Most of you know that I consider one of my first difficult relationships the one I developed with food and eating.
It came in as a distinct relationship around adolescence, the usual time young people are becoming interested in adulthood, attraction to others, sexuality, greater responsibility.
I was afraid of the universe. Things did NOT look all that safe to me.
But from that time forward, I can honestly say that I never, ever stayed happily, openly, easily, freely on any kind of a food plan or diet.
I would decide on a late afternoon one day, “tomorrow, I am going to quit consuming Evil Sugar in all forms” and by 9:30 am the next morning I would decide “nevermind, I am going to eat whatever the hell I want”.
I gave up going on food plans or diets pretty early in my troubled eating experience. It was extremely painful to fail, when I already felt like a big failure around food and eating.
Well, recently, after hearing about it for a few years, I came to the conclusion that for three weeks, it was a pretty darn good idea for me to make some changes in my diet.
Which means, not eating whatever I want, whenever I want it.
This is honestly the first time I can remember doing this in my life since my relationship to food stopped being a violent war zone, 25 years ago.
If I’ve done some kind of food plan or been under medical guidance to not eat something, I can’t remember it, so it didn’t make a big impact.
My story has continued to be, I will eat whatever, whenever, however, whichever I want.
Sort of rebellious, I must confess.
But also, a great exploration in experimenting, learning to not be afraid of particular foods I had been told were evil (like candy), finding out for myself what actually worked for me and what didn’t.
I was so deeply committed to seeing things without a moral evaluation attached.
When I was young, people actually would say, when they ate certain foods, that it was naughty, sneaky, cheating, or bad.
Like there was some kind of dark, seductive, haunting, terrible force in that food…like the DEVIL.
But recently, all these years later….there I was actually reading about food chemistry, calories, agents, molecules, all because I thought I’d do some research on some symptoms I was having…
….and I wound up cutting out a bunch of types of food from my normal daily diet.
Just a temporary experiment, allowing myself to see what is actually true for this particular body.
Here’s the funny part I wanted to share with you all: the day after I decided it sounded interesting to do this….an old voice called me on the inner-mind telephone.
“Uh, Grace….remember me? I’m the rebellious teenager who will not be denied here. You are skating on thin ice. Do you want to fail? Are you sure you want to cut out those yummy foods you eat EVERY DAY? This is a little too much focus on food, don’t you think?”
It crossed my mind to drop the whole thing. After maybe 15 hours, 8 of which I was asleep.
Almost immediately, I recognized the fear in that voice, the one who thinks it will be deprived, starving, frightened, restricted, controlled, bossed around, and abused.
Long ago, my restriction of food, and then the huge binge-eating episodes, was like the Dictator in the Concentration Camp withholding food in a war with a Raging Urge to Stay Alive.
Back then, it was outright war, and no solution. Everyone lost, all the time.
No happiness or joy in any of those extreme swings.
I felt great compassion for that old self, so terrified as it once was.
And I saw the idea floating up to be questioned “I can’t handle this, I will be deprived, this will hurt, I won’t get what I want, too scary, too hard.”
Is that true?
Can I really absolutely know for sure that eliminating these foods and doing an experiment of eating other things instead will be too hard, that I’ll be deprived or scared or angry or hungry?
No. I can’t know that for sure.
In fact, the whole point is to see if the opposite is true. Jeez.
“So, how do you get back to heaven? To begin with, just notice the thoughts that take you away from it. You don’t have to believe everything your thoughts tell you. Just become familiar with the particular thoughts you use to deprive yourself of happiness. It may seem strange at first to get to know yourself in this way, but becoming familiar with your stressful thoughts will show you the way home to everything you need.” ~ Byron Katie
Who would I be without the belief that switching around what I am eating in this time/space reality is gonna be difficult, in any way?
Totally excited to play this game. Noticing the fun of learning. Noticing how easy it is to say “no” and then say “yes” and take care of this body the best I know how to, for today.
Turning that impulse around that believes this food experience could mean deprivation, I find these words coming alive: “I can handle this, I will be satisfied, I am satisfied right now, this will heal, I will get what I want, this isn’t scary, this is easy, this is actually fun.”
“Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. Every moment is the Guru.” ~ Joan Tollifson
Even a little idea about changing the way we eat….which may be a bigger idea than we think….is our teacher.
For me, one of the greatest teachers, a holy representation of my belief about life.
Thank you, Relationship With Food.
P.S. Weekend intensive on Food and Eating in Seattle December 14-15, 2013. Click HERE for brief description—more on this coming soon.