October 25, 2013

Licensed to Eat. ~ Agnes Gardener

Feeling Like a Secret Agent When Eating Out or Shopping for Food.

It’s as if I have some highly confidential information that most nobody else around me has. Which I confess, I do. I know that food is not a bad thing, it is not any kind of enemy, and there’s nothing wrong with my wanting to eat anything nor with actually eating it.

Top secret!

I know when I sit down to my meal or walk into the supermarket that I’m doing it in a body that is perfectly capable of maintaining its ideal weight and shape. It asks for nothing more than it needs: it makes me select foods that are fairly good for it, it makes me want to be physically active in ways that keep it fit, and it lets me be concerned with other things in my life most of the time.

It is also the privilege of a secret agent not to have to care for the usual stuff other people have their heads full of, so I don’t have calorie charts, special diets, allowed and restricted food lists or timetables for eating memorized. I don’t remember my blood type and I could, if I wished to, forget about my astrological sign. These are easily accessible pieces of information—a secret agent has no use for them.

I am licensed to go out and eat, blindly trusting my instincts. But who gave me such a license?

It took me a long time to finish the training and get qualified.

I went through all the usual phases when I wanted to lose weight: the restrictions, the self-denial, the hunger, the craving, the bingeing, the self-starvation, the strong self-control, the broken self-control, the self-hatred, the mindless fads, the getting expert in the science of eating, the getting way too deep into the emotional meaning of eating—nothin’ doin’.

My body wasn’t being a partner in all of this.

It didn’t want to be ruled by power and it didn’t want to listen to persuasion.

And then I thought: I can relate to that! It’s just familiar to me, I never liked to be bossed around like that. I know exactly how that feels, how that makes me underperform.

To feel that I could be better than this, only nobody wants it from me. To feel that the things wanted from me are alien to me, to be done with gritted teeth, to be given with a shrug: If that’s what you want, let’s see how you like it. To feel that I have a place and role in the world, a way I can fit into things, and this is something that I know better that anyone else around me, and if only they’d let me be.

Maybe it was the same for my body, I thought. Maybe it’s because it knows better.

Maybe I should be the one listening to it, I should be the one following the ways it chooses for me.

Maybe I didn’t need a license from anything in here or anyone out there for this basic function of my body, of my life.

And that was it. That was the thought I chose to follow wherever it wanted to take me. Over the course of less than a year, my body learned its new freedom and started to do its job perfectly, and I learned to trust it and started to enjoy my freedom of doing the things that were my job.

So that’s what I do. Living and loving, working and playing, taking walks, taking care of the people and things I care for. But in the place where I would be worrying about food and what it does to my body, I now have ease and joy, the feeling of nothing needs to be done. I am on this secret mission that is so secret it is the lack of a mission, the one I used to have, most of us usually have.

I can still think back on how it was and see the difference from how it is now. I can trace my path from there to here in words. But how I made that change happen or how the change made itself happen to me, I cannot fully understand.

Really, I’m licensed, for this part of my life, to need no licenses. Where else will this take me? Are you coming along?


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Assistant Ed: Judith Andersson / Ed: Catherine Monkman

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