Monday, March 23, 2009

InnerBliss: No More Starving & No More Stuffing

A yummy, all homemade, all organic tortilla dinner.

Listening to: This great voice (and the great trumpet).

Bliss: It may still be quite chilly here but we are so happy for the sun. And in the last couple of weeks, the gulls have been back, flying over our house a few times a day, en masse, and making gull sounds. I can't imagine not living near water, not hearing the sound of water birds.

You are what you eat.

What happens to our bodies when we feel hungry and see that as something to overcome? What happens when we turn a bodily function into The Enemy?

I have written about being put on my first diet around age three, and "dieting" for me was a normal state from that day on, but it was in my second year of college that my disordered eating got to its worst point.

Have you ever felt righteous and superior for being able to make it through the hunger? I'm thinking most women can say "yes" to that.

All these hungry women running around in a society of plenty. Picture it. How much time and energy we spend on talking ourselves out of food or into different food or calculating the extra time we would need on the treadmill if we ate this or that.

Picture all those women. Can you see the anger emanating from them? Look in their you see the bottles of anti-depressants and the anti-anxiety meds and the gums to chew and the appetite suppressants?

"Of course, she uses skim; look how thin she is."

I was in the cafeteria, putting skim milk on my small bowl of cereal when I heard this from right behind me, and as I walked away, I stood up tall and proud. But then I immediately thought of the next five or ten pounds I should really lose.

I would eat -- tiny, tiny amounts of food, just enough so I wouldn't pass out -- and then I would scurry back to my room and run in place, furiously, for twenty minutes or half hour and do leg lifts and sit ups. I would do this every time I ate anything.

I thought about food. I dreamed of food. I wanted food.

I ached for food. I hungered for food.

But I did not give in.

This Hunger Beast has been my constant companion in life. And I vacillate between being its best friend and its worst enemy. I starve or I stuff.

No more. As I recently said: to live our bliss we must be fully present in our physical bodies. (Check out the reader responses to that post and add your own via the Mister Linky.)

To be fully present in our bodies, we must nourish them. For everyone, this will look different. For some of us vegetarianism will be perfect, while others will need to eat meat. No more rules and no more judging others for their choices.

So here is My Eating Manifesto:

1. First and above all else, there are no rules. I will eat what my body wants. Cravings are messages about need and sometimes our soul needs a cookie and our blood cells need a burger.

2. Along with that, as I said, no more judging other people's food choices. Every body is different. Period. We can make good choices -- organic produce and grass fed cattle -- but no one choice is morally superior to any another.

3. I promise to never again Starve Myself. Never. Not for one minute. I will not count calories. I will not avoid any one food group. I will not follow any "type" diets. I will not follow fads. I will not forgo the pleasure of eating because it may allow me to wear slightly smaller jeans.

4. On the flip side, I will never again Stuff Myself. I will not emotionally eat. I will pay attention to my stomach when it is telling me that I am full. I will not fit in that last piece of pizza just because. I will not eat when I am upset. I will not eat because I am bored.

5. I will think of Thich Nhat Hanh and chew slowly and eat slowly. I will eat mindfully. I will, once again, make dinner a candle lit affair, a special time of the day.

6. I will only eat real, whole food. (I'm already pretty good at this.)

7. I will eat things that I love to eat and not eat things just because I am told they will lengthen my life. Food is not a chore and food is not medicine.

8. I will not simply eat to live but I will, as my French teacher would say, live to eat.

What would you add to an Eating Manifesto?


differenceayearmakes said...

How many times have "they" declared some food bad for you only to later discover that actually it has a benefit - and on the reverse declared some food good for you only to later discover that actually it isn't so good for you after all. Oops.

I love your manifesto!

I'm someone who has always been able to eat whatever she wanted and never gain an ounce. Then later, after 40, when I put on weight it wasn't food that did it, technically, but hormones. I never developed the habit of dieting so I find it very hard if not impossible now. And I know, although I ignore it more times then not, that exercise makes the difference for me.

I have to admit I eat what I want to eat - good, bad or indifferent.

I've known so many with eating disorders - a friend who starved herself most of the time, refused to even look at certain foods, ordered very carefully at restaurants, and I once found hiding in a corner eating a cookie as if it was something to be ashamed of. It made me so sad. Because she was beautiful even when she was heavier, maybe even more so.

We just don't see ourselves clearly. Too much media overload I think sometimes.

Meanwhile I'm waiting for there to be a discovery in the amazing benefits in the potato chip.

Connie said...

The one last thing I would add to this beautiful manifesto is:

9. I will be grateful for the meal I am about to receive.

Christine---we are actually 100%ly on the same page..I just wrote a food manifesto myself last night!!!

Peace & Love.

earthmother said...

As I often do when reading your posts, I was chanting along with "YES YES YES"...until, I got to the last two items on your Eating Manifesto.

Like you, I've suffered from disordered eating and chronic dieting my entire life. But unlike you, mine culminated in morbid obesity.

On the last Summer Solstice I set an intention to change my relationship to food. Rather than add to your Eating Manifesto, I'd simply amend #7 and #8:

7. "Take food in measured doses, as you take medicine." ~ Swami Muktananda

8. Rather than live to eat, I am learning to eat to live.

Stacy said...

I love your manifesto. I could learn so much from it. My weight has been an issue for me since childhood (age 10) and right now I'm struggling to lose weight. I think doing kundalini yoga is helping me lose my lifelong body hatred at last.

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

Beautiful. I love it ... and yes, mindful eating ... so important. And listening to your body. Am I really hungry? I wonder how many people ask themselves this question before putting food into their mouths.

My husband has always said, if you eat food that comes in a box or bag, you'll end up looking like that box or bag. Indeed.

A great manifesto. Food is fuel for our bodies, not a drug for our souls.

Ash said...

I came across your blog today and what a stellar first read. Your manifesto is brilliant and encompasses some realizations that I've been recently coming to myself.

Amazing post.

I was overweight for most of my life and two years ago I lost 33 lbs. Recently I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and it has changed the way that I view food and its impact on my body. I've been working to eat in order to nourish my body, which is quite a shift.

Tess said...

Fabulous manifesto, you go, BlissChick grrrl! For me, the one most difficult thing is eating mindfully. Even if I'm not doing something else I get distracted mentally. And I do have this thing that it's a waste of time just to eat. I almost always do something else at the same time - reading or watching television for example. Dealing with my issues around time is my next step, I think.

Janaki said...

Y-E-S! Wow, My heart honors your heart;-)

Grace said...

Great post, and one many women need to hear. Thankfully, I became aware of the direction my obsessive food thougts were headed in my early 20's so I stopped it (not easy) before I lost my youth to it, largly in thanks to other women bloggers (real people as opposed to the media).

Jennifer Hugon said...


This is perfect Christine! It's funny, I was just talking to my husband about many of the points on your manifesto this weekend. I couldn't have summed it up better.

I'm so grateful, by the way to have a partner who has supported me through my eating issues. He met me before I stopped eating, stayed with me through it and helped me come out the other side, healthier, stronger and more confident.

We as women need to support each other through these thoughts and feelings instead of judging and tearing one another down. That's my favorite part of your manifesto, in fact!

Thank you for another thought provoking and inspiring post!


Anonymous said...

an utterly brilliant book is Carol munter & Jane Hirsmann's 'When Women Stop Hating their Bodies' and also and Robyn Posin's description of giving up dieting is fantastic

mary creative voyage

blisschick said...

Connie -- OH! I MEANT to include that! Sometimes... :) Thanks for putting it in a comment.

Earthmother, Morbid obesity is a whole other thing, isn't it? Though I have known people who have the surgery to help them with this, and then they still, somehow (and I admrie this greatly), learn how to love food in a new way.

Stacy, Kundalini yoga helps me the same way. After being committed to it for a length of time, I find myself seeing myself in a different light. :)

Ash, Welcome! Crohn's disease? I am sorry for the difficulty of that. We all are sending you light and healing!

Tess, Yep. The time thing comes up over and over for you, it seems. :)

Jennifer, What an amazing partner you have! To make it through an eating disorder? Truly amazing.