There are some people who eat an orange but don’t really eat it.
They eat their sorrow, fear, anger, past, and future.
Thich Nhat Hanh
I was such a person. Eating and drinking kept me in a comfortable, albeit blurred, presence. Six years ago, my body said, “Enough!” Ultimately, I turned into a nutritional research laboratory.
I wanted to learn to eat an orange.
Like health and sexuality writer August McLaughlin, I wanted to discover food’s “goodness… Discover what particular foods did for me. If they were not for managing weight, why eat?”
Employing different methods, we both discovered that food is fuel. The concept is basic but nutrition is layered in nuance. It is one thing to understand the nutrients in food; it is another to create a mindful meal.
Mindful eating is not about good or bad food. Rather than judgment there is an awareness of what each food offers us. We choose our fuel.
Experiment after experiment showed me that grains, starches, dairy, and yeast do not offer me nutrients that my body can easily absorb. No matter how many times I varied my hypothesis, the results were the same.
Acceptance was slow as was finding food that pleased my palate as well as my digestive system. Yet, the more mindful I was in my eating, the more creative I was in my cooking.
Only in retrospect do I recognize what a tidal wave of impermanence this was. I continue to experiment, sometimes returning to food I once enjoyed.
Always, I find the memory more pleasant than the reality. It is as if I “grew” new taste buds, letting old ones wither.
Regardless, it is mindful eating, selecting the fuel and accepting the outcome without judgment.
* From Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality, August McLaughlin. The essays in this collection celebrate women’s sexual empowerment. These are unique stories–compelling, insightful, and inspirational.
Aim for Even posts offer equanimity in daily doses. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.
Oh, I’m so touched by the beautiful mention, Karen! Much, much gratitude.
Mindfulness is something you teach us all about. And as you know, when we infuse it into our food intake, so much more than our bodies benefit.
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Your story in “Embraceable” is one of the most mindful I have read regarding disordered eating. I return to your story often. For that matter, “Embraceable” is a regular reference for me. It is such a remarkable collection. Thank you for it and all your work, speaking of mindful. 😉
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