Many of my readers and clients have come to feel that their eating is out of control. Here’s a perspective that I sometimes share, a perspective that allows you to begin to see the act of eating as a quintessential moment of self-determination, self-control and freedom.
As philosopher Gregory Sams astutely notes, “We cannot stop our heartbeat or our breathing but we can choose to stop eating and die, as many protest-fasters have demonstrated” (2009, 208). This is a fascinating point. If you were to try to hold your breath to kill yourself, you would faint and your body would take over the steering wheel of your existence, overriding your intention in a kind of body-over-mind coup d’état. But if you decide to stop eating, your body is out of luck. Sure, it will torment you with pangs of hunger, but without the assistance of your volition, it cannot move your hand to put food in its mouth. The behavior of eating is not only within your control, it is also the reins with which you steer this chariot of body.
If you choose not to fuel this vehicle of life, it dies. Ponder this the next time you sit down to a meal. Allow yourself to fully appreciate the significance of the moment when you begin to eat. The choice to eat is not the beginning of loss of control; rather, it’s the very proclamation of self-control. You are in charge of this hapless mass of matter that is your body. You animate it, you keep it alive with your decision to eat. So, allow yourself to experience the moment before eating as a proclamation of autonomy—a moment of psychosomatic sovereignty and an assertion of self.
Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2012)
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Last reviewed: 17 Aug 2013