I have struggled with this blog for three days now; I think perhaps there are three blogs here. Please note, this is only my opinion, and not proven facts from on high. Take what works for you and leave the rest. But do let me know what you think.
Someone I greatly respect has a story; it goes like this: There are three ways you can make a decision; a good decision, a bad decision, or no decision. Now making a good decision is the best idea and the answer we want; making a bad decision can be an excellent opportunity for learning and growth; but making no decision is the worst decision we can make, because it leaves us in a kind of limbo where nothing gets done.
With this blog, I want to start a series of teaching you what the body does and how the body works with food, so you can better understand how the food you eat affects your body, mind, and spirit.
First, I want to say that the Course in Miracles tells us that the body is given to the mind as a tool for learning and growth. The Buddha on his six-year path to enlightenment, had a period where he limited himself to only one grain of rice a day. At that time, he believed that fasting was one of the best ways to acquire wisdom.
He lived on a grain of rice a day, and later, nothing at all. His body became so thin that his legs were like bamboo sticks, his backbone was like a rope, his chest was like an incomplete roof of a house, his eyes sank right inside, like stones in a deep well. His skin lost its golden color and became black. In fact, he looked like a living skeleton — all bones without any flesh! He suffered terrible pain and hunger yet continued to meditate.
For six long years he did these practices and in spite of the great pain and suffering he did not find wisdom or the answers to his questions. He finally decided, “These austerities are not the way to enlightenment.” He went begging through the village for food to build up his body.
Then he tried many other ways of eating until he finally realized that providing enough food for the body to be satisfied, limiting the times food is eaten and focusing on meditation and spirituality, is the path that worked best for him.
Food and eating are the most intimate experiences for our lives, because food literally becomes our body’s parts. In future blogs, I want to tell you real specifically about how the nutrients we eat become our body’s parts, but today I want you to notice that the Buddha took six years to find his way to peace and freedom. Be patient and be gentle with yourself.
What I think is wrong with obesity management in America today, is that we are blaming the person with the disease. Obesity is the symptom, the cause, or the result of some other problem.
If you went to your doctor with an ear infection and he gave you a decongestant and a pain reliever, you would feel better. But without the antibiotic, the ear infection would continue to return and grow worse.
I think a diet is a period of starvation that happens before you gain twenty pounds. It temporarily solves the problem of the overweight, but it does not address the real problem that causes the overweight.
There are lots of solutions: there are diets galore, there are pills and powders and potions and bars and shakes; there is food addiction rehab, other food addiction programs, compulsive overeating treatments of all kinds and stripes.
The question is, what is the real problem FOR YOU? Is it that you had some awful emotional experiences and when you stop over eating, the feelings come up and hurt you? And you cannot stand them, so you eat to put them down?
And when you eat certain foods, do you feel like you cannot stop? And then if you do stop, maybe you get the feelings or maybe you just do not know how to live life without those foods. Or maybe no one had the time or willingness to teach you how to live life.
My friend’s point here is, very few decisions are final and unchangeable. You make a choice, try it out, and look at the results. How close did I get to my goals? How does this feel? What part worked for me and what part didn’t?? And what do I need to do now?
To the client who says, “I cannot imagine living my life without this food, but it is hurting me” I need to ask, “Have you ever lived without it for a time?”
The only reason I can see to put down foods you love, is that the life you get with out them is so much better than the life you’d get with them, that it is worth the sacrifice. And we won’t know until we try.
This is why I believe that recovery programs and food plans need to be adjusted to the individual person’s needs. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.
I may not be willing to do forever the things I am willing to do today, but let me be clear about a few things that I have never seen work:
Willpower does not work. If you don’t have willpower, you wouldn’t be trying so long and so hard.
Isolation does not work. We get sick in isolation, we get well in community. We all need the help of others to live our lives and solve our problems.
Wearing a recovery program that feels like a straitjacket will not work; it will not give you the freedom to live your life.
And this is what I believe: that we each need to find a way of living and working and eating and praying that works for us. It has to be individualized just for you; and it may change as your needs change; but the goal is to find what works for you long term.
In future blogs and courses and writings, I’m going to try to help you figure that out for your own path. So, stay tuned.
Thank you for reading this, and please comment below.
Thanks Theresa!!! I know that I cannot go around the feelings that drive me to over eating. Through them is my only hope. Your blog is what I needed this morning. Hugs!
Hugs to you too! Best wishes in processing the feelings!
I think this is a good blog. Isolation definitely does not work. In addition to needing the help of others we must also look to help others. That service can be a smile, opening a door for someone, doing volunteer work, showing up at work, etc …Keep it simple. By the way, I love this picture of you!
Talk to you soon.
Looking forward to a good Chat! If we all did one simple act of kindness every day, how would the world change?
I am loving every blog post Theresa. Thank you so much! Love you. xoxo
Thanks for the kind words. Love you too.
Theresa, when I read your posts, I always feel like you are writing a personal letter to me that touches my very soul. The standard recovery program is like a straitjacket for me. It is a source of endless frustration for me. Thank you for pointing out that, like my food plan, my recovery plan should be individualized for me. Keep on bloggin’!
Thank you. I want your recovery program to be a comfortable sweatshirt, not a straitjacket. Expect the blogs every Tuesday, 6 am!
For me, I need to work the 12 steps. That is where I find my way in recovery. The 1st 3 are about trust. 4 thru 9 are the action ones . 10 through are the maintenance ones.
Putting down the foods that aren’t good for me isn’t enough.
Putting down your drug foods is the first and most essential step. I agree. And doing the rest of the steps is what allows us to stay stopped and create a life of peace and freedom.
I do read your words and find a peace and wisdom in them. So I continue. I do have a hope of finding a way out of the cycle of dieting and overeating. I’ve stopped the dieting this year even to the point that the scale isn’t the most important guage of wellness. I feel I’m in the middle somehow of finding the way to peace. I pray for the willingness to make good choices. I think it takes time and I’m finally willing to wait for it.
Wonderful. How else could we help you?
Thank you Theresa , for this very helpful and insightful post , thank you for your ongoing support to all your followers on here .
Thank you for the kind words. So glad to be able to help.
Great blog, Theresa. Lots of good info, particularly about the Buddha’s six year search into deprivation
to gain insight. If he had listened to his sponsor he would have known that wouldn’t work. I also agree with your individualized approach and may I add not only with food choices but also to take into account age, activity level and willingness to follow a discipline. I’m sure you have a million more factors for us to plug in, as well. XO, Wendy from NJ
Thanks. With the soul series we have been doing on Third Saturdays, you may hear more about Buddha and other great teachers and masters.
My belief is that not making a decision is actually making a decision. When I was living in my addiction, I made the choice to ignore what I saw, felt, heard, or knew, so I could continue to act in the same manner. When I was compulsively eating, I intellectually knew that it wasn’t healthy or “normal” for me to binge on food, however, I made the decision to do nothing about it for years. I continued on that path until the compulsive eating led me to wanting to die on a daily basis. Faced with the choices of either suicide or getting help for my food addiction, I finally made a choice and reached out for help.
That was almost 30 years ago and I have been abstinent from compulsive eating, one day at a time, since then. When the fog of compulsive eating began to lift, I also began to make better decisions. The decisions that I make today are based on the information that I have at that moment. However, I am also better equipped to look at the consequences of those decisions and determine if the path that I’m on is really the one that I want to be taking.
YES!YES!YES! And the fog of compulsive eating means we cannot think clearly enough to make good decisions, or learn from the bad ones! So glad you are free!
Wonderful thoughts! Just what I needed to read today.
Thank you. So glad you enjoyed it!
Hi Theresa! Thank you so much for this blog. It has helped me to realize several important things:
1. Even if I make a wrong decision, I can learn from it and move forward.
2. I can use my experiences with my own health struggles as a tool for learning, growth, and also to help others.
3. Whereas the Buddha took 6 years to find his way to peace and freedom, I must be patient with myself as I travel my own journey towards the same. I know I have come a long way and will continue to grow and move forward.
4. I LOVE how you help and care and guide us as individuals in our food plans and paths to recovery. We are all so different and you are the only dietician I know who approaches things from such a unique and individualized perspective.
5. Thank you for reminding me that isolation does not work. The days when I want to isolate the most is exactly when I need to reach out.
6. Spirituality is such an important part of our recovery. I truly appreciate the fact that you recognize that each of us may connect with our Higher Power in different ways. Our HP should not be forced into a box. We each have our own path and own special ways to connect. What works for one may not work for another. I so appreciate that you recognize this and help us each where we are on our own paths.
Many blessings to you and much gratitude for all that you do to me help me and many others!
Thank you, Cari. I do believe strongly that our recovery programs need to be individualized, and changed when or if the life situation changes.
I just saw your blog today and I really love what you have to share. I am wondering how to individualize my recovery program. I don’t know anything except OA. I don’t think that has been successful for me even though I have been in and out for about 20 years. Do you have any other information on how to make recovery right for me?
Hi Jennifer! Individualizing recovery plans to make them fit the individual is my specialty! I would be honored and delighted to help you! I am out of the office till January 3; but I would be delighted to see you when I return. Just call 610-275-3699 to make your appointment. Thanks for writing. Theresa