Listen up, this is important. Yes, glutton is indeed considered a dirty word. This is not about eating a cookie every now and then. This is about honoring ourselves and listening intently to what our body is asking for, and trusting it. As a yoga teacher and therapist, I see and hear how people interact with their bodies for hours each day and have worked extensively with women and men who struggle with their body image and eating disorders. As a woman, a yogi, a foodie, a student of mindfulness, a teacher, and a psychotherapist, the topic of food is one I often ponder about. I have had my own journey with food and my body, as I am sure you have as well.
What I have learned is this:
When we deny ourselves something we deeply want, without exploring the yearning, we give ourselves the message that we are withholding as a form of punishment.
Why is that so bad you might ask? Well, what I have witnessed and experienced is that it puts us in a cycle of restricting to binging. This may not manifest in the typical form of a diagnosed eating disorder, but in some way this denial makes our lives a little less enjoyable, and often that comes back to bite us. We want to make up for it on our “cheat day”, we then drink too much or indulge too deeply in some other “pleasure.” Basically, it throws off balance! We tell ourselves that we cannot be trusted.
But we can. Our cravings, if you let them, can give us a glimpse into our needs and desires.
Often we decide whether a food is “good” or “bad” before it has even entered our body and we have felt its effects. Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully believe in health and nourishing our precious bodies, but we have to admit that food is not simply fuel. It is cultural, sensual, emotional, social, pleasureful, and delicious. Herein lies the dilemma. How do we balance our desire for that salted caramel truffle with our pledge to health and vibrancy? We listen. To our bodies and to our hearts. Are we using this piece of cake to cover up a powerful emotion we do not want to deal with right now by numbing ourselves? Or are we enjoying every sweet morsel as we sit in the sun and appreciate the flavors and textures? Those are two very different experiences.
Food. Just like drugs, alcohol, sex, you name it, can be used to tune out, to numb, and to distract, but when we are living life mindfully and with awareness we can make the best decisions for our hearts, our souls, and our bellies. So indulge in the yumminess life has to offer and enjoy it.
Pleasure looks good on you.