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Eating In and Out of Order

Do I look fat in this?

Eating disorders, especially the “classics” – anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating – are traumatic, no question.  These eating patterns-gone-haywire (leave aside for a sec just being waaay too fat, which is obviously out-of-order too) not only interfere with living a happy, healthy life, they can have permanent and devastating consequences.

Like lots of people, we’ve seen this up close and it’s painful to see.  And surely, one thing we know is that we don’t have the solutions to all eating issues.  From what we’ve heard, eating disorders aren’t even necessarily about food but about other emotional and spiritual issues. One thing is clear however – these disorders show a fundamental and exaggerated disconnect between what we eat, how our bodies function, and most importantly, who we are. 

A recent story in the Washington Post shines some light.  Apparently, rule-based eating, especially strict religious diets (think kosher) seems to increase  the rate of these disorders.  Orthodox Jews are especially afflicted.  Uh, according to our way of seeing it, it’s because rules, however wonderful the intent, should not be blindly followed.  We need to question and see if our direct experiences match what we are being told.  We each need to remember who we are and how we really are what we eat.  We need to Wake Up.

Now we’re not saying people shouldn’t keep kosher or connect food with higher purposes.  Fasting and eating rituals serve many functions and can offer amazing opportunities to understand who we are, improve our relationship to food and deepen our spiritual connection.  As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, fasting is an ancient practice, used for political as well as religious purposes. But that’s something different than throwing up dinner or eating only 3 carrots and cake crumbs for a day or two.

So what’s in order here?  To wake up, which means being more conscious of what we eat and seeing how what we eat is connected to more than just our taste buds.  Food that’s prepared, served, and eaten with love and grace (and a sense of fun and humor) can bring us closer to each other and make us feel great.  And yes, science proves that eating this way is actually more nutritious, since we all digest and use our food best when we’re not stressed or angry. 

Like so much of life, eating well is not a matter of checking off the boxes in a rulebook – it’s about being awake.