Unfortunately, most women spend their days juggling many roles, conflicting commitments and the wants and needs of others. Often we come last, if there’s time. The temptation to reach for food as comfort or distraction can be overwhelming; although the issue is rarely about food — more times than not, the underlying force is emotion. Eating emotionally can become a way of life and extra pounds an unwanted result.
Compulsive eating, or not eating, is a way we distance ourselves from a reality we don’t want to face, when life is different than how we long for it to be. I know this to be true. As a younger woman desperate to be thin, I tried numerous diets, only to gain and lose a combined total of 1,900 pounds over a ten-year period of my life.
Dieting is a 60 billion dollar a year industry in our country — could something be terribly wrong?
It has been reported that 95 to 98 percent of all the weight lost in the United States is gained back in a year to a year and a half — often with even more weight added on. Diets don’t work because they are based on inadequacy and shame. Diets imply there is something wrong with us and that we need fixing. Fear, inadequacy and shame are not respectable motivators and willpower and deprivation are not sustainable behavioral plans. Rather, healing must come from a deeper level than the problem of undesirable weight or unwanted eating habits.
Healing means embracing what is most feared and opening to what has been closed. Healing means surrendering to what lies beneath the tyranny of diets and control. It means remembering with awareness what we have forgotten about living our lives authentically and compassionately. We are not broken and we are not to blame. We have simply lost our way.
To begin the healing process means releasing the compulsion to “fix” ourselves with thinness and choosing to believe in our wholeness, our goodness, our true self just as we are. We must begin to dismantle the myth of perfection and let go of the ties it has on our lives. By embracing mindfulness and the practice of mindful living, by learning to eat mindfully and intuitively, we will not only heal our own relationship with food, it will be life-changing.
Eating Mindfully — the key to a healthy relationship with oneself and food.
Eating mindfully is our path toward uncovering who lives beneath the voice of the disordered behavior. We are not creating a new, healthy person or putting this person back together again. We are, instead, dismantling…taking apart who we think we are…making room for a new story, a more loving and nurturing story.
The most challenging part of any program that addresses weight-related issues is that, unless it is founded upon understanding and accepting the part of you that wants something you can’t name — the heart of our deepest longing — it will fail. There is an entire world between the moment we feel empty, bored or angry – and turn towards or away from food to deal with these uncomfortable or frightening feelings.
True and lasting change must occur at a level deeper than our thoughts about dieting and self image. With inquiry, compassion and acceptance, we learn to understand what motivates our eating habits. With forgiveness, learning and love, we become able to change our relationship with food. Freedom from food obsessions and control is not an action; it is a state of being — a state of knowing and accepting who we are and being fully present to each moment.
Mindfulness and mindful living is our key to healing the body, mind, emotions and spirit. When we allow ourselves to bring a mindful, compassionate and forgiving heart to our circumstances — whatever they may be — then we have begun the journey back to ourselves and to deep healing. And it is only here, in full self-acceptance, that we can find our path once again — and live a life of authenticity, wellness, purpose and joy.
Mindfulness is bringing a focused awareness to the present moment, non-judgmentally; it is noticing both internal processes and external environments. It is being aware of thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations in the moment; cultivating freedom from reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. Mindfulness is creating balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.
Mindful eating is respecting our own inner wisdom; choosing food that is both pleasing and nourishing by using all of our senses to savor and enjoy food without judgment, and learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide our decision to begin eating and to stop eating.