I have often heard it said that our relationship with food mimics our relationship with life. I have been thinking about this a great deal lately, as it seems to be true in my life. As someone who suffered from an eating disorder for years, my rigidly controlled eating patterns gave me solace. I knew exactly how many calories I was going to eat every day. And I knew I was not going to gain weight. As someone who tends to fear uncertainty, this control was very comforting to me.
It was also very limiting, however. I couldn’t go out to dinner with friends – or to any social function where there would be food. And when I did, I made up excuses for why I wasn’t eating. It was unhealthy both for my body and my spirit. I wanted so deeply to change, but I was afraid of the unknown. I couldn’t envision my life without the constraints I had so carefully built up. Eventually, however, my desire to change and be free of my self-imposed limitations overcame my fear of the unknown and I was able to dramatically change my eating habits. Suddenly, I found myself going to restaurants and cooking more than I ever had in the past. I was actually enjoying food. It was an overnight transformation that was actually years in the making.
Recently, I have been experiencing the same emotions in other areas of my life. I still fear uncertainty, and it is sometimes difficult for me to have faith in my decisions. The result is that I often stagnate, unable to choose a path. I realize that this way of relating to the world is, on some level, a choice. I could choose to have more faith. But I haven’t because I can’t yet see what my life would be like if I were to suddenly be able to make decisions without the endless analysis and doubt. The very fear of uncertainty that I want to conquer is what is keeping me from progressing. But just as I did when I changed my eating habits, I know I will get to the point where my desire to move away from habits that no longer serve me will one day overcome my fears.
And I am certain I am not the only one to recognize the parallels between the ways in which I approach food and other patterns in my life. Our attitudes toward food are a valuable window into deeper emotional issues. Therefore, exploring our eating habits cam be healing both for the body and the spirit.