We are a distracted bunch that can’t just be alone with ourselves.
In Geneen Roth’s book “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating,” she talks about stepping away from the distractions and just being with ourselves while consuming food and nourishing our bodies. She suggests “for one meal–only one–decide that you won’t watch TV or read or work, and watch what happens.”
This suggestion could be used in a multitude of different contexts, like when I walk Stella or when I am talking to a family member. But food is an emotionally charged subject that many of us would rather not be fully conscious of.
Our culture has rules surrounding food: some foods are bad and others are good. In turn, when consuming said food a person seemingly turns into a villain or a hero, being bad or good depending on whether they had chocolate that day.
As humans, we want what we can’t have.
When we are being “bad” and eating a slice of cake, many times we want to hide or rush through eating that cake. By eating our “bad” food while standing up or distracted, we are fooling ourselves into thinking that we are not truly eating it. This, however, has the adverse effect. We are not enjoying the richness and the sweetness of the slice of cake. But we are eating it all the same, and probably more than what we actually intuitively want. In performing the simple act of sitting down and eating by yourself, the relationship with food can make profound shifts.
When I was in Italy with my husband on our honeymoon, we really were able to experience the joy in everyday life. I came to realize quickly, that when surrounded by people who uniformly move through life at a slower pace, it can seep in, or it will make you go crazy. Andrew and I preferred the former.
We were able to take long lunches and enjoy the decadent experience that taking time afforded us. I enjoyed food that I normally would have never allowed myself to have–pizza, pasta, wine, bread. This was my first adult experience with intuitive eating. I wanted to be part of the culture, so I changed my behavior. At least until I went back to the states.
I believe that was the start of my budding intrigue with intuitive eating. But being an intuitive eater, I soon began learning a lot about myself, not just with food but on a deeper more intimate level. From my place of perfectionism and an eating disordered past, this was extremely uncomfortable for me. In a previous post (LINK) I discuss my inclination of force, constantly trying to get that round peg into a square hole.
Through intuitive eating, a window has been opened for me–of acceptance, and allowing myself to just be myself. I’m beginning to understand what works for me, even if it is not what the cool kids are doing, or what I thought I was “supposed” to be doing. I’m listening to my body on an organic and purely human level. I am getting to know what I like, and what makes me feel the best. I get that I have “hungrier” days, and that it is not a fault of mine, it just is what it is.
But I’m also getting to know myself on a higher emotional level too. Knowing that I tend to eat more when I feel lonely and that has given me power. I now have a list of things that I do to make myself feel better, without food. Although finding comfort in food is something that we learn early on in life, cookies were the key to making us feel better when we were upset.
Emotional eating was something that I pretended I never did, even to myself, because I felt a lot of shame about it. I felt that I should be stronger, have more willpower and not let emotions dictate my eating. I wanted to hold on tight to that perfect image of myself.
I never would have thought that by starting this intuitive eating quest, I would learn so much about myself. And allowing the true me to come out and play has been refreshing. My intuitive eating quest has now morphed into just an intuitive quest. Getting to know myself, listening to my thoughts, and just being with myself has brought a lot of joy into my life. It has allowed me to live more freely and more passionately with less emotional turmoil.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for me. But just eating my meals and snacks by myself with no distractions has opened a whole new world of truth and freedom for me.
At the end of the day, my wish for you is acceptance–even the not-so-sexy parts of you. That does not mean that you have to stay the way you are. It doesn’t mean you cannot change or achieve greater things. Acceptance, in my definition, means to allow yourself to be. To accept the place in which you are standing right now and be OK with it.