I have been watching my attachment to food. I often eat due to restlessness, boredom, trying to fill an emotional void, pleasure and many other reasons other than genuine hunger. I have been just sitting with the want to eat and also sitting with physical hunger. I have discovered that by watching the feeling without acting upon it, the feeling subsides. We actually don’t need as much food as society has programmed us to eat.
We don’t even eat because we’re hungry anymore. We have scheduled feedings: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. This does not include the countless hours we spend snacking. And most of us are saddled to a desk all day long which brings about the question, “Do we really need that much food?” Answer: No! If you are taking in more calories than you are using, you are inviting in all kinds of health issues and your favorite pair of jeans will definitely not fit anymore.
It’s all a vicious cycle with anything in the material world… The more you have, the more you want. Money, sex, fancy things, success and most of all food. So the more you eat, the more you want to eat. Food becomes an addiction and any addiction is just a mechanism of dealing with pain or general discontent. Anything can become an addiction, from food to shopping to alcohol and drugs or even watching TV and you can even be addicted to another person! There is no stopping a wounded human soul. It will seek out anything to make itself feel better. The most widely accepted addiction in our modern times is food. It is not an illegal substance, everyone uses it one way or another and it’s available, literally, on every street corner. It’s no wonder that people use food to make themselves feel better…It’s so easy!
And the scary part is that it actually seems to work! Lounging around on the couch with a box of cookies or a carton of ice-cream (vegan, of course) seems to be the go-to, cure-all for almost everyone I know, myself included. It’s comforting and delicious, but underneath the surface, it is still an addiction, an avoidance, a distraction, an attachment. Why not sit on the meditation cushion and breathe and just be? Why not get on the mat for asana? Why not go for a walk? Any one of these things will soothe the soul and calm the body and mind but we always turn to food instead. Is it because we are relentlessly seeking something OUTSIDE ourselves? Is it possible that we cannot accept the fact that what we are looking for is actually right there within us and has been all along?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m an Italian girl… Food is awesome! And fun! And delicious! And it seems to bring people together, but it can absolutely be used in the wrong way, just like anything else. It’s all too easy to use food for comfort. But sitting with hunger or with the restlessness, or boredom or whatever it is that is prompting you to eat, is a very clarifying experience.
See, when the body is not burdened with filtering and digesting and assimilating nutrients and breaking down food, it is clearer, cleaner and actually has more energy. Overeating is like abuse of your body because you are causing your body to work very hard, unnecessarily and for what? Why do we even need to eat more than once, maybe twice a day? …three times, tops?! Are we all marathon runners? Mountain climbers? Professional athletes? Definitely not, although that sounds like a lovely existence! The reality is that we are a society that sits at a desk all freaking day, staring at a computer screen and when we have to go upstairs, we take the elevator and to get anywhere, even if it’s up the block, we drive there in our car. So… do you really need that granola bar? Are you starving? Probably not… You’re probably just bored. So why take in so many calories? The body ends up storing all of those extra calories and it becomes excess fat, fluid buildup and inflammation.
And, let’s not forget what most of us are eating…
The sad truth is that most of our food is not really food at all…. It is processed and made in a lab. Our food is actually more of a food-like substance, completely deficient in vital nutrients. Nutrient-deficient food makes you fat, sick and starving! The body is still forced to process this food-stuff, but can’t really use it because it’s not nutritious, so it stores it and you still end up hungry. Welcome to the vicious cycle of food addiction. It tastes delicious but it’s destroying you from the inside out!
The body is our temple. It is our highly advanced, biological spacesuit that houses our soul and allows us to experience this reality to journey towards self-realization. It is essential for us to respect it and care for it properly. There is a reason that fasting has been a staple in spirituality since forever. Fasting allows the body to renew and recharge itself. It gives the digestive system a much needed break to rest and repair. This frees up an abundance of energy for other things, like spiritual practice. The mind becomes clearer, and cleaner, as does the body. The body will consume things that it has stored that it does not need such as tumors, cysts, growths, mucus buildup and other toxins. Fasting is like cleaning your house and creating space for something greater to enter.
“The light of the world will illuminate within you when you fast and purify yourself.” -Mahatma Gandhi
Our attachments to anything are simply assignments given to us from our Higher Self. They will teach us how to let go and how to simply be present. Just like any other unconscious behavior that we engage in, if we sit with it… watch it… create an intention to release it and resolve to work on it, sincerely, it can be overcome and transmuted into knowledge and Light.