This is a rather difficult entry to write but I feel it is very important for myself, and perhaps for any who read it.
When we list the daily essentials of life there are several answers which come to mind: water, air, clothing, shelter, sleep, companionship and FOOD. We need to eat daily. In fact it takes only two weeks of food deprivation to die. TWO WEEKS.
Food comes in as many shapes and forms as people. We have many varying tastes and expectations. I personally can recount EVERYTHING I ate in Europe five years ago. I can also recount every food I have ever hated, loved, regretted and dreamed of trying. In short, food is integrally intertwined in our everyday life.
So, if we need food and think of it so much why is it treated among us as one of our greatest fears and burdens? Because it is connected to FEAR and more readily SHAME.
Once upon a time I studied chakras as part of my Avatar the Last Airbender study spree. (If interested, read here —–> POST) Charkras are believed to be energy sources along the spine beginning at the pelvic floor and extending to the crown of the head. The third chakra Manipura deals with willpower and is blocked by shame. Interesting fact, it is located in the STOMACH.
It wasn’t until recently I noticed this important connection between shame and the stomach. In my post several years ago I surmised, “(Our Stomach) is the center of self-confidence, personal drive and personal power. Another way to look at it is as our inner fire, or zeal which gives one the motivation to grow and progress.”
Here’s the trick. Anything good in our lives can become a burden if we disconnect from its true nature.
For example, what happens when we overeat? When we notice weight gain? We feel deep shame and food turns to something bad, ugly and the evil root of our problems.This often leads to eccentric dieting, or binge eating depending on our state of mind at the time. I can attest this line of thinking does not lead to a skinnier waist line or confidence. It is almost like becoming locked in a cycle of self-loathing, where we feel ashamed of who we are and our inability to control our appetites.
I also wrote in my article this interesting statement, “Shame is antithetical to confidence. It denotes a loss of self esteem and respect as well as humiliation and dishonor. These personal disappointments keep one locked in place, ashamed and lost.”
I have definitely felt lost in myself, unable to look beyond bodily imperfections. And how I feel physically is more often then not connected to how I see myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. My worth becomes a measurement and I frantically strive to pull myself back to the ideal body size.
And the enemy through all this? Food. Food becomes calories, carbs and sugars which we picture as future fat rolls and jiggling limbs. Food shines as our shame personified.
But is that what food actually is?
Do you know food’s definition? Google dictionary puts it thus:
Food: any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth
It is because of food we are alive. It is because of food we grew up as children with teeth and hair and all our bodily functions working. Any unhealthy perspective on food traps us within ourselves. So, myself included, we need to break from this hurtful way of thinking about food. Because FOOD IS ONE OF THE JOYS OF LIFE! I will say it again, food is one of the joys of life!
Food is NOT CALORIES. It is FUEL.
We need to stop punishing ourselves by eating junk rather then nutritious meals. We also need to stop punishing ourselves mentally for everything we have eaten before.
And most importantly, we need to reteach ourselves to enjoy eating.
Today I actually asked myself the question, “Aubrey do you enjoy eating?” Then came deeper questions: “That oatmeal you ate, are you happy after eating it? Do you enjoy drinking chicory tea? If you ate that pizza, would you actually like the taste? Dear, are you really tasting that chicken you put in your mouth just now, or are you too busy playing your game on your phone?”
I have to wonder what would happen if food became one of the sources of joy I had in my day. Honestly, food is part of life’s experience. Why not enjoy the journey? Now, this does not mean eating anything and everything I come in contact with. It is more about finding what my body needs and enjoys.
Therefore, instead of punishing myself with thoughts and ideals concerning food, I want to learn better self mastery and awareness. Russell M. Nelson stated in his talk “Decisions for Eternity” ,
God implanted strong appetites within us for nourishment and love, vital for the human family to be perpetuated.22 When we master our appetites within the bounds of God’s laws, we can enjoy longer life, greater love, and consummate joy.23
In mind I think of it this way. I can look at my personal weaknesses in eating and punish myself with hatred and shame. That, or I can nourish and love myself and step by step help myself love what I eat and how it makes me feel.
Because I love myself, I will not only eat well I hope to eat joyfully! Recording in my mind my daily vitals should become one of my favorite activities!