Self-Care Sunday: How Food Ended My Relationship and Taught Me Self Worth



The first date encapsulated who I was: it was a decorative, Spanish restaurant I had never tried before and mini golf (something I had only tried once before), represented my adventurous side. However, somehow the essence of who I was never translated into my worth in that relationship. In fact, I found that in that aspect we were polar opposites. Interestingly enough, as a foodie, I was able to find out some critical things in our relationship through food. I know it's laughable, and that's but intention, but it also helps me learn and accept myself for who I was. Here are the things that I learned (and some of the reasons why my past relationships failed).

1. I Like Variety
When we would go out, the Olive Garden was more often than not our restaurant of choice if not another chain restaurant. Despite our frequent trips, I can't say that I had the same thing more than once when I was there. However, my ex always looked over the menu, yet concluded with the same two menu items. One night when we were eating out late, his menu item was not available. He looked sadder than wilted lettuce. Later on I would go on to date someone who had never tasted couscous, and hardly knew how to pronounce it (he ended up liking it, so that's what counts right???).

I realized from those foodie-nightmares that I am a person of variety. I hate the mundane. I get tired of routine. I don't believe in playing it safe. In fact, on a business trip a few years ago, my supervisor at that time was upset because I didn't really care for the dinner I order: butternut squash ravioli. It sounded like it would be amazing right? It totally wasn't BUT I really enjoyed the experience of trying something new and different. This confused her greatly, however I was not at all disappointed that I ventured into the unknown. If I had the spaghetti, would I even be referencing that now? Exactly.

2. I Love Culture
The most interesting culinary experience I had with my ex was eating Indian food occasionally. While I do believe he liked the food, I honestly think we mainly went there because of the nostalgia he had for it, since it wasn't any better than other Indian restaurants I had been to. Outside of that it was typical American cuisine: anything that served burger and fries with Italian in the mix. So imagine my awe when the next guy took me to a falafel place, Jamaican place, made homemade Indian food etc. I nearly spontaneously combusted from foodgasms. Before him, I honestly didn't realize how much I not only loved food, but also culture. So much of food is embedded in culture, that it's often hard to separate the two. I have always been in love with culture, but at the moment in my life I was reminded that it is the core of who I am. How can I not celebrate it whether it be through events, food, or otherwise?

3. Sharing Life Together
One of the most pivitol moments of my relationship was when I asked if I could taste my ex's cheesesteak hoagie. You would have thought I asked to severe his limb. I had never tasted, let alone heard of such a thing, and I was intrigued and curious. It became this huge fight over a simple bite. In the end he admitted that it probably stemmed from a childhood experience of having his food stolen or something like that. I realized at that moment just how different we were. I would share a bite of my favorite meal if it meant that my partner could experience life with me in that very moment. To me it was a self-less act, and a new way to connect.

Don't get me wrong, I have strict rules about sharing: don't "help yourself" to anyone's plate ever without permission (my aunt does that grr) and equalized sharing of food, especially appetizers, should be established BEFORE ordering. But simply asking to "try" something that you've never had before shouldn't be grounds for an argument, especially if you are supposedly going to share your life together. It makes you really question, what else won't be shared? He even went as far as offering to buy me my own, a seemingly redeeming gesture, but it missed the point entirely: I wanted to share everything, even my food, one of my most precious aspects of my life, yet he wasn't willing to reciprocate. And no, it didn't just stop with the food. I really was able to step back and find out what other areas this effected in our relationship.

The essence of who you are = self-care
I don't know. Maybe others think I place too much weight on food, but the fact of the matter is that being a foodie is a major aspect of my life because it reflects other aspects of it. Of course we dissolved our almost-marriage because of a long list of unresolved issues and differences, but it was through food I learned how my different approach to life didn't make me less worthy than the next person. I learned that my core elements were beautiful and deserved to be cultivated, not squashed. Maybe it's the creative in me, but I have made it may goal in life to experience the beauty in life be it through food, art, music, soapmaking, etc, and I am not going to have that light dimmed by anyone who is not looking for the same. You also have to realize when someone's else essence stifles your own, even if it is unintentional or inadvertent. The core of self-care is embracing who you are and learning to surround yourself with people who will cultivate that. Know your worth.


The Body Buffet creates handmade artisan soap, shampoo, conditioners, spa bars, beard care, body wash and more for Baltimore, the DMV, and beyond. We have been creating conditioning skin-loving, hair-loving, since 2009. Visit our shop at Marquita Johl is the soaper-in-chief and a self-care advocate. She has been crafting soap for eleven years.

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