5 Spiritual Lessons I Learned From Obsessing Over Food
For so long, I struggled with my relationship with food. I dieted, I starved myself, I worked out until I couldn’t work out anymore, and no matter what I did, I always ended up with my hand stuck in the not-so-proverbial cookie jar. I felt addicted to food — totally unable to wrangle my desire to eat everything that wasn’t nailed down, while obsessing about every single bite.
For so long, I fought it. I thought, If only I could get my food under control, then everything would be fine. Or, Maybe dairy’s the problem, or portions, or [fill-in-the-blank].
But in reality, my problem had nothing to do with the food itself — this was a spiritual problem, one which pervaded more areas of my life than I realized. When I finally dealt with the “real issues,” the food issues cleared up on their own. Like. F’ing. Magic.
So here are some lessons I've learned along the way:
1. Nothing external will ever fully satisfy me.
An object, a place, or even a person, is not a reliable source of happiness. One day, that “thing” we think is so sexy and appealing just doesn’t do it for us anymore. I’ve learned this with food, I’ve learned this with work, I’ve learned with this men; yet I still always seem to need reminders.
2. Objects outside of me only have power if I give it to them.
When I feel “controlled” by something outside of me (whether it be food, men, or work), I am choosing to give it that control, generally by allowing the outcome of that thing to determine my self-worth. Not only will something outside of me never truly fill me up, it will also never truly define me, and my job is to remember that.
3. Inquiry will always be more powerful than resistance.
When I’m in the throes of doing something I know is “bad" for me, resistance, as a strategy, generally fails. I’m not usually stopped by the thought Hmmm maybe I should put the fork down. What I can do, however, is ask myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. Compulsive behaviors are generally techniques we develop to deal with feelings or underlying insecurities. Without dealing with those real questions, the cookie jar wins.
4. My body knows all the answers—i just need to trust her.
After years of dieting and letting other “experts” outside myself tell me what to eat, I see now that the only consistent and reliable source of guidance around what to eat comes from within me. Interestingly enough, this also seems to be the case in my love, work, and family life.
5. I will never be, and never have been, perfect. And that’s cool with me.
Until we embrace the fact that eating is a messy art, not an exact science, we will struggle. Same goes for relationships, decisions-making, and all other areas in which we tend to think there is a “right way.”
The way we do anything is the way we do everything. I am clear today that my relationship with food is a teacher — it’s a practice ground for learning the true lessons I’m meant to learn during my time here on earth.
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