“It’s just that food…diet…food choices…are so complicated.” This was my stated conviction last week as I began a three-day Eating Peace inquiry retreat with dear friend Grace Bell.
My confusion about nutrition and diet has increased over the years, and that’s saying something given my birthright as a woman and my family issues with overeating . Ever seeking a fix for various bodily challenges (such as carrying twenty extra pounds, mostly on my hips and thighs), I have tried these “deep fixes” in the last ten years alone:
~ I’ve delved into Geneen Roth’s work, including attending two of her famous and powerful Retreats.
~ Hired a nutritionist for a lot of money (whole, plant-based foods are good, it turns out. So is adhering to a diet….say Paleo? Vegan? Raw? It’s a continuum toward enlightenment.)
~ Filled three shelves of valuable bookshelf space with large, heavy books, full of information and prescriptions. Tried every one out for a couple of weeks.
~ Hired a coach who specializes in Compulsion Inquiry to get further under my complex wiring and bring in some deep awareness.
~ Subscribed to various coaching programs from extremely well-known and successful, skilled coaches.
~ Attended Weight Watchers regularly for two years.
~ Ditto for strength training.
~ Done every inquiry-based worksheet I could think of on my body, food, sugar, carbs.
~ Had extensive (and expensive) food-based allergy panels run to catch anything I was missing. More than once.
~ Eliminated gluten for ten years (mostly), dairy, and corn/sugar for the last month.
~ Cleansed this way, that way, the other way. Juiced and Green Smoothied my way through more than one Spring.
It’s a fascinating hobby.
If this were a financial spreadsheet I’d be alarmed at the money I’ve spent (a quick estimate runs easily to 30 grand. And that’s conservative.) The net result has been a fluctuation of maybe ten pounds during that time, except for the 20 pounds I gained (and later lost) eating my way through a family crisis. This is not to say that I haven’t learned from each source. It’s just that the very biggest, most blaring thing I’ve been learning has created a “religion,” as one of my teachers calls it, a core, unexamined belief that I adhere to without knowing it.
Food and eating choices are very complicated. That’s the religion. And there’s been a whole lot of proof to fuel the belief; it’s a puzzle that gets more complex every year as research evolves and trends change. And as it has evolved I have felt more and more powerless over my choices. So for three days last week, I retreated to examine my thinking and my eating up close. I noticed how much time my mind spends searching its database for its current eating plan. I noticed how elusive the answers seemed. And then how little of what happens in the mind has to do with what really supports this body.
By giving myself permission to eat what I wanted, stop when I was full enough, stay in my process with others who were doing the same, I noticed these things:
~ It doesn’t take much food to go from empty to full enough.
~ Kale is not my body’s friend. Ditto for too much salad. Especially in winter. My mind, following nutritional literature, had been ignoring evidence to the contrary.
So here’s the upshot. It turns out (ta da!) as I question my old, stale beliefs, and examine a whole bunch of emotional conditioning and wiring:
It is simple. But not always easy.
I pay attention to what my body wants, make sure I have some of it accessible, eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. For me right now, that means writing it all down, to avoid my tendency to slip into brain fog.
Every other complicating thing is a feeling or a story or a feeling about a story I created as a part of my religion.
Who am I without all the entertainment that my hobby of fixing my eating and weight problem has given me? On a peaceful path of discovery which involves breathing, staying present, noticing.
Oh yes, and eating.
It’s that simple.