There was a time when I didn't allow myself meals.
I would test myself to see how little I could eat, and meals were out of the question. If I did sit down to eat, I would push food around on my plate or take it home to "eat later," then throw it out.
Inevitably, I would binge at some point because my body needed food. My binge would be the entire fridge or a single bite—they both had the same energy of desperation, that same compulsive quality that felt like nothing else mattered except to get that food in my mouth.
Even today after years of healing and coaching women on their own relationship with food and their bodies, I still notice I sometimes sneak food.
By "sneaking food," I mean putting food in my mouth without really realizing it, without really tasting it. It's mindless, and many times hurried—in an attempt to "get it in" before another part of me wakes up to say no.
Even though I now eat according to my natural hunger, carry food with me wherever I go so I don't feel deprived, and enjoy pleasurable movement that no longer feels like self-torture, there is a part of me that just wants to eat as a way to escape, a way to feel good when nothing else seems to.
I am currently in Australia with the man of my dreams. I'm headed to Bali soon to be with friends. I have a job I absolutely love, a family I love, friends all over the world. And yet I'm learning that the one thing that matters most is my relationship to myself.
I can have everything in the world and still be miserable. I can be in the most beautiful landscape and still suffer. As a teacher recently reminded me, there's really nothing more painful than being unkind to yourself.
I have been sneaking food for the past few weeks. Throwing a chocolate in my mouth as I walked by the kitchen, grabbing a handful of chips off the counter, mindlessly eating pita and hummus while chatting with my man. I hadn't really noticed what I'd been up to until my jeans started getting tight.
Instead of beating myself up and being unkind (which only always leads to more bingeing), I decided to be kind to myself and simply slow down. As Tara Brach reminds me, "When I go half as fast, I notice twice as much."
So I slowed down and quickly realized just how frequently I was sneaking food. Just how often I was chucking stuff in my mouth without actually savoring it.
I placed my hand on my belly and sent kindness inward. I asked myself what I was truly needing that food was trying to satisfy.
I made a commitment to myself to only eat what I actually enjoy, and to sit down while eating. To eat MEALS, not just grazing snacks. In this way, I am fully present for everything I put in my mouth. And if I am tuned into what feels good, it is much easier to recognize what doesn't.
So far it feels really good.
If you have been sneaking food, I invite you to slow down, place a gentle, loving hand on your belly, and ask yourself what it is that you need. What it is that food is trying to satisfy for you. And tune into what does feel good so what doesn't will be easy to pass.