Are you suffering from a serious case of FOMO? Are you thinking it’s an acronym for a chronic disease? Well, in some cases it might be that serious.
If you have a fear of missing out – be it a fun event your friends are attending, buying the latest fashion or perhaps the holiday others are enjoying – then you are described as having FOMO. It is fuelled by our insecurities, an obsession with comparing ourselves with others and often masked as YOLO (you only live once).
In July 2017, the Australian cartoonist, Michael Leunig, resonated with so many of us with his cartoon about JOMO – the joy of missing out.
Whilst FOMO is about dread, comparing ourselves with others and having feelings of missing out, JOMO is about contentedness, feeling grateful and owning our choices.
Although JOMO was intended for our fast pace lives, social activities and overspending, reading this poem set off a chain of thoughts for me about how FOMO and JOMO relate to food and eating. What would they look like from an eating perspective?
Because dieting culture creates anxiety around our hunger, as well as guilt over what and how much we eat, they drive us to obsess about food. It can manifest as … taking our share of food before it all runs out … having the last fix of our favourite food before we “have to” go on a new diet … or lashing out and overeating on “non-allowed foods” because we feel sooo deprived. Our dieting culture and dieting mentality, fuels FOMO.
In contrast, when we eat intuitively, there is confidence in declining. Confidence because … we are free to enjoy all foods … no foods are off limits so we have the freedom to choose if and when we eat them … and we’re listening to our fullness. There simply is, no missing out. Only empowerment from our choices, leading to JOMO.
The reference to the ‘restless hungry thing’ may have been intended in a materialist way but also has dieting connotations. It is the body being put through diet after diet and yearns for its hunger to be heard, to be nourished. Similarly, the ‘pleasure of your emptiness’ is analogous to acceptance of our hunger signals. They are something to be respected, acknowledged, not loathed or ignored.
From a food and eating perspective, can missing out really be a joy? or healthy? Does this mean … not eating? Certainly not. To quote Muriel Spark, ‘The sacrifice of pleasures is of course itself a pleasure.’ Think about it. If we miss out on food when it is getting passed around (for the third time) are we really missing out? When food is overrated, are we really missing out? If we don’t buy the ultra-processed foods being marketed to us, are we missing out? If we don’t give in to food porn during the commercial breaks are we missing out? Quite the contrary. It is OK to miss out. Not always, but sometimes. Just like it is not healthy to be in a state of ‘like there’s no tomorrow’, neither is deprivation.
Initially, it may of course feel like we are missing out, compared to the excess we are used to seeing, smelling and eating. It only becomes a problem if we attach feelings of deprivation rather than self awareness. Eating intuitively makes us hone into our bodies rather than what is happening around us. With awareness comes the realization we are doing what sits well with us, our body, our needs, rather than someone, or something else.
When we embrace intuitive eating, there is no anxiety or FOMO. Instead, we discover the JOMO. And the joy comes from listening to our bodies’ wisdom.