The art of mindfulness can transform our struggles with food — and renew our sense of pleasure, appreciation and satisfaction with eating.~Jan Bays
This is a personal story of my disordered relationship with food and my own healing. When I wrote this a year ago, I thought:
There is absolutely no way I’m sharing this so openly and publicly. Especially since I’ve had such transformation over the past few months and now feel healed of this struggle. This is a closed chapter.”
Now, I think, that’s even more the reason to share.
My intention in telling you the details of my experience is so perhaps you will find the courage to inquire about your own relationship with food.
When we’re able to cultivate a deeper awareness with eating, we will also begin to wholeheartedly nurture ourselves and pay attention to other areas of our life.
In 2012, for health reasons, I needed to eliminate gluten and dairy from my diet.
I needed to, so I chose to. It wasn’t a life or death in the strictest sense–my diagnosis with an auto-immune disease did not require me to make any dietary change–but after trying it out for a brief period, I realized that diet did have an effect on my condition.
But food is controversial. People who omit things from their diet are suspect. Some people point out some research factoid they’ve read that says that diet doesn’t make a difference. Others say, condescendingly, that gluten-free is “just a fad.”
The biggest rub? That giving up certain foods would drain the joy out of life. Since I could continue to eat gluten or dairy and still mostly, basically, pretty-much get through life, then: How could I give up bread? Cheese? Ice-cream?
A friend of mine invited my husband and I to her home for dinner and told us how to she’d already gotten sick and fall hadn’t even started. My husband, who struggles with staying well, can always relate. We started chatting with her about strategies to avoid getting sick.
So often we feel like our health is out of our hands. I know I’ve been guilty of being annoyed at the coworkers who show up in the office while they’re ill or someone with a chronic cough sits behind me on the bus. Great, I think. Now I’m going to get sick.
But I rarely do. And if I come down with something, I bounce back within a day.
So now that fall has begun and we’re venturing closer to some of the busiest and most stressful times of the year, I’d like to suggest a few things that you can do, things that you’re in control of, to avoid using sick days.
This article details my recent adventure into how to lose weight fast. Even if you are not interested in losing weight, check it out. There are some useful thoughts on the power of self image embedded within.
Losing weight is hard.” ~me
“Anything worth having in life is hard.” ~my husband
I admit it. I am not the most active person. I sit for more than 8 hours a day, and actually prefer to sit than stand, and drive rather than walk. To say that I am adverse to exercise is an understatement. In fact, the last time I visited a gym was over three years ago, for a burst of about 5 days, around New Years.
I always took for granted the gift of my tiny frame, Asian genes and fast metabolism. I was, for most of my life, naturally skinny. To the outside, my body gave the illusion that I was fit.
Can you recall the last time you were really angry at someone? So much so that you were physically shaken just at the thought of them? Rarely does this feeling of anger help us in getting what we want. Often, it will work against us, resulting in more pain, unnecessarily.
Even the most gentle of personalities can temporarily turn into a vindictive rascal, if pushed far enough.
A friend of mine is going through a divorce with a spouse who is unreasonably prolonging the process. He’s sad, hurt, upset, frustrated and very, very angry. Words of anger and hatred spout out of his – otherwise polite and thoughtful – mouth. He was no longer his authentic and peaceful self. And he didn’t like who he was becoming.
Through helping him come to a place of understanding and forgiveness of his ex-spouse with love, compassion and humility (we had to dig deep), I realized that the same tools can be used in dealing with other negative emotions.
For sake of simplicity, we will use anger as the target emotion to overcome. Keep in mind that it can be applied to overcome other non-conducive and intense emotions such as jealousy, guilt, hatred, regret and fear.
What would you say if I told you that meat and dairy consumption are associated with heart disease, cancer and diabetes? Or if I told you that the meat industry kills more than 10 billion animals a year, in the US alone, and contributes more toward pollution than the exhaust from all the cars in the world?
For the past few weeks, I’ve been researching the health benefits of vegetarian diets, to gain more clarity on the topic. Due to its controversial nature, this has been a topic which I’ve avoided, until now. What I learned shook me both emotionally and intellectually.
I am not here to cast judgment on what you eat or how you live your life, but rather to present you with the information that I’ve discovered and find valuable. Knowledge is a powerful energy which gives us the gift of understanding, through which, we are empowered to make more informed decisions that benefit our wellbeing and benefit the world we live in.
I predict that some of you may be feeling an urge to be defensive, and that’s okay. I totally understand. When that happens, take a deep breath and remember that I am just a messenger. Hear me out.
Over the holiday break, I traveled back to Canada to visit my parents. Since I don’t watch TV at home, I decided I would indulge my senses and watch a little. “Hey, it’s the break. Relax, let it loose and watch all those shows I miss out on.” At the end of two weeks, I was an addict. I sat and watched so many random shows that I’m embarrassed just thinking about it.
Coming from a life where the TV never gets used, I found that the change in me was swift and noticeable. My holiday daily routine went something like this: sleep in, lazily walk into the kitchen looking for food, turn on the TV to see what’s on while I eat, watch TV for several hours, spend some time with my family, eventually return to the TV and watch for several more hours.
At the end, I felt so drained and tired. Even with knowing how it made me feel, I continued to repeat this each day until the day I left. Like I was under a magical spell. What’s worst, after coming home, I downloaded all the missed episodes of Tila Tequila’s ‘Shot at Love’ and watched them. Even knowing that it was trash for my mind, I did it anyway.
When you were a child, you may have been told to “Stand up straight!” or “Don’t slouch!” from your parents and teachers. I remember when I was younger, my mother would poke my back out of nowhere to remind me to stand up straight. I hated this as a teen and was determined to rebel for no reason other than to be stubborn and go against what I was told. My purposeful slouching eventually turned into a habit and carried with me into adulthood.
Now that I’m older, I understand why my mother was so insistent. My poor posture now makes me feel:
Pain in my back and shoulders.
I am breathing shallowly.
I appeared to lack self confidence.
Energy was not flowing efficiently throughout my body. I was often tired.
It made me look and feel weak.
I have spent much time correcting the damage, and undeveloped muscles, from my rebellious teen years. Like any habit, breaking bad posture can be a challenge, but definitely doable with some attention and practice.
Many of us may like to improve our posture, but we often don’t know how, or where to start.
Let me just start by saying that I loved my cup of ‘Grande Soy Latte’. But, I didn’t like how it made me feel after the ‘kick’ worn off. I live in Seattle, the home of Starbucks, where coffee culture is BIG, and coffee shops are sprinkled on every street corner. Every day, I walk past seven coffee shops on my short eight-minute walk to the office. Deciding to quit was a personally challenging one, and I am very proud to announce that I’ve been ‘clean’ for 8 months.
Caffeine can be a sneaky little pick-me-up. I hated how it made me feel afterwards and how much I was dependent on it. Here are other reasons why I decided to quit:
I was sweating more.
I would get nervous for no reason.
I would feel dehydrated
I felt mentally “numb,” less sensitive to my surroundings, less intuitive and less creative
It was hard to truly relax and be calm.
Headaches from lack of caffeine.
I saw my friend hospitalized from too much coffee on a regular basis.
I learned that coffee is highly acidic (I’ll cover acidity and alkalinity in food in another post)
Caffeine masks both our true physical and emotional states. Giving my body a false boost of energy made it harder for me to tell what I really needed: more food, more sleep, more calmness?
So, I decided to end my eight year ‘love affair’ with coffee (who I ‘saw’ at least twice daily). How did I do it? The answer lay in restructuring my habits. I started with staying off coffee for two weeks, and then another two weeks, which eventually turned into eight months.