Food as a Love Language (Sugar Sober Series)


October 16, 2014 by Beth Hess

When I was young, visiting Grandma’s house meant soda and honey buns — things we almost never had at home. She would also cook a ham — my Mom’s favorite. And avocado casserole — for me.

She loved us with food.

By the time I got married, I was already well versed in loving myself with sweets and other foods, so, naturally, I loved my husband with food as well. I quickly learned his favorites and treated him to them as often as I could.

Steak on his birthday. Crumb cake for breakfast. Chips and dip for football games. Ice cream just because.

I believed that if his stomach was full of happiness, so, too, would be his heart.

Loving him this way nearly killed him. Diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes earlier this year, he provided a unique opportunity to change the habits in our family. And in our foods.

What surprised me most was my grief in losing this love language with him.

True, I showed my love by making healthier dinners and serving him more vegetables. But — right or wrong — my heart didn’t interpret this as loving him as well as I had before. I still equated special foods with extra love.

For those of you who do not share this struggle with food, it will sound strange. But I think a lot of you can relate.

Maybe you are known for your cooking. When family and friends come around, they expect rich sauces or cheesy casseroles or fatty meats or homemade pies. Christmas just won’t be Christmas without your famous _______________.

To change. To stop. To deny them those pleasures feels like withholding your love. It just does. When you are famous for food, it’s a difficult thing to let it go and love in other ways.

But the alcoholic makes for a lousy bartender, and food addicts have to find a way to stop being the supplier for our families.

So I’m learning new ways to show my family love. Putting out a clean shirt in the mornings. Clearing dinner plates without complaining. Watching for when my husband’s medications get low so I can have a refill waiting. Remembering to pick up more milk on the way home.

Pushing each day to find love — for me and for my family — apart from food.


sugarsoberoctoberIn response to the 31 Day blogging challenge, I will be publishing EVERY DAY in October while I stay sugar-free. You can read previous posts HERE. To be alerted to new posts, please follow me on Facebook or Twitter using the links on the right side of this page. Or Subscribe to get posts sent to your Email. Feel free to Tweet your own experiences with #sugarsoberoctober as well.

PLEASE use the comment section to share your own thoughts, questions, or experiences. Like any road, sugar sobriety is one more easily walked with friends. I do my best to reply to every comment.

11 thoughts on “Food as a Love Language (Sugar Sober Series)

  1. […] crescent moon. A chick sodden in birth’s yolk, pecking her way out to a bigger life. Day 16: Food as a Love Language: By the time I got married, I was already well versed in loving myself with sweets and other foods, […]


  2. susan2009 says:

    I can relate to loving others through food. Years ago when my daughter stopped eating dairy, eggs and gluten (because of allergies), I went into mourning b/c that meant so many family faves could not be served and eaten together.

    Then 7 months ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. More losses.

    Like you I am striving to learn to love others and myself without food or at least without the food we grew up with.

    I am sharing this post with my diabetes group. I think it has great points to talk about.


    • Beth Hess says:

      Thank you for finding it worth sharing, Susan. It is a mourning, isn’t it when not only do we have to give up foods that make us feel good but we have to give up making other people feel good with food. I never realized how often it was my default love language to others until I stared paying attention and looking for other options. But it’s so, so important. So glad you’re here.


  3. BeckyM says:

    I resonate with this a lot! Thanks for giving me something to really think about!


  4. kfinman says:

    This is such a hard truth, Beth. Thank you for this post, and for the encouragement to love in the hard ways and hard places.


  5. Mamey says:

    This was a fantastic post!! This is so familiar! I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels this way!


    • Beth Hess says:

      It really is a hard habit to break, the treating people with special foods to show special love. It’s actually become kind of fun to find other ways to express myself. Thank you for the comment.


  6. Sarah Travis says:

    Thank you SO much for your perspective on this Beth. I have actually struggled feeling like a failure of a wife in the two years we’ve been married. He doesn’t want me to cook big meals and honestly, I have no desire to either!!! However, I’ve felt I’m lacking as a wife by NOT doing it. Together let’s choose love by protecting our husbands and serving them health 🙂


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