Food for Thought

Mindful eating & fulsome living

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The path of courage

What if the simplest thing made the greatest difference?

On what I believe to be a path of revolutionary proportions, I am often asked to explain how the relationship to food and exploring eating can be a transformative spiritual experience of immense insight and empowerment. In what I have seen, it brings you directly into contact with the emotions that are thwarting your thriving. It cuts deeper and faster than any other approach I know. With this in mind, I share a written exchange I recently had with one of my regular participants after the weekly “Daring and Sharing” call that I lead.

 

Hi Michelle,
Even though you said it twice on last night’s call, I still completely missed what I sense was the most important part of the call for me. It was right after your saying that when you fight the bad feelings it solidifies them. It was something about accepting them. Something like “it’s in the moment of acceptance that we………”
If you could please clarify, thanks!
Rebecca

 

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When we mediate our self-worth through the size of our body or conformity to certain eating expectations, we are distorting and diminishing ourselves.

Is eating helping you or hindering you from reaching your potential?

Do you have dreams for yourself? Do you know who you are meant to be but can’t seem to get there? How you eat can be a perfect way to see how you stop yourself from reaching your potential.

 

When facing challenges around mindful eating, an insight that often emerges for people is the spiritual nature of the process of exploring physical hunger and eating. When we mediate our self-worth through the size of our body or through conformity to certain eating expectations that don’t relate to our distinct and unique needs, we are distorting and diminishing ourselves. Adding insult to injury: the truly sad part is that we are doing it to ourselves. The intuitive eating guidelines–eat when you’re physically hungry, eat what your body wants you to eat, and stop as soon as the hunger goes away–call upon us to distinguish physical hunger from all the other hungers we have, and then lovingly, thoughtfully and attentively nourish all of them individually. Many of us use food to feed spiritual hungers, and then cannot figure out why it is hard to stop eating what we don’t really want to eat or when we don’t want to eat. But by feeding our physical hunger and only our physical hunger with food, we show up for ourselves. It gives us grounding that allows us both to weather what is difficult without being overcome and the sustenance to reach out in our aspirations.

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Don’t Let Your Mind Get in Your Way

By Sam Harris
Mindfulness is often taught as though it were a glorified version of an executive stress ball. But that actually undervalues what mindfulness really is and its true potential. It’s more like the large Hadron collider in that it is a real tool for making some fundamental discoveries about the nature of the mind. One of these discoveries is that the sense of self we all carry around from day to day is an illusion. Most of us spend every moment of our waking lives thinking without knowing that we’re thinking: a kind of scrim thrown over the present moment through which we view everything. And it’s distorting of our lives. It’s distorting of our emotions. It engineers our unhappiness in every moment because most of what we think is quite unpleasant. We’re judging ourselves; we judging we’re judging others. We’re worrying about the future; we’re regretting the past. We’re at war with our experience in subtle or coarse ways. Meditation is a tool for cutting through that.
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There is no vitality, no growth, no fulfillment in safe. You need to keep in the front of your mind that any kind of enriching life will require risk.

Why it’s so hard to be a girl

Vancouver photographer Vince Hemingson gives a snapshot of a different kind.
And it will take your breath away.

 

Girls are being held to impossible standards of beauty, at younger and younger ages. Their sexualization is leading to low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders. How they feel about their bodies and what they are doing to them is heartbreaking. Hemingson offered this post in response to criticisms he has received on Facebook about the physical appearance of his female models.

 

By Vince Hemingson

In the past few days, I have had people leave comments on photographs of mine that I felt could not be ignored. And while the majority of viewers raved about the images, I was astonished that there was a vocal minority who felt that they could criticize women for being either too fit or too voluptuous. That they referenced the Holocaust and concentration camps, farm animals and beached marine mammals in their comments was beyond the pale.

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brene brown photo showing I am Enough written on a woman's chest

I am enough.

How can something that feels so wrong actually be oh so right?
Why you shouldn’t always believe what you’re thinking.

 

Oh my God…what have I done? What was I thinking to share my ideas like that? Who am I to think I can be on a mission to spread the word about mindful eating? I am still working through eating issues myself. Who am I to think I can be a specialist in this?

This is exactly what was blaring through my head when I woke up Monday morning after two days at the amazing workshopping weekend “The Good One Hundred Experiment” for businesses and projects out of Edmonton that focus on the social and local good. Even though I loved the weekend, got amazing feedback on what I was doing with mindful eating, and met some truly fantastic people, my overall take away at that point was that I was a fool for sharing myself like I did. I was sure that the people there were thinking what a quaint little project I had but was truly out of my league, or what I loser I was for talking so openly about something that is better seen as a private and shameful issue that only belongs to weak and undeserving people. (Underscore the word shameful–more to come.) When I was thirteen and started to gain weight, I learned pretty quickly that my ‘go to’ position on my weight gain was to give the world the impression that it did not matter to me…in spite of all the pain I was feeling inside. That way, people wouldn’t be able to use it against me. Now, here I was some thirty years later telling a room full of participants that it was my issue, and it meant the world to me. I felt naked.

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The Quest for Women’s Equality: How Much of What is Stopping Us is in Our Heads?

I was grateful to be the keynote speaker at the Soroptimist International Club of Edmonton. In case you cannot follow the audio in the video, I have provided the transcript below:


Hello. Happy International Women’s Day! I welcome all the women who are here, and all the men supporting all the women who are here. It’s great to have everyone. Can you hear me alright?

(No!)

Happy Women’s Day. Happy International Women’s Day! So thank you so much to everyone for being here. We are here today on International Women’s Day, in my opinion, because there is still work left to do; equality still hasn’t been achieved. We come together every year to commemorate this and to see what we can do to change the world.

(applause)

The theme this year is women in history, women making history and, for me, women not making history. I say this because I am a philosopher. Occupational hazard is I look at this in generalities and ask big questions: What can we do so that women can make more history? To my mind, making history means great achievements in the public realm: social, economic and political as opposed to our historical limitation to the private realm. The realm of childbearing, child rearing and while you’re there housekeeping.

To have more women making history we need to have more women taking a place in the public realm. This is precisely what the Soroptimists do. We’ve already heard today that they try to help women in a social economic way, especially through education. And this is fantastic and this necessary work. But my question is, and I think there is a deeper question going on, is why with so many more opportunities today, why is it that some women don’t take the opportunities that are there for them? And that is the question I want to talk about.

As I see it, part of the answer is that it is something that is, is that it is something in their heads. I know that doesn’t sound quite right yet. So bear with me. I think you’ll be with me by the end of it.

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New Year, New You?

It’s the new year! That magical time when everything seems to lie ahead of you and you envision yourself anew. One of the ways that many of you will do this is with a slimmer body. Over the past year (or even the past few years), you may have put on a few pounds, and you believe everything would be better if you lost it. Or maybe you catch yourself as you walk past a mirror; you gaze uncomfortably at the reflection of a larger self than you realized and can’t help thinking that you’re not the way you know yourself to be. Either way, changing your body typically means going on a diet. But if you’ve gone on diets before, you know you usually gain the weight back…if not more. You think if you could only do it better or if you could just find the right diet for your body type, then it would be different. You end up feeling like a failure. But have you ever stopped to wonder if you are really the problem? Maybe diets are the problem. On that verdict, the jury is in. Statistics say and have said for years that only 2-5% of those who embark on a diet will lose the weight they want and keep it off.

 

Those who do “succeed” often do so because they are willing to see the rest of their lives as a form of diet. Even the “saner” exercise-based programs for weight loss do not fare much better. And yet one of every two US women is on a diet right now. Girls are going on their first diet younger and younger. More and more men are joining women’s “dieting” ranks. When you include diet pop, gym memberships and bariatric surgery, in 2013, Americans spent $66 billion dollars on the weight loss industry. Canada is not far behind with its numbers.

 

Why is permanent weight loss so hard? I mean really, it should be as simple as “less in and more out.” To add insult to injury, obesity rates in the affluent western world continue to rise. I believe that there are many interesting reasons for this, and will be writing a series of articles on this in the coming months on this blog.

 

The first thing I want to emphasize is that diets don’t work. Why not? Because they are based on deprivation, and deprivation sets up an equal and opposite reaction. Weight gain. There is a brilliant illustration of this in the aptly titled book Diets Don’t Work! by Bob Schwartz.

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Where women’s liberation has emerged, new impossible ideals of female beauty have also emerged, which are entrapping us. They are a backlash, a new form of social control. – Naomi Wolf

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