When you’re rewriting your relationship with food, figuring out how it fits into your fall traditions can be just as complex as creating new habits around caring for your body. For this reason, it’s important that you allow joy and connection to take the place of painful rituals that no longer serve you. This fall, you can do that in many ways. Today we’re sharing our favorite fall festivities that will put a distinctly autumnal softness on the sharp edges of your food-based feelings. We’ll start by inviting curiosity to explore what that might look like in your life this fall.
Food can be so much more than eating
Pumpkin Spice Lattes did not become synonymous with fall because they’re a rarity. These aromatic drinks created a cultural moment that people felt connected with. Autumn is full of moments like this—cute coats and scarves, bonfires, festivals, and more. There are so many opportunities to lean into the season but what does that look like when it comes to mealtime?
Community and connection during meals
With socializing returning indoors and more movie nights in your future, this is an opportunity to make a cultural moment out of meals in your life. What could happen if you leaned into a cultural moment of community where control was once held tight in your life? Now is the perfect time to invite a cool shift of reflection and connection, especially if you’re considering revisiting your relationship with food during eating disorder recovery. In these moments, there is not a single ounce of focus on what you’re eating or even how the food decisions happened. Food is the activity but it is not the conversation. Instead, you are offered the power of parallel space—a chance to connect over an activity that allows you to strengthen your bonds and sense of belonging.
There are mental health benefits of social eating
Two important practices—eating socially and making food an invitation to curiosity instead of a central theme of your life—have power over your mental health in some powerful ways. After feeling fraught with anxiety and avoidance, you may fear that food will only bring up these negative mental health impacts. Fear not, as we’ve got some excellent news for you: there are so many ways to restructure your social eating so that you feel supported during these experiences. From researching seasonal recipes to sitting once more around a communal table, you can invite the opportunity for shared gratitude and an increased sense of connection. You may find—like this neurobiological research did—that your emotional intelligence increases through the simple act of opening up the possibility of sharing a meal as an activity with loved ones. Sharing food has also been evidenced to benefit us from a very young age in a variety of ways. There’s even a global conversation about the power of shared meals to build community.
Learn and grow with fall festivities
Consider taking in your local attractions like the zoo or botanical garden to experience plants and nature in a new way. While you’re in these spaces flourishing with life, seek out information on the plants and growth that happens seasonally. Can you use any of them in cooking, seasoning, or for decoration around the house? From picking your own (think pumpkin patch and apple orchards) to treating yourself to a new perspective, you’ll surely spend a day making memories with your loved ones! If you’re looking to start your own garden, check your local community spaces for tips on successful local gardening. Here in Bellevue, our government has created an accessible guide to help you get started.
Fun autumnal recipes to create together using seasonal foods
Washington is a lush landscape for many who enjoy the outdoors, but there is more to these landscapes than their views. Our diverse agriculture and rich farming communities mean there’s always something new and homegrown that’s blooming, sprouting, or vining its way into our community produce selections. When you’re learning new ways to connect with food and family this fall, local seasonal food can be an inviting way to encourage curiosity. Many autumn crops are rich in nutrients and vibrantly colorful on the plate which can make trying new foods a sensory experience to share. With that in mind, we’ve got three recipes for you to try. If you’re looking for extra fun around this foodie adventure, consider inviting friends over to prepare them together! Butternut squash casserole is beautifully vibrant, comes together in under half an hour, and maximizes autumn flavors in a way that you can customize for a group or prepare in advance for meals on the go! Get the recipe here. Pumpkin Spice for making absolutely anything you want is as iconic as the seasonal latte by the same name. You can use it on toast, apples, coffee, or even just drizzled in honey on a spoon! Keep it around for all your pumpkin spice needs. Get the recipe here.Chicken and wild rice soup is a comfortable and distinctly autumnal soup that can simmer all day in the slow cooker as you enjoy the fall weather. Settling in with a homemade meal will never feel so easy! With a variety of seasonal vegetables, this one is as much a delight for the eyes as it is for the tastebuds. Get the recipe here. Fall feeling and food feelings aside, managing your eating disorder even after recovery will always be more than just a food thing. We hope you have found some space to embrace the ways to make meals more than just about food in your life today. You’re doing a great job, and we are proud of you. If you’re looking for new or continuing support in the Bellevue, Kirkland, or Seattle area, THIRA Health is here to help.