My connection to sanity and peace around food has grown and strengthened substantially over the past several years. While I have many teachers and practices to thank for this growth for the purposes of this post I am going to talk mainly about practicing mindful eating through the context of Geneen Roth‘s work.
Over the course of 2014, I have taken Geneen Roth’s two online courses based on her book Women, Food and God. Course 1 is The Principles. Course 2 is the Eating Guidelines. What I like about Geneen is that she gets that the struggle with compulsive eating is not really about the food. Geneen coaches around using food as an pathway to deeper understanding of yourself. (I am guessing some of you just laughed out loud.) 🙂 I have too.
Many things can be used as a tool for self introspection and learning, Geneen chooses what tends to rule our daily lives, what we stress and celebrate over: food. Through her practices, which I will share in a moment, a person can learn to pause and pay attention – to your body, to your emotions, to the narrative constantly runs in our brains. The practices are about getting curious around things you have never had curiosity about before (What do I believe about eating alone? Why do I want to eat right now when I know I am not hungry? Why am I feeling anger at the moment? Or even what really am I feeling right now? Where did these messages about not being good enough come from? and countless other things that could come up for an individual). Best of all in my mind, Geneen re-iterates that change is not made through shame and punishment. If that were true we would all be thin, smart and rich. 🙂 She encourages us always to meet ourselves with kindness and curiosity.
I have been on the path that I am sure many of you have been on. I have struggled with binge eating most of my life. I have tried all sorts of diets. I have been vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, primal and paleo (not all at one time though!). I have thought fat was evil and then carbs were evil. I have tried eating copious amounts of protein and made myself feel sick trying to hit a daily target according to my body weight. I have sought out the magic pill supplements that will make me all better – whole, unbroken, skinny. I have felt that I have been powerless against food. I have felt lazy, weak and stupid. I have craved the discipline of sticking to a plan because I felt there was no possibility that I could trust myself around food.
Now? Finally through little steps, practicing over and over and over again, I am finding peace in more regular intervals. I am able to trust myself more. I am able to meet myself with patience and kindness more often.
Geneen Roth’s 7 Guidelines for Eating
- Eat when you are hungry.
- Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
- Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
- Eat what your body wants.
- Eat until you are satisfied.
- Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
- Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.
In the next post, I will step through each one and my experience in practicing them.