Are You Eating to Feed or Feel?
Hello beautiful souls. I'm sitting down to write to you nestled into my favorite little couch in my favorite neighborhood coffee joint. I walked in and the place is bustling with students and locals. The sound of the espresso machine hums in the background. The roasty scent of freshly ground coffee beans lingers in the air. Life is good.
Did I mention the abundant pastry case chock full of freshly made baked goods? Yeah. There's also that. I linger at the counter contemplating whether or not I need a blueberry lavender scone with my peppermint chamomile. Of course I know I need a scone like I need another pair of shoes (trust me I've got the shoe department covered!). But what I need and what I want seem to be in opposition lately.
A brief little bit of my history with food- I've always struggled with compulsive eating. I eat for fun. I eat for play. I eat for distraction. I eat for that full-up-on-life feeling. I eat to feel.
The decision to eat or not to eat hasn't been naturally lead by intuition for me in a long while. Let alone the decision of what to eat! Forget about it! I truly have to make a conscious effort to honor myself by eating what I want when I'm hungry, and walking away when I'm not. And not overthinking every little detail in the process.
I'm still learning. I eat cookies before bed when I know I'm not really hungry. And I pop popcorn at work as an excuse to get up from my desk and walk around. I have a hard time deciding whether or not to go with the salad or the fries with my veggie burger because of the non-stop inner dialogue. And I have a really difficult time leaving food on my plate. I'm not perfect and I'm never going to be. I don't know the secret to living a life uncomplicated by messy food-related tendencies. But what I do know is that when you eat for reasons other than physical nourishment, it's no longer about your body. It's about your mind, but even more so your heart. When you eat for love you're never truly satisfied no matter how full you get. You always want more because when it comes down to it, food does not love you back.
Of course it's always going to be a little bit about your body. But the desire to be perfect and thin and lean and clean and strong and perky and cellulite free and blah blah blah whatever, is not about your body. It's about something much deeper. It's about tending to your soul. And one does not tend to one's soul by obsessing about scones.
The real soul food comes in the form of embarrassing bouts of laughter and late night chats with your girlfriends. It comes in the form of live music and long car rides to nowhere special. It comes in the form of quiet mornings on your yoga mat. And cozy couch cuddles with the ones you can share silence with. And planting your first garden. And killing your first garden. It comes in the form of curse-worthy workouts. And smiles shared with strangers. And enjoying the sh*t out of the scone in full awareness. It wasn't until I started exploring my own spiritual practice (or lack thereof) that I finally felt like I started to get a grip on my desire to constantly eat. Exploring a deeper piece of myself opened up the floodgates. And even if what I feel isn't always "pleasant," I'm feeling. And I am willing to bet that most of us just want to feel anything, more than we want to feel certain feelings.
Like I said, I don't pretend to be perfect because I know it will always be a work in progress. But the difference between the me today and the me two years ago is that I'm no longer motivated to live a healthy life by guilt. When you abandon guilt altogether, you make room for a different kind of motivation; motivation that comes from a place of love rather than anxiety and shame and negativity.
So what though? Motivation is motivation, right? Not if you're trying to make sustainable, life altering, mind blowing, heart exploding changes. Not if you want to actually recognize happiness when it hits you.
When you feed your soul with the real soul food, that compulsive desire to eat mindlessly and overstuff melts away. When your heart is overwhelmingly full, your stomach no longer needs to be.
So no, I did not buy the scone. Not because I would've felt guilty about eating it. But because eating it wouldn't have made me feel what I wanted to feel in that moment.