October 3, 2013

When Did Eating Become Such a Struggle? ~ Claudia Richey

Food. The four letter word.

There, I said it.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Food as the nemesis. How many of us are trying to lose weight, dealing with sensitivities, or just plain eating healthy, and get tangled up in the ever changing diet environment? Losing your way in the maze is the easiest thing to do. Finding a beacon of light that guides you home can seem impossible, yet so hopeful.

Truthfully, the conflicting information around what to eat and what not to eat changes every day. If you spend time on your favorite social media channel you will come across new findings, old findings revoked, innovative new inventions, and the most outrageous new food scandals. You probably wouldn’t be able to get away from it if you tried.

When has a thing as natural as eating food become such a big deal, such a big controversy? You have vegans fighting with carnivores. Paleo followers scrutinizing raw foodies. Sometimes in a militant way.

Have you ever noticed how true followers of a certain path can get downright militant around expressing their views around nutrition? We are not talking about religious wars here, yet the intensity can be quite the same.

Food wars. Nutrition wars.

We’ve become so pre-occupied, so obsessed with what we eat that we forget to pay attention to how we eat.

There is a common sense factor in how we eat:

Stay away from GMO foods. They will kill you, eventually, and every living organism involved in the process. That’s just it.

If you are allergic or sensitive to certain foods, stay away from them. If you deal with an illness that gets worse with eating certain foods, stay away from it. It shouldn’t be that difficult. These are just common factors.

But then we take it to the extreme. Having heated discussions around meat or no meat. Carbs or no carbs. What about fats? And the coffee pooped out by squirrels (the animal is actually the Common Palm Civet, a weasel like animal) in Indonesia that’s the best brew you can have for breakfast?

Arguments around how much is too much and how little is still enough.

With all this conflicting information we are not even regarding the poor lost soul who is morbidly obese and has no idea where to even start because its just too much. It all has become too difficult.

Now food hurts. Eating injures us, on a spirit level. How did we let it get this far?

There are approaches that go back many thousands of years that tell you to eat when you are hungry. To stop eating before you are over full. They tell you to listen to your body and eat what your body wants you to eat. Your body, not your mind—your messed up mind that has too much information clutter in it to make a decision that will feed you, pun intended.

Do we even know when we are hungry? Most of us don’t. We’ve been trained to eat everything that’s on our plates, this goes back to war times and poverty, yet we are still hanging on to the behavior.

We’ve been trained to eat seven meals a day if we want to lose weight. Way to go to teach your body to burn food instead of fat. Not even thinking about your poor digestive system that never gets a chance to not overwork consistently.

It’s exhausting!

When was the last time you were hungry? Felt truly hungry, that empty sensation in your tummy, a growling, a hollow feeling that is almost pleasant. You anticipate your next meal, your mouth starts watering. That kind of hunger. The good healthy kind of hunger.

You know you can go days without eating before you get sick and die, right? So what’s the constant rush, always stuffing our mouths with food, snacks, meals?

Don’t rush! Do this experiment.

Don’t eat until you are hungry. Feel the signs of being really hungry.

That means you haven’t had any food in four hours or more. Your stomach feels empty. You may hear a rumble. Your mouth starts to water when you think of food, but you are okay preparing it or waiting for it at the restaurant. You are aware of being hungry. And you are not scared because you know you won’t die if you don’t eat a big piece of cheese cake right this second.

You can wait. And then truly savor your food, enjoy every bite, maybe even show gratitude for where your food came from, who prepared it (if that was you be grateful for the time and care you put into the preparation).

You take your time, you enjoy the experience. And you feel satisfied in a way you haven’t felt in a long time—since the last time you were brave and let yourself go hungry.

This is when eating turns from self-punishment into a healing experience.


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Assist Ed: Ben Neal/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Claudia Richey