I went to a "meeting" last night—to protect the innocent, I won't say which one or where, but suffice it to say it was for people who have issues with food, eating, and the effects of food excesses on the body. It's no secret to readers of this blog that I've had more than my share of those issues since an early age, when I was urged, as a little one, to "Eat everything on your plate so you'll grow up to be big and strong"...only to discover, when I was 10, that—according to the same adults who once found my large appetite to be so cute—I was eating too much, and would surely grow up to be big and weak.
To sum up what I heard at the meeting: some people get obsessed with food and eating to the point of unhappiness and ill health, and this is called "food addiction." A way to control the addictive urge to eat "red light" foods, and to overeat in general, is to consume only specific foods, to weigh and measure them with precision, and never to stray from this, not even on your birthday when everyone else is enjoying your birthday cake. If you want dominion over the addiction, you intend to follow this plan for the rest of your life, one day at a time.
In this particular group, which has stricter guidelines than similar groups, food choices are in the control of a sponsor who tells the sponsee exactly what to eat. This is done because "We [group members] admit we are powerless over food." There is also a huge emphasis in this program about weight loss; it seems that success on the plan is measured not simply in "abstinent" days, but in the amount of weight lost and kept off. (I wonder how this works for slender people with food issues.)
Actually, I'm on a regimen myself at the moment that is...well, regimented. There's a list of foods I can choose from (it's quite extensive but not all-encompassing), which may be prepared only in specific combinations...certain foods that are verboten (grains, sugar, red meat, shellfish, nuts, table salt, coffee, black tea)...and all are to be eaten in weighed-and-measured amounts, on the small side but perfectly adequate for complete adult nutrition. The food is also prepared with a minimum of fat, no heavy sauces, excessive condiments or spices, so that the natural flavors and textures of the food can be fully experienced. It is also recommended to eat without drinking or talking during the meal, and to chew each bite to liquid (at least 22 times) before swallowing.
Following this plan—which I will do for awhile and see how it goes (so far, so good; I feel great; joint pain is remarkably reduced, and my ADD seems to have disappeared)—certainly makes life easier, unless I think I need regular ingestion of vegetable tempura or lobster risotto in order to be happy. No choices about amounts, and fewer choices about what I'm going to eat, means less headroom taken up by thoughts of food. I've come to see that I spend a good portion of my day thinking about (or obsessing over), shopping for, preparing and eating meals...time I could be using to write articles, work on my business, watch movies, or do The Work.
But am I powerless over food? I don't see how that is possible. I'm not addicted to food; I'm addicted to my thoughts about food. Thoughts like, "I need more food." I inquired into that concept the other day and discovered that this has never been true for me; it can never be true, and yet I have believed it all my life and used it as a justification for eating more than I actually want to.
As I've watched my addictive tendencies around food and eating, I've discovered that my core addiction is to the future. Wanting more of something—be it food, sex, dope, money, attention, time on the internet—is not a present-tense story; it's about wanting comfort, security, and pleasure. Wanting more means forgetting what's happening in the moment; I'm already concerned with the next moment, and with the point where what's in front of me is gone, so I miss what's in front of me. As a result, I eat too fast and don't experience taste and fullness; I load my fork for the next mouthful, not giving the current mouthful my full attention. In following this program, I've come to see that the next mouthful is not my business; when I'm eating mindfully, I don't miss the fulfillment of this one that I'm chewing now. As a result, I don't need as much food as I previously thought, and I'm appreciating and being intimate with the food I have.
As for weight loss, it's been happening, and yet this is not where it's at for me at the moment. I welcome a lighter body as a bonus, because there is less encumbrance, less physical pain, easier breathing, more energy...and I see that I have been unkind to this body to have ever seen it as unworthy, unattractive, or less than perfect. Body-condemnation is an ego-trip of the worst kind; a false sense of self in which there is no recognition of one's true nature. Love has no problem living in a fat body, a skeletal body, an old body, a body that's ill or misshapen or missing parts. The only time a fat body is a problem is when I project that it is hateful and I identify as a hateful object.
Byron Katie once told me, "There's nothing you can do to lose [or gain] weight." That goes against scientific evidence to the contrary, but this is not about science; it's about eating in a way that feels closer to Source. When we touch Source, there are many things that we used to think we needed that we see we no longer need. This doesn't mean that we don't exercise, lose or gain weight, sleep, feed the body healthy foods in healthy amounts. It's like the story about a monk who for many years meditated and meditated, prayed and prayed for a vision of the Divine Mother, until one day he realized he was That and didn't need the vision. That was the day the Goddess came to bless him.
©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.