As a teen I had an eating disorder. I prided myself on my 89 pound weight throughout high school. My classmates praised me. I loved my size zero jeans, but I was miserable. Much of my life revolved around food. I denied myself the pure joy of eating.
To this day I struggle with food.
But this isn’t just me. We live in a culture that has denied itself the true joy of food. We worry about fat, fiber content, calories, gluten, sustainability, pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, etc. etc. to the point that many of us can’t eat without feeling guilty. Being mindful of our food is good in and of itself, but I know (at least for myself) I feel bombarded with “shoulds” when it comes to eating….and well, I’ve forgotten how to eat well.
I have a hunch that most of the eating disorders today are rooted in the mixed messages we’re given about food. We’re taught to use it as a mood stabilizer, a tool for self flagellation, or a means of controlling others and ourselves. And we’ve forgotten how to eat…how to love food for it’s essence…for the life that it gives us.
I admit, I like donuts and will eat the occasional hot dog off the roller grill at 7-11. Whether I will die an early death from the sugar, sodium, gluten or processed meat, or suffer for my poor karmic choices, I don’t know. All I know is that when I tuck the guilt away, slow down, and allow myself to take pleasure in my food, happiness and joy always follow.
So today, as an experiment, here’s my suggestion: take a moment to sip your drink a little slower, eat your sandwich, salad, donut, or hot dog with a little more awareness, or simply savor the sensation of an apple as it crunches in your teeth. Enjoy the food for what it is and what it gives you. This may not solve all your problems, make you thin like a super model, or alter the course of humanity, but it might, just might, put a smile on your face.