I think we make way too much fuss about what we eat or don’t eat. We give it the power to affect our lives, and so it does. And when it does, it becomes “evidence” that what we eat is really important if we want to live a healthy, vibrant life. “Of course, it’s important!” you may be yelling back as you read this, probably thinking I’ve lost my rational mind. Maybe that’s true in a way, but I ask you to hear me out.
All I’m really saying is this…that we eat with our mind. We all have very strong beliefs around food and what it does to our body and strong emotions about what’s good and bad, right and wrong to eat.
I’ve seen fights break out on Facebook between strangers on what cooking oil should or shouldn’t be used, or the evils of cheese and dairy – not to mention the horrors of eating meat! At first, I tried to defend myself on the harmlessness of a dusting of parmesan on my beautifully baked sweet potato fries recipe, photographed and written for a major wellness blog and shared over 40 thousand times. One mean, disrespectful comment amongst hundreds and I felt the need to defend myself. That did not turn out well.
We are so invested in being right that our nasty comes out. We’re so convinced that something is true, that we’ve convinced ourselves we have to eat – or can’t eat – a certain way. We’ve become so afraid of our food that we’ve become allergic to it. We eat on the run or with a side of stress for most meals and no amount of green juice or kale is going to remedy the toxicity in anger, attack, anxiety, judgment and guilt.
You’ll never convince another to move to your side of the battle line if they think differently. You just dig yourself a deeper hole where stress lives and thrives. I don’t care anymore what others choose to eat. That’s their business. I’m too busy enjoying whatever it is I’m eating. But I listen to what people are saying about food all the time. It’s quite a hot topic and we’ve had many heated discussions. Our thoughts and feelings about food get ingested and become hardened every time we think and talk about all the food that’s bad for us; all the food we love and can’t eat; all the ways we’ve disappointed ourselves and felt guilty because we dared to eat a sandwich when we were determined to stay away from carbs. It’s as if our thoughts and beliefs got heated up and hardened like crusted bits on the bottom of the skillet, refusing to be lifted up even with a splash of spirit. And though we have other pristine pans we could use, we only use this well-worn one. We’ve got to begin to loosen from the beliefs we hold if we want to heal.
We’ve all heard people say things like, “I just look at cake and I gain weight.” Guess what they’re right, they do gain weight, even when they’re just thinking about cake. What really stinks is that with this belief, they don’t even get to enjoy the cake!
We’ve built ourselves a stringent cell in which we can move about, eating from a meager table, all the while looking at images of a food obsessed society that come at us online and offline with frightening speed and regularity. How did it come to this? I’m not about to explore that minefield, not because I wouldn’t find it interesting, but because how we got here doesn’t matter. Discussing it, debating it (even friendly like) just keeps us digging a bigger hole.
Up until a few years ago, I was digging that hole right along with you. I’d argue and defend my case to anyone who would listen. Not that I got on my soapbox or anything (or maybe I did sometimes) but I was just as passionate about food as any of my foodie friends and we talked about it a lot. The exchange of ideas for new dishes or uses for ingredients were always fun. But we were just as caught up in the media hype for the latest superfood, healthy diet, nutritional study and reports warning us of food products to avoid.
For a while, I thought gluten was the enemy. I looked for signs of its presence and of course, I found it. I found it in the belly bloat I saw spilling over my jeans every time I ate a dish of my beloved pasta. Having found it, I now had to fix it. I avoided gluten for a few weeks and was miserable. To make things worse I beat up on myself for my lack of willpower. Why couldn’t I be happy eating brown rice spaghetti that broke in a million pieces and left behind a cloudy mess of sticky water that I couldn’t even use to enhance the splendid sauce I made to toss the mess in?
To add insult to injury…the pasta tasted so much like cardboard, that even my splendid sauce couldn’t fix it. I vowed to never again waste a delicious sauce on inferior pasta. I struggled with my discomfort with gluten and guilt on and off for a number of years until about two years ago when I immersed myself once again into the teachings of A Course in Miracles.
Once again I was reminded that food, like anything and everything else in our physical world is neutral. There are no exceptions. We give everything all the meaning it holds for us. We define the terms and rules of the game. We set it up. Waking up is nothing more than realizing we are the writers of our life story; the good, the bad and the ugly. We can’t always control what the characters in our story do or the outcome of their choices, but we can control our choices. As any writer knows, the characters and, therefore, the story takes on a life of its own and unfolds organically if it’s to be a good, honest tale that sucks us in.
Life is no different.
It sucks us into its stories and keeps us so busy and distracted by its compelling dramas that we forget…it’s just a story. Step back from it. Slow down from it. Stop being scared of it and listen. Relax, nothing is going to hurt you. In this moment, reading these words, nothing is going to hurt you so relax!!
The problem with every problem is that WE get involved. If we didn’t involve ourselves with fixing the problem, the story could move on with no resistance and unfold perfectly. “And they lived happily ever after”. That would be the ending of every story known to man. But that would make for very boring stories, wouldn’t it?
I know most of us were taught that being a responsible adult means taking care of what needs taking care of. And they’re right. We are responsible for our life. However, most of us were also taught that it’s a cruel cruel world out there. We’re taught to prepare ourselves against disaster with a good education or marketable skills; to persevere, work hard, push through; to watch out for all the bad things that could happen to you and your family; to take out insurance for all the bad things that are sure to happen, especially after a certain age. And then you die.
I think that’s a boring story. Aren’t we tired of this story yet? It’s been told since the beginning of time and will continue to be told unless we wake up to the fact that’s it’s all a story. Relax. It’s just a story. If you don’t like how it’s unfolding, go have a chat with its author. Ask yourself if you like writing a horror story of a hostile world where we need to protect ourselves from any number of threats lurking around corners and under beds or in closets.We all grow up with some version of monsters in the dark. Mine were under the bed and I was too scared to face them and see that there wasn’t anyone or anything there.
Aren’t we tired of this story yet? It’s been told since the beginning of time and will continue to be told unless we wake up to the fact that’s it’s all a story. Relax. It’s just a story. If you don’t like how it’s unfolding, go have a chat with its author. Ask yourself if you like writing a horror story of a hostile world where we need to protect ourselves from any number of threats lurking around corners and under beds or in closets.We all grow up with some version of monsters in the dark. Mine were under the bed and I was too scared to face them and see that there wasn’t anyone or anything there.
One day shortly after talking to a friend about these “monsters”, I went to a business appointment in a boutique hotel. I got into the elevator and noticed that it was faux painted with hundreds of books. I reached to press the floor and my eye went directly to a book. The title was, “Look Under the Bed”! Guidance does often come with a terrific sense of humor!
But there’s other stories besides horror, murder, and mayhem we can write – a romantic comedy perhaps where the characters get into all kinds of delightful, fun, happy messes that always turn out just fine and never in the ways one would suspect. These stories would still have me sitting at the edge of my seat watching for all the brilliant and miraculous ways problems get solved, even before they have the mobility to be problems. How clever, how enchanting, how creative we’d say. Not boring at all.
And so it is with our food stories. Bring any problem to the author. Deal with it there. Heal the storyteller by offering all of our upsets, snafus and misperceptions to our holy editor who will delete them and rework the story into something that does works. You’re given instructions from this healed place as to what to do, where to go…and what to eat…along with helpful instructions, custom made for you, exactly for where you are in the storyline. You don’t have to worry at all.
And so it was that I went back to my beloved pasta, white flour and all, free from worry, filled with the pleasure of it. Loving that it’s a perfect compliment to my simple sautéed sauces made with the freshest ingredients, cooked gently and perfectly in all their divine splendor and eaten without guilt with immense pleasure and gratitude. And so it does no harm but nourishes me perfectly!
Image credit: Frederik Van den Stock