A client recently asked me for a set of “food guidelines” to help him make better decisions about what to eat. So I thought about it, and here’s the thing: We already pretty much know what’s best for us and what we should avoid, don’t we? We know that fruits and vegetables are better for us than our favorite fast food. We know that making a meal of a cherry pie isn’t the best way to stay functioning at our best. We also know that eating is better than not eating. We know this stuff. And yet we do it anyway. Why?
Because of our beliefs about doing it.
We tell ourselves that, “a little won’t hurt anything,” or “it’s not THAT bad, ” or “I’ll do better tomorrow.” But if you follow that logic every day, then a little turns into a lot and it will hurt. And it really could be THAT bad.
Or maybe, and very likely, it’s deeper than that. Maybe you eat from boredom. Maybe the belief that allows you to feed yourself so badly is, “It doesn’t matter anyway. Because I’m no good.” “I’m not worth it.” “I’ll never be happy anyway.” “Nobody really loves me.” And on and on. I bet you can fill in the blank.
So I came up with a set of guidelines, but not necessarily about what to eat and not eat. They’re more about how to think about your food and your relationship with it. They’re about how you live your life and how you perceive yourself. I believe that if you follow them consistently, with love and compassion, you can slowly, but surely, change your beliefs about yourself and how you feed your body and soul. You will eventually learn to eat the food you love, with love.
And here’s the other BIG THING. Eating isn’t something to be afraid or or ashamed of. Eating is how the earth nurtures and loves us. Eating connects us to the earth and to the flow of life taking place outside of our skin. If you want to truly live your life from a place of love (What does love long to do through me today?), it has to start at home, in your very own body. You have to apply it everywhere, including to the fundamental task of feeding yourself.
- Remember that change is a process. It’s taken a long time to acquire this physical and emotional baggage. Understand that it will take a while to work your way through it, too. It may be messy and you will probably slip up. Just notice when that happens. Be willing to be uncomfortable. The discomfort is an indication of the growth and change that’s happening.
- It ain’t all about the food. We’re not just physical beings. We have emotional and spiritual bodies, too. The physical food we put in our bodies represents memories, emotions, comfort, conditioning, and love. In order to get a handle on the food we’re eating, we have to understand why we’re eating it. We have to know what or whom we’re feeding. Ask yourself, who or what am I feeding? Also ask yourself, am I really hungry? Am I just thirsty? Decide if you’re really hungry for food or for something else, like affection, companionship, reassurance, etc.
- Be on your feet when you buy food, not in your car. For some people, this is the hardest guideline to follow, but also the most profound. It helps us to become attuned to the food we eat and allows us to begin an intimate relationship with the food that sustains us.
- Know what’s in your food, and make sure it really is food. If there’s a label on your food, this is a bit of a red flag that it may not be 100% real food. Only eat items that contain ingredients you understand and that you have an idea of where they came from (i.e., the ground, a tree, a farm, etc.).
- Treat your kitchen like the most sacred room in your home. Because in many ways, it is. This is where you store and prepare the food that sustains you and your family members’ lives. Make it a joyful place. For example, create a simple new house rule: No arguing in the kitchen.
- Give thanks for your food. Consciously, every time you eat. Many lives and labors come together to bring the food to your table. The farmers that grow it, the truck drivers that haul it, the merchants that sell it, and many times, the animal that gave its life. Acknowledge them before you partake of the gift they’ve given you. Eat the food you love, with love.
- Eat mindfully. Eating is a special occasion. When you sit down to a meal (and yes, I do mean to actually sit down at a table), turn off the TV and put down your phone. Notice the smells, colors, and texture, as well as the flavors. Eat the food you love, with love.
- Stop placing conditions on your own happiness. So you’re not the size you were in high school. You’re worth loving and you deserve to be happy. Buy the clothes you love in your current size, and wear them like a rock star. Go to the beach, dance, roller skate anyway. Whatever it is that brings you joy, do it anyway.
So the heart of these 8 guidelines is this: put a comma in your inner commentary, question the beliefs that allow you to do what you do, and ask yourself, “am I really eating the food I love, with love?” When you can do that, your whole life will begin to shift dramatically.
Start slowly. Read through the guidelines and decide which feels like you could start doing it successfully RIGHT NOW, and start TODAY.
When that one feels like part of you, then pick another. And keep going until you’re eating the food you love with love.
Oh, and call me if you could use a little help, encouragement, or support. Remember, that’s what I do. 267-638-8829