(If you need it, this is your warning that this post touches on eating disorders and body image.)
Any spiritual path worth pursuing is going to have a foundation of core tenets. In my case, the ideas responsibility and accountability are the rocks on which everything else is built. Over the years, I think I’ve done a decent job of upholding those two things. There may have been missteps and errors along the way (hey, human here!), but I’ve learned these lessons pretty well. There is no blaming others or circumstances when my actions and choices have lead to unwanted consequences. Even when circumstances are entirely beyond my control, how I respond to those circumstances is still my choice and I am accountable for that choice.
All of this being responsible and accountable works well overall… until it comes to my relationship with food. The minute food enters the equation, those tenets become a fiery train-wreck. There’s a few reasons for this – food scarcity as a kid, an abundance of food being closely associated with celebrations and love, and many years of emotional eating as a result. I tend not to take any responsibility for what, when and how I eat; holding myself accountable for my relationship with food simply does not happen. The thought of doing so scares the hell out of me because I know that, even with serious chronic health issues, this is the area where I am least healthy.
When you have a dysfunctional relationship with food, you cannot hide it over the long term. If your waistline doesn’t give it away, then your eating habits will. A friend who had stayed with me for a few weeks pointed out how very different the food I talked about eating was different than what I’d cooked for her. I’d fed her made-from-scratch bread, healthy lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables. I talked about (and ate) whatever junk was available, with little thought to the consequences or nutritional value. Do I usually give thought to any responsibility I might have for this dietary mess? Not really.
With the new year, I began to make efforts to change how I nourish my body, to take as much responsibility for what goes into my mouth as for what comes out of it. Because there has been a disconnect between the spiritual and physical for a long time, one of the things that I am trying to do is to bring a spiritual element into the larger plan. I fell out of the habit of saying a prayer over mundane meals long ago, so it seemed a good place to begin. I am working on other ideas on how to make this connection between body and spirit, but those will be stories for another day. For now, to begin is enough.