In spite of being told my life is one big self help book, I’ve never really been into reading any of them. I don’t own a single diet book (except the Weight Watchers Pocket Guide given to me by my Mamaw) or any telling me how to lose or gain a guy, find my inner self or write my way to happiness. I’ve never really thought I needed any of them. Sure my life had its obstacles and valleys, but I am a reasonable person who can logically rationalize my life and any situation it presents to me, at least this is what I’ve told myself over the years.
As my passion for food and a healthy lifestyle has blazed brighter so has my need and desire to attain any knowledge relevant. I personally know the every day struggle that food and avoiding eating too much of it causes me. I know how much pain and difficultly it causes others including friends and people I love. I know the temptation of a perfectly chocolate glazed donut warm from the bakery glaring at me. And the way my mouth waters when I smell the makings of a strong garlic based cream sauce ready for a bowl of pasta. There is not one instance that I am faced with a rich indulgent food, or even just something that I think will taste good that I don’t have an internal war with myself over what I want to eat vs what would be best for my health and my body. I don’t starve myself, or even heavily restrict, but that doesn’t mean that even though I have what I consider to be a good balance in my eating habits that I don’t beg for a more natural and easy approach to food. I wanted to understand why food (and alcohol really, well and the internet if we are being really truthful) has such a hold on me. On my perceived happiness. On my guilt ridden conscience. On my life.
So for that reason I picked up (or rather asked for for my birthday and was gifted thanks to Lu) Geneen Roth’s book, Women, Food and God. Geneen believes that how and what we eat is a direct reflection of how we view life, love and God. That sounded like a bold statement when I first read it. How can the fact that I fill my plate with asparagus in stead of Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese have anything to do with my love for Jesus or my life?
Now that I have finished it, and actually put some of its practices to work in my own life, as well as had a few deep convos with Lu about its principles I am a believer in Geneen’s bold statement.
Different parts of this book has struck different chords with me. She spends a section discussing how we use food to either fill voids of emotion or to avoid emotion we don’t want to actually feel, and about self inquiry and awareness of what we are eating or doing. She also talks about learning to trust ourselves with food (or alcohol or whatever your vice may be) and the fact that we restrict ourselves and forbid certain foods and feel an intense amount of guilt because we don’t believe that we can have control over our eating habits and really our bodies in general.
I so often approach food in a mindless way. Completely unaware of the moment or the spoonfuls I’m shoving in my mouth. All I can think is that I want more, I want to be satisfied, I want to keep tasting the deliciousness until it makes me sick. And then I feel angry at myself, and honestly probably can’t even recall the actual taste of what met my lips.
If anything this book has taught me how to be more aware of life in general. To actually stop and smell the roses if you will. To sit down my beer last Friday night and just take in the humid night air, look around and see my good friends playing a game of corn hole, feel how my dress felt against my skin, listen to the chatter of those around me, and actually taste the refreshing cold ale instead of guzzling it down without thinking and reaching for the next one.
I’ve always had a problem with people who say that they “just love food too much” but yet eat fake processed junk or abuse it consistently by eating it by the bucketful regularly (clearly that anger is also somewhat directed internally). Because to love anything is to appreciate it. To learn about it and spend time with it. To admire its beauty and its great many talents. To give it the time and patience it deserves. To acknowledge how it makes your life (and in this case health) richer and more enjoyable. To realize how much you would hate to live without it. This is how I want to view food. This is how I want our relationship to be. Not one taken for granted or abused or built on fear and deprivation, but one of open hearted joy.
I highly recommend anyone looking for a good self improving read or just want to learn more about your inner relationship with food.