Are we spoiled for choice? Here are some questions I’ve asked myself. You might want to do the same:
1. How many times a day do I eat or drink something. No, really.
2. How many times a day do I eat merely to satisfy hunger (or drink to satisfy thirst)?
3. How many times a day do I insist on satisfying a craving for a particular food item?
4. How many times a day do I eat/drink something in order to fill a known nutritional need?
5. How do I feel after I eat/drink? (Sick, over-full, bloated, gassy, still hungry, tense, “high”, tired, satisfied, comfortably full, grateful for the meal, etc.)
Bonus Question: How much real time (hours and minutes) a day am I involved in thinking about food, purchasing food, preparing food, eating food, and so on?
There’s quite a lot of conflicting information about the best way and worst ways to eat. Mindless eating causes weight gain and takes years off our lives, a varied diet is better for you, food boredom causes weight loss…
The explosion of the foodie-business and gourmet-ism, the incredible options available to us, and the fact that food is a relatively cheap pleasure has slowly lured many of us to spend a lot thought and time devoted to eating.
B. God and My Weight Loss
I know. I used to eat to satisfy unhealthy cravings (not always, but often) and I also did stress-eating. Those factors led to me gaining over one hundred pounds. But in addition to cleaning up my diet I also found myself eating more mindfully, and this has definitely improved over time (it is slow going and there is always room for improvement).
I try to remember to ask myself: Why am I eating and drinking? My answers involve both the little and big reasons. To have the energy and good health to get things done, live a meaningful life, make a contribution to the world, and so on. To feel full so I won’t be distracted by hunger and thirst. So I can say a blessing and joyfully acknowledge the Creator of all this bounty. And sometimes, simply, because dinner is delicious and it was prepared with love…and with my health and enjoyment in mind.
I also keep reminding myself to be grateful to G0d for the food on my plate. Saying the blessings that are traditionally said by those of the Jewish faith, both before and after eating, helps me keep “my eye on the ball.”
Being truly satisfied, physically, emotionally and spiritually with whatever it is that God gives me, whether a humble bowl of soup or salad or something more elaborate, has definitely helped me keep the weight off. So has prayer.
C. Mind, Body, Soul
What’s the Connection? By asking myself some hard questions (and really listening to my answers), I saw that while my weight issues (and I reckon, all types of eating disorders/disordered eating) are about the mind and body, they are also about the soul. We’re spiritual beings, and the body and soul and mind are reflections of each other and connected to each other.
I find that in my work with those with co-occurring disorder, addiction and mental illness, there are always a few sub-goals. These include helping patients get in touch with/express who they really are. Finding authenticity. And also, finding the good point inside themselves upon which they can build and heal and transform.
Our bodies, minds, and souls have the potential to be more aligned if we make conscious choices that takes in the direction of emotional/physical/spiritual wellness. Over-eating, like substance abuse, is something that needs to be looked at for what it really is: A dysfunctional response to a dysfunctional lifestyle.
I’ve got one more question: What would be, for me, the best possible, most building and healing first steps I can take to take control of how I eat? If figure, if you can find your answer, you’re part-way there.