“I can’t think of one thing that is better than what’s in my mouth.”
A client of mine said something that made me remember an author I hadn’t thought about in many years. Back in the day, Geneen Roth was a main voice in reclaiming eating without regret.
I decided to see what’s she’s up to now and found a couple of book titles that caught my attention –This Messy Magnificent Life and When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair.
I have to get both.
Combining the words messy and magnificent helps remind us that life, in general, is messy (not just ours) and despite the messiness, there is magnificence. Yes!
Next, if you had ever wished your grade school halls would have been filled with donuts, or couldn’t stop eating spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar, this phrase from the book might resonate:
“My motto was that if some was good, more had to be better. I was haunted by a wild hunger for something I couldn’t name, and while food didn’t fill it, having more of what I didn’t want was better than having nothing at all”.
Eating food (“what I didn’t want”) was better than nothing at all (“the thing that couldn’t be named”). To help make sense of this, I like to describe the needs of our physical and emotional “tanks” from Dr. Anita Johnston’s Eating in the Light of the Moon. Our tanks require balance to ultimately find peace with food and eating.
Here’s another one. “Most of us already know this, we’ve tried hundreds of quick fixes: diets, affirmations, workshops that promise abundance, instant changes. Sometimes I ask a group of people how many of them have been on a diet. They all raise their hands. Then I ask how many people lost weight on that diet. All hands are raised again. Then: How many people gained weight on said diet? Again, everyone. Finally, the last question: How many people believe that another diet is the answer now? Everyone. We don’t want to know what we already know”
What is it that we know? That diets don’t work, and that your intelligence is fighting with your desire to be thinner. Your intelligence says “why keep trying more diets that ultimately aren’t sustainable” and your desire to be thinner is the message that everything in life will fall into place once you reach that goal.
There’s also a theme in our culture to feel negatively about our bodies throughout life: “I would die to be as thin as I was five years ago, when I would have died to have been thinner”.
I bet if Geneen had asked how many in her retreats had said something like this, the vast majority would have raised their hands too.
Finally, “Bingeing – consistently eating beyond enough – is a way to not have to face that what we love ends.”
Friendships, life, jobs are not guaranteed and when they end, the grief can be overbearing.
“When I’m full because I can’t think of one thing, just one, that is better than what’s in my mouth. And keep eating to avoid the ending of goodness”.
Having a common experience and language to describe the experiences helps with self-discovery and ultimately a better relationship with food, eating, and weight. It’s what I love to do. Next up, the “Refrigerator” book. I can’t wait…