“Feed the part of you that hasn’t been born. The part of you that will never die.”
This article is lovingly dedicated to one of my newly found teachers, Heather Umlah. The quotes below are hers—taken from a Freedom & Well-Being Immersion in Gothenberg, Sweden. Co-teachers: Leila Sadaghee and Anja Bergh.
The Debilitation of What’s Not Working.
I once asked a group of my girl friends what they have tried to lose weight. One of them answered, “The list I haven’t tried is probably shorter.”
The word diet has dualistic meanings—in one instance diet refers to the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. In another instance, it refers to a temporary and restricted intake of food in order to lose weight.
My diet and well, my diet(s) have been fucked up for years.
I bounced around all types of regimes, schemes, plans and programs to try to lose weight. Weight that I didn’t have—and some times had. I justified my diet or whatever program I was on for reasons like fitting into a bikini, a wedding in the fall, cleansing, detoxifying, to energize and for trying to be what I thought was healthy.
But not a single one of those tactics really worked—at least nothing was ever sustained. I’d start one—fail—start again—fail—start again—find something new—fail and it goes on and on and on. None of them taught me much about my body, but instead made me feel excruciatingly limited.
I had brainwashed myself (and, of course, had been influenced by other external factors) for decades. Deep down inside I believed that one of these plans would bring me happiness, contentment and self-love—these were the deeper desires, the fulfilment that I ultimately sought and it has taken me years to allow them to surface, even longer to articulate.
It’s not to say that I haven’t felt or reacted to the deeper intelligence of my body, I just didn’t know how to sustain it.
I became a vegetarian at 14 (even before that, but for years I wasn’t rally given a choice). I have always loved vegetables and salad over meat and dairy and I have never been obese. I have never gone as far as taking pills or vomiting despite those few crazy teen-age years where I restricted myself like crazy. Let’s also not forget all of the times I’d binge and self-medicate with sweets and carbs. Despite the madness I knew that the intelligence was there even if I didn’t know how to act upon it.
Because of all the restrictive ways in which I taught myself to think and feel about food, especially from such a young age, I desensitized my body from my mind. I held myself mentally captive by what program wasn’t working and finding which diet would be my golden ticket toward freedom.
Do you know the feeling?
(Please note, I’m not trying to promote a vegetarian lifestyle or say that vegetarian is the ultimate healthy choice— it may not be for everyone.)
A Prisoner of Bad Habits.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “What you resist, persists.”
It sure does, especially when it comes to dieting. You tell yourself you can’t have something and you become ridiculously obsessed by it. The more rigid you become, the harder it gets. A reason, I believe, why most extremists will go all in or nothing.
The mind is so easily influenced and it captivates every single one of our experiences—it’s all stored inside of us and everything we do as the ability to become a habit.
In recent years, after starting the practice of yoga, I have found it helpful to remind my self, “This experience is being recorded for quality assurance.”
The mind and body are constantly taking in and storing every single experience that we have—we do, after all, have enough storage space with all of our 100+ trillion cells.
So, if we’re constantly reliving patterns that create constriction (versus freedom), especially in the way in which we nourish ourselves with food, it can be pretty easy to become a stranger to yourself. I have for most of my life felt there’s me (the mind) and there’s this separate vessel (the body) and all around me prison bars of confusion with very little hope of escaping.
How do you live in a prison and not consciously know it?
My diet used to dictate my life—physically and mentally. On days where I felt fat, didn’t exercise or ate poorly, I’d stay in and cancel plans with friends. I wouldn’t go to dinner parties because I didn’t want to eat the food or eat too late at night. I wouldn’t go out to restaurants with friends because it would be to a place I didn’t care for or because drinking was involved.
I wouldn’t talk to people if I felt that I wasn’t having a day where my ‘eating’ was in line with whatever program I was on. It dictated my mood, my attitude, my outlook on life, the clothes I wore, how I carried body, the energy I’d send out, how I slept and how I felt about myself.
I was not in control and I hated it. It felt so awful.
What made me change?
Since I can remember, I have wanted something different, even before all of the diets and programs—even before their deaths, the rejection and abandonment.
For most of my life I wanted to find peace, but had no idea how to retrieve it. I put my faith in external projects hoping to find it, taste it and become it. But my gut literally and figuratively always wanted something else—its appetite for real nourishment was insatiable but I didn’t know how to how to feed it.
All I knew was that my body wanted to digest food without anxiety and worry and my mind wanted to spend time contemplating things other than what I’d eat for lunch the next day and the day after.
I didn’t want to go through any more programs, I wanted to be feel. I desperately, desperately wanted to free myself from what limited me on so many levels.
“What will you become, based on what you eat?”
Got a problem to solve? Eat.
Cravings is where it all started for me.
Have you ever tried to sooth a broken heart by eating? How about loneliness? Rejection? Abandonment? Stress? Anger? Trauma? Ever try to find a solution to your worries at the bottom of a massive bowl of spaghetti? I have. Ever try to fix a broken-heart with a large cheese pizza? I have.
Have you skipped meals because life got too stressful? I have. Ever felt too lost, too broke or too sad to eat? I have.
I have sprinted between these two extremes for years without knowing what I was doing. I had no idea that my decision to feed or not feed my body was actually trying to fill an emotional void or to empty out a traumatized space.
I believe most of us eat with an emotion in mind. Perhaps you aren’t bought into the mental propaganda anymore, but I bet at one point you were.
So, how the hell do we eat without emotional dictatorship, rules and regimes?
Step #1: set yourself free by throwing all diet schemes out the window and never, ever look back.
Step #2: start eating for real physiological nourishment versus emotional needs.
Step #3: make it a practice to choose and eat with honest awareness and continuously find a method that works for you that invites you to tap into the deeper intelligence of your body. The more you try to access it, the more it will grow.
And, remember, you literally are what you eat. How and what you eat has a consequence that can be either evolutionary or imprisoning—the choice is yours.
“How do you feed the unloved parts of you?”
Craving Vs. Hunger—what’s the difference?
Think about it—what are you feeding? Are you feeding your body with nutrient-dense foods for optimal energy, healing, health and repair? Or, are you eating to fill a void in your life, out of boredom or habit, because of peer pressure, are you resisting your issues or justifying where you are in order to not move forward?
Is filling your vessel with food sacred or is it just a mechanical, unhealthy past time?
I used to eat to fill a void. I ate because I craved love. I desperately craved attention as a child, to be hugged and to be acknowledged. I craved someone to want me. As I got older, I didn’t eat to try to form a shape as I craved happiness, and still I craved love. After yo-yoing back and forth for what seemed like forever I knew these craving would ever be fulfilled and that what I was doing would never, ever work.
So what is the difference? Here are my thoughts…
Cravings: temporary, stem from an emotional desire to be fulfilment, are not physiological, often reappear after eating, are insatiable and they can emotionally intensify the more it is denied.
Hunger: physiological, the body’s request for energy and can be felt via hunger pains/low energy/foggy mind and hunger goes away after real nourishment.
Remember, guilty pleasures have nothing to do with real pleasure.
Are your emotions hungry or is it actually your stomach?
Make it an experiment—every time you put something in your mouth, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Be open to what type of responses arise. Notice even the most subtle voices of anger, fear and confusion. Become aware how you feel after.
Please share your experiences.
“The more aware you become, the more you will crave better choices.”
Eat to Be Free.
It’s bloody hard to undo, but as they say, the only way to break a bad habit is to replace it with another habit. This can be tricky. If we don’t turn inward to commence the healing process, we’ll look for external solutions that will eventually lead us back to the same place we started from. I know this from personal experience and years of trial and error, but I’ve kept going.
I’m still here—so are you.
I’ve realized you can’t just free yourself of diets, programs and cravings without becoming aware of who you are—the vessel you are contained within and all the different varieties of emotional constriction you are holding onto.
This doesn’t mean you or I have to go under psychoanalysis or over-analyze the trauma of every single event that has ever happened to us, but it does mean allowing our selves to become as aware as possible of our actions, reactions, our feelings, our intuition and to become as sensitive and in tune with our bodies as possible.
Of course, relinquishing the power bad habits have over you is a vital, but it can take time and you have to be willing and have the desire to become more intimate with your body, even the parts that you resist and don’t love.
This is a work in progress and there’s no, as they say: one size fits all, but we all have the ability to tap in. We all have the choice to investigate and open our minds to the possibility of healing and becoming.
I say healing because when we reap havoc within the mind, we cause a lot of damage in the body—all those recordings, especially the restricting and constricting ones can create cyclical and triggered emotions such as anger, sadness, depression, lack of faith in one’s self, hopelessness and confusion (and more). Oh, the fucking confusion.
So start with curiosity. Start with love and a desire to liberate yourself. You have the ability to change the course of your life with food. And, by all means, don’t go for perfection, but a connection to all of the ways in which you nourish all parts of you.
Remember, the moment you decide to change, you already have. Keep going.
Stayed tuned for more.
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