Food is LOVE.
Hello my beautiful friends. I had a total “aha” moment today when I was having breakfast. (Well…seeing as it was 3pm I guess it was brunch). I’ll explain the events before it as well to give you a better idea of how it all went down.
I slept in and woke up super hungry, but also unsettled from a stress dream I was having. I rushed to feed the cats because they were all yelling at me, then I went back to my room and took my time to meditate so I could clear my mind and start my day on a positive note. (When I wake up feeling unsettled and don’t take some time to meditate it usually snowballs into a not-so-nice day.) Then, Scampi crawled on to my chest and started being really cute and cuddly, so I spent some time with him even though all I could think about was eating. I was even hungrier now, so I rushed around making a juice and preparing my food, not even realizing I was accumulating stress along the way. By the time I sat down to eat I was even hungrier, and all I wanted to do was gobble down everything I’d made as fast as possible. I felt unsettled, stressed, my heart was beating fast and I was all tingly in my arms and legs. My feet were flexed and one hand was in a ball while the other was gripping my glass of juice anxiously waiting for the gunshot to start the race to finish my food.
Normally I wouldn’t even notice those feelings because I’ve gotten so used to it. However, I’ve been reading a book by Jessica Ortner called “Tapping for Weight Loss and Body Confidence”, and I remembered reading that that we essentially “eat” the way we feel. (If we feel guilt when we eat, the guilt “sticks” to our bodies causing us to hold on to extra weight and our bodies not to process the food properly. When we’re stressed, we release cortisol, a hormone that can cause weight gain). In the book, she recommends taking three deep breaths before eating, to become aware of your feelings before you eat. When I did this, I noticed my deep feelings of guilt, fear, shame, and disappointment with myself as I was about to eat. I felt the need to rush through it because it was such an unpleasant experience. This wasn’t new; I realized that I always kind of felt like that before I ate. Jessica recommends tapping through the feelings you are having, as a way to calm your nervous system and allow you to think clearly. I hadn’t done the tapping before eating before and I was a bit nervous, but I’ve done it at other times and have gotten great results so I decided to give it a shot. Since my last blog post, I’ve also been even more inspired to dig deeper into my relationship with food and my body and share my journey.
For those of you who have never heard of tapping, you tap your fingers on energy meridians on your upper body (similar to acupuncture points) and they calm your “fight or flight” response to stress. You tap through negative feelings and allow yourself to give them a voice while you tap, calming your body down so you no longer associate those feelings with the stress. When you feel calmer, you can continue to tap while saying more positive things, ending the whole experience on a positive note. I swear it’s been changing my life. So, I went into the tapping, starting with a set up statement: “Even though I feel stressed out and rushed to eat, I love and accept myself”. After repeating that two more times, I started tapping on the meridian points while saying the exact things that were stressing me out. I didn’t censor myself, nor did I judge, I just let myself vent. It was surprising the things that came out when my body was in the calmed state, things that I didn’t even know I was feeling. Throughout the tapping I felt a rollercoaster of emotions when difficult and painful thoughts arose. It felt very uncomfortable at times, and I wanted to stop, but I kept reminding myself that the feelings were coming up to be healed and so that I could let them go.
I learned that because I’ve always longed to be thinner, I’d been subconsciously viewing food as an enemy. I learned that I had so many distorted thoughts running rampant in my mind. If I ate anything at all, it would just be more weight on me, and I’d be disappointed in myself for not trying hard enough. I felt that I didn’t need to eat, that I could survive without food because I had more than enough weight on me, so eating anything was just a luxury. Since I’m a perfectionist, the “perfect” situation would be me eating nothing at all until I lost the weight that I wanted to. I didn’t think about what I’d do when I reached that weight, but I felt that I needed to punish myself while I was eating in hopes that it would stop me from eating again. These are the same thoughts that must have fueled my eating disorder, the same feelings that caused me to starve myself and/or binge and purge. I’m grateful that I was able to stop doing those things, because they were killing me, but it was interesting to see that the thoughts were still there, keeping me from being free and actually enjoying food. I also thought back to my childhood while tapping and found myself in more pain, remembering all the negative words, anger, guilt and fear surrounding food, and continuous judgment about body size and shape. I had no idea that I was carrying all of that. No wonder I felt stressed out and on edge every time I was about to eat.
I continued tapping, and after quite some time, the negative feelings began to dissipate and I felt myself bathed in peace, calm, and light. I saw and finally understood the birth-life-death cycle as a whole and how everything in the Universe is connected. Living things (plants and animals) give their life to keep me alive, and in turn I affect the lives of other beings in the world. When I die, I go back to the Earth and feed other beings that continue to grow and prosper. Eating is actually a miraculous experience when looked at it in that way. Food is truly a blessing, it nourishes my body and keeps it healthy and functioning. I don’t have to punish myself and feel guilty to stop me from eating again, because it’s necessary always to eat again if I want to continue living. I realized that feeling guilty for eating is like feeling guilty for breathing. It put everything in perspective for me. I was able to let go of negativity from my past as well, and understand why I felt the way I did. This gave me the opportunity to choose new thoughts, and let go of the old ones that no longer were serving me. It was definitely challenging to tap through my pain, and it was tempting to just forget about it and quickly devour the food in front of me that would have been a temporary fix. I might have even gotten into chocolate or other yummy things to continue to distract me, because I still felt unsettled and the guilt was too much to bear. It’s amazing how this one simple thing I tried made such a difference.
When I opened my eyes from the tapping process, I felt my spirit had shifted. It was as if I was seeing food for the first time, with awe and love, instead of hate and guilt. I drank my juice first, and instead of forcing it down quickly like a shot of crappy tequila, I took my time and allowed it to coat my tongue, basking in all the flavours. I was aware, I was focused, my mind was calm, and I felt joy and gratitude. I’d never tasted my juice like that before, and I felt good about all the vitamins and nutrients that were going to my body. As I continued to eat, I felt the same way. Tasting each bite, taking my time, noticing how the flavours complemented each other, feeling connected and grateful. I only ended up eating half my meal as well, not because I felt guilty that it was too much food, but because I allowed the time for my body to tell me it was full. Usually I’ll force down all the food on my plate because I’m just trying to get rid of it, and eating too fast for my body to recognize that it’s full. (In the book, it says that your body takes 20 minutes to recognize it’s full.) After I ate, I was in such a better mood than I usually am. I didn’t feel guilty or disgusting as I have in the past, I felt content, energized, and ready to move on with my day.
I’m telling you all this story because I want to inspire and motivate you all to feel a closer connection with what you eat. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. People continue to struggle with health problems and weight issues, but not many are willing to take responsibility for what goes in their bodies. It seems easier to take drugs or just continue to suffer and point the blame instead of trying to find the root cause, or make changes. I’m not judging those people, I’m only saying it to raise awareness on this subject, having dealt with it at a personal level. My mom died in 2009 of ovarian cancer, and at the time I knew nothing about nutrition nor was even remotely interested in it. I thought it was something that just was, something that was out of my control, not really important. I always wish that I had the knowledge I do now to have helped her back then, because she may still be alive today, but I realized that her death happened for a reason, and it was something that inspired me to become so passionate about health and nutrition. Being aware of what food I put in my body is also a blessing that came from struggling with eating disorders all those years. Educating myself about foods that nourish and heal my body, and foods/chemicals that cause damage to my body helped me learn to feel safe eating again.
I know it seems a daunting task to change the way you think about food and start looking at labels and being aware of what goes in your body. It doesn’t mean throwing out everything in your kitchen and only drinking wheatgrass and eating raw vegan food. It doesn’t mean depriving yourself of pizza and ice cream, chips and chocolate. It only means taking small steps to choose food more wisely from now on, and celebrating successes along the way. Notice how different foods make you feel – what gives you energy? What makes you feel tired, depressed, or sick? Try to read labels and if you don’t understand the ingredients maybe it’s better to try something else. Try to eat foods from the Earth instead of foods made in a lab. Don’t be bummed out when you find out the snack you loved for years has MSG in it and you have to give it up – be thankful that you can find a new snack to love that’s better for you. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to explore – there’s a plethora of amazing things out there for you to uncover. Read about it online. Get interested about what’s going in your body. For me, it’s been a journey that’s lasted years and years, a journey that is still continuing. Each day, however, as I learn more and more, I strengthen my relationship with food and my body and find more peace within myself. I hope the same for each and every one of you.
Leave me a comment and let me know how you feel about food. Are you aware of what goes in your body? Do you read labels? Eat organic food? I’d love to help and offer support in any way that I can. Also, join my mailing list for weekly words of inspiration, love, and other goodies from my heart to yours, I’d love to have you.
Love yourself first. Everything else will follow.