food, love and the self

Our earliest notions of comfort and love involve food, snuggled safely in the arms of our mothers. From day one our brains equate food with love, comfort and security.

Within cultures food is a cornerstone of ritual, religion, spirituality and celebration. We gather around tables with loved ones, and sometimes with strangers. We laugh, cry, become open and vulnerable with food at the centre of the process.  It is our comfort, an expression of love and part of our heritage.

In her book Women, Food and God, Geneen Roth offers a beautiful understanding of the relationship of food and self. She says “ The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. No matter how sophisticated or wise or enlightened you believe you are, how you eat tells all.”

This first time I heard this I was forced to pause.  This was what I hadn’t understood for so long. So many years of trying to do better, to be healthy and strong, failing time and time again.  

I had never understood food as anything but something I had to do.  A means to keeping me alive I suppose. What I had to consider is what kind of life was I offering myself.  

In my perfect imperfection I had not brought the words food and nourishment together.  I had no regard for my “cheats” as anything other than failures. I used garbage food as a reward for putting healthy food in my body for a set amount of time. I punished myself with exercise if I had eaten unhealthy food.  This even included my yoga practise.

It was not uncommon to hear me say I was going to “eat my feelings “ after a rough or stressful day.  I made a joke of it in fact.

Whatever I did was never enough. I was reaching for a body defined by society instead of for myself.

I blamed unhealthy habits on hormones, stress and anything that I could, really.

The change came when I fully realized that I genuinely want to live my best life. I want to feel amazing as often as i can.  I want to have loads of energy so that i can play with my children. That i was willing to give up a moment of false bliss for a lifetime of the real thing.

Nourishment is different from food my friends.  Nourishment allows you to observe your meals with gratitude and love, to look at your meal and know you will feel empowered after eating it. Nourishment allows you to love your whole self, just as it is.  It allows you to be in the moment, to experience your life without the need to numb it or push it away or fill it up with products that mimic food.

Nourishment allows me to sit with myself, in awareness and love. And looking back, that was all i was ever searching for.

Written by Kristi Campbell