I have decided that how I eat is just as important as what I eat.
When I was using food as a drug to numb the pain and run from my reality there were always a few things that drove how I consumed food. Shame was the most powerful. Somewhere inside I knew that a super morbidly obese person should not be eating the quantity of food I was consuming so when I ate, it was fast, devouring the items as feverishly as I could, never tasting, never enjoying any of it, only thinking ahead to what I would eat next. The poison was not cocaine or heroin coursing through my veins, it was a fast food junkies lament that tore through my cravings and left me holding a paper sack, staring at a neon blinking hell of “HOT doughnuts now” , and I was left super-sized for only a mere dollar more. It was so abusive and such a cycle of self hatred, that only now can I begin to see the truth of how I was behaving with food. Many times sneaking and chewing feverishly trying to beat getting caught as someone walked in the room, or the elevator door opened or I stood in the bathroom stall hoping no one would hear the rattle of the candy bar papers as I shoved them in my mouth. There is no enjoyment what so ever when you eat like that, it is a compulsion at that point, and many times I ate until I was sick, punishment for being so fat in the first place. I hated myself.
I often quote Thich Nhat Hanh in my blog, who is one of the most respected advocates of peace and human rights, a zen master and one heck of a poet, who has amazing things to share in his book, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life he connects the dots for me in regards to why I should be eating differently, I highly recommend it! One of the things I have been working on is being better at not eating when I am not in the moment. So often I am eating something, chewing away only to realize I am not really aware I am eating at all, not enjoying it and certainly not experiencing the food as anything more than a nervous habit. How can that possibly nourish me at all? It can’t. It is that recognition and being conscience of what I am doing in the moment that makes the difference. If I am eating the ripest, juiciest peach I am going to have all summer I do not want that experience to be at my desk answering e-mails and trying to crunch numbers as I shove the fruit in my mouth not noticing any of the flavors, textures or colors that are available to me if I just slow down and pay attention.
I want to be aware of what I am eating, why I am eating it and to be thankful for what I have in front of me. I don’t always succeed but I am learning everyday how to get better at being a mindful eater and not a mindless consumer of food. I have a sweet tooth and I have written about this many times, it has been all about quantity for me, so in the beginning of the dog-lbs project it was how much could I get for my calories? More, more, more was the focus, and now I am beginning to fully understand the idea of moderation and quality and not quantity. We have an incredible chocolate/candy company in town called Esther Price, they have been around forever and I have grown up eating their…well, everything. Chocolate Easter eggs, caramel bars, opera cremes, turtles, truffles, and everything else they make, it is responsible for my entire left thigh! They now sell small packs that have two little turtle candies in them…one dark and one light chocolate, they have a total of 155 calories. I enjoyed one pack tonight, but I did not eat it on the go, nor did I gobble them up while watching TV or listening to the ballgame.
I got a real plate and laid them out, poured a glass of water in a fancy wine glass with a few fresh raspberries and went outside where the sun was just about to give up for the day and the big orange ball began sinking into the horizon. The dogs were playing and it was quiet, still and peaceful. I ate the chocolate slowly, letting each bite melt on my tongue as the bittersweet sensation danced all around in my mouth. I would sip the raspberry water in between bites and I named out loud 5 things I was grateful for today. It took me 30 minutes to eat two little pieces of chocolate tonight. It has taken me 30 years to learn that it is totally worth savoring…
Eating mindfully is a practice that will help us understand who we are. Without mindfulness in our daily life, we may not be able to discover the peace and happiness that is already in us.
-Thich Nhat Hanh