top ramen or hot pockets, while others experience physical discomfort from such foods like bloating or heartburn. These reactions can force people who otherwise would feel satisfied by a frozen dinner to be more selective with their food choices, prioritizing quality over convenience.

If you find yourself asking, “Why do I love food so much?” but also feel resentment towards the lovely foods that you eat, maybe you’re skilled at listening to your body and it pushes you to eat foods that are “higher maintenance.” This deserves to be celebrated, because taking the time to eat foods that make you feel good — even if it takes extra time and intention — is an enormous expression of self-love and self-care.

When Food-Love Triggers Overeating

But what if a love of food tends to trigger overeating? This can further perpetuate resentment towards people that don’t love food so much, and it can trigger guilt or feeling bad about your body. By understanding how to appreciate your love of food without overindulging, you can experience the pleasure of eating without compromise.

Here are 3 tips for preventing a love of food from triggering overeating:

Adding Joy to Your Life Outside of Food

When your love of food triggers overeating, it’s essential to find joy in aspects of life beyond the dining table. This approach helps prevent hedonic eating and eating for pleasure instead of experiencing life for pleasure.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with finding joy in food! Eating can and should be enjoyable. But when food is your only joy, it can trigger overeating, and engaging in joyful activities can help you avoid hedonic eating and learn how to stop eating when full.

Engage in activities that bring you happiness and fulfillment, such as hobbies, intuitive movement, or spending time with loved ones. By diversifying your sources of joy, you reduce the likelihood of turning to food as the primary means of pleasure.

Enjoying the Taste of Food Without Insisting on Perfection

Satisfaction is a crucial element of eating, but it’s important to accept that not every meal can be perfect. With limited time and budget, aiming for perfection in every dish is unrealistic. Instead, focus on the satisfaction that food brings, even if it’s not the ideal meal. Learn to tolerate the discomfort of dissatisfaction when it arises and appreciate the meals that do meet your expectations.

Unwind the People Pleasing Patterns

Resisting the urge to eat just to please others is vital in managing overeating. If you’re not hungry, it’s okay to decline food, even in social situations where others are eating. However, for people with strong people-pleasing tendencies, this is a tall order!

Personally, I was able to overcome my people-pleasing patterns by reciting the affirmation, “I am willing to upset other people,” over and over again. While it may sound harsh, an affirmation like this is necessary for those of us that are too nice — where “too nice” means willing to sacrifice physical wellbeing (overeating) in order to please others.

Learning to hold space for the discomfort of not eating in the presence of others is another skill that can prevent overeating. As you flex the muscle of tolerating that discomfort, you can get better at it over time. It’s important to prioritize your own hunger cues and well-being over the expectations of others.

Why Do I Love Food So Much? It’s a Normal Human Experience

A true love of food is a multifaceted experience that encompasses cultural, social, and emotional dimensions. It’s a celebration of life’s flavors, a canvas for creativity, and a source of comfort and nostalgia. However, it’s important to recognize when this love leads to overeating and to take steps to maintain a healthy balance.

By adding joy to your life outside of food, enjoying the taste of food without insisting on perfection, and unwinding people-pleasing patterns, you can savor your meals without compromising your well-being.

If you tend to struggle with overeating, my philosophy, Psycho-Spiritual Wellness, can provide a helpful roadmap out of the pattern without the need to diet, which is necessary for us foodies! To get a free 5-day course in Psycho-Spiritual Wellness and learn more, sign up for my free ebook below:

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Ready to dive even deeper into your journey of self-discovery? I proudly present my most celebrated workbook, Why We Do the Things We Do. This 75-page digital workbook reveals your unique psychological blocks to compulsive eating. By actually putting pen to paper, you’ll be surprised by what comes up.

Some say ‘feel it to heal it’ but this workbook takes it a step deeper and helps you ‘see it to heal it.’ If you’re the kind of person who logically knows how to live a healthy lifestyle but you compulsively do the opposite, this workbook will illuminate what’s standing in the way. Then, you know exactly where to focus your energy.

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