Is There Hope for Your Eating Challenge_

Every day, I’m impressed and humbled by the sheer number and variety of eating challenges that so many people seem to face. An eating challenge might mean that someone simply is eating the kind of poor quality diet that industry and media shoves down our throats that robs us of the birthright of true health. Eating challenges could mean the desperate desire to lose weight, and the absolute frustration of trying so many different kinds of diets and strategies that fail to give us long-term and sustainable results. Eating challenges could mean overeating, binge eating, disordered eating, and the many ways we reject our human form, perhaps even hate it, and try to morph it through diet and exercise. I’ve watched too many people spend a lifetime struggling around food. Perhaps the silent question that consistently runs through these challenges, like a quiet river, is this:

Is there hope for your eating challenge?

Hope is both a fuel and a fire. Hope allows us to move forward. And oftentimes, it seems as if hope is a distant memory at best, or at worst, something lost. But the good news, as the poet Alexander Pope reminded us of in 1734, is that hope springs eternal. Secretly hidden within every human challenge we face are the seeds for its solution. Really.

So how can we find the beautiful remedy hidden deep within our eating challenges?

Let’s get down to business. You deserve hope, and indeed hope is always trying to track you down, even in your darkest hours. But hope doesn’t so much rescue us. Rather, it points us in the right direction. Hope shows us the place where solutions are found. I’d like to offer you 5 suggestions for your eating challenge, various roads that you can travel which all lead, in my experience, to the place where hope transforms into healing. As always, check it out and let me know what you think.

1 – Change Your Worldview

One of the first steps to finding hope with whatever eating concern, or health issue you might face, is to notice where your worldview needs to change. We get locked into apathy and despair the moment we believe in an unfriendly universe that either doesn’t care, or at worst: is out to get us. It’s easy to think that we’re truly alone in our suffering, and that no one could possibly understand what we’re going through. To find hope, at some point, we have to see the world through fresh eyes. We have to notice the kinds of limiting beliefs that keep us locked into a cycle of pain and frustration. Changing one’s worldview isn’t easy. We get locked into strong beliefs about how we see life. Republicans stay staunchly Republican, Democrats stay locked into their Democrat-ness, and it’s easy to assume that our religion, our way of eating, and our philosophy of living is clearly the right one. Yet, one of the greatest acts of transformation that a human can do is to change to a better and more efficient way of seeing the world. Rigidity is death. Flexibility is life. If you need proof of this, simply compare dead bodies to living ones. So, if you’re ready to stretch a bit, then you’re ready to find the hope that you want and the solution that you need. I think these next four principles will help take you where you want to go.

2 – Food Challenges Are Not About Food

As odd as it may sound, a majority of our food challenges are not merely about food. Yes, it’s a great idea to eat healthy food. Yes, certain foods can be rather addictive. And yes, there are so many different kinds of junk foods out there that have the power to hook us, but, I believe that at its core, our challenges with food go deeper, are way more interesting, and more telling than we might ever imagine. In other words, overeating doesn’t mean we have a mere willpower issue with food and we need to learn to control our appetite. Binge eating does not mean that we’re complete and total losers who have absolutely no control because we’re fundamentally damaged. Excess weight does not mean that we’re undeniably lazy when it comes to food. And our inability to change our body to the hot and sexy creature that we want it to be isn’t because we simply need to get better at diet and exercise. Our challenges with food, body and weight are here for a beautiful reason. They have a purpose. They have a message. It’s time to listen to our eating concerns and cozy up with them like never before. Which leads us to this next place:

3 – Food is a Doorway

Our challenges with food, body, health, and weight, are essentially a doorway. They position us in knocking-distance of the door. It’s easy to stay on the doorstep and do all kinds of dieting, exercise, or strategies that ultimately don’t work. It’s easy to sit at the doorstep and wonder why we can’t find an opening. Knock on the door. It opens up right away… And quite suddenly, you’ll begin to find yourself in a new place with new possibilities. Of course, entering any new place or space can be uncomfortable. The truth is, none of us know where the door leads to until we knock and open. The doorway to our food challenges might lead us to where the real action is – unhappiness in a relationship, loneliness, past hurts, past abuses, unfulfilled desires, a lack of connection, a deep desire for people who understand us, a longing for authentic communication, the need for greater purpose in life, and so much more. Food is simply this symbolic place where we often enact these greater life challenges when we are unable to confront them head-on. In truth, the door is always open to you. Are you ready to walk through?

4 – Food is Teaching Us, Helping Us Grow

If you are ready to walk through that door, then the first thing we tend to see, in our brave new world, is that our relationship with food is here to teach us, and is here to help us grow. It’s as simple as that. You don’t need to make it any more complicated. I’m not saying it isn’t easy to deal with our challenges with food and body, I’m simply saying that in principle, there’s nothing wrong with us because we have a food, weight or body challenge. Life is a classroom, and for many of us food is one of our most faithful teachers. If you’re willing to be a good student, the learning will be forthcoming. You’ll need to study a bit, the tests might be challenging, but life will always give you a passing grade for your hard won efforts. For many people, this is a significant and powerful change in worldview. And I believe, an extremely necessary one. If we want true hope for our eating challenge, then we need to see that despite the difficulty of it, there is a hidden benevolent function within it. It’s doing its best to be a great teacher for us. And with great teaching comes great learning, and great results. We don’t always get to choose, so it seems, the lessons that we learn – but if you get on board with the wisdom of life, then I personally promise you that, within time, your eating challenge will transform into a source of wisdom, strength, and compassion.

5 – There’s Something Greater Going On

If you wish to turbo-charge the process of finding hope, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, for whatever eating issue you might face, then perhaps the last step is to awaken to the possibility that there is something greater going on here. There’s a wisdom to life that’s indeed intelligent, thoughtful, and profoundly more clever than anyone of us. If we believe in a random, loveless, chaotic and meaningless universe – then this will assuredly be our experience of life, and continued suffering is practically guaranteed. If you’ve been duped into thinking that there isn’t a powerful force of conscious design that moves and shapes all of creation, including your very important life, then this is perhaps the greatest worldview shift that any of us could make. We can never fully understand the forces of fate, destiny, and cosmic intelligence. But if we choose, we can experiment with being humble in the face of it all, and do our best to respond to how life is laying out our grand education. We’re all paying a lot of tuition to be in the school of life. Don’t let all that cash go to waste. Look around you at the magic of the world, notice it every day, and remember that no matter how challenging your eating concern might be, it’s secretly guiding you into your greatness.

Please join in the conversation: What kinds of doors have you been knocking on, sitting on the stoop, or walking through?

Warm regards,
Marc David
Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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  • Lindsay Young

    Hello All!

    Lindsay here from IPE.
    We had some server issues last week — which means we received none of your comments on this article.

    Please know that we read and respond to comments!
    If there was any question you asked of Marc, or experience you would like to share, we invite you to reach out again!

    Thanks so much for your understanding.
    We love to hear your thoughts!

    Warmly,
    IPE Staff

  • Rebecca

    I happened to “stumble” across this article via a friend’s Facebook post.
    As I was read each paragraph I found myself excitedly nodding my head in agreement and saying “YES!” to each point.
    As a person who has spent my entire life battling with weight and food issues, at 42 years old, finally experiencing life from a very clearer and more liberated perspective. I have also lost over 140 pounds.
    When people ask me how I did it, or what my “secret” is for weight loss, they seem disappointed when I tell them I simply learned to be kind to myself.

    So, thank you for sharing the work you are doing. Change cannot occur as a whole until more people understand that the societal obesity issue in this country is not just about the food, it’s more about the emotions and beliefs driving the struggling person.

    I wish you the very best!

    Kind regards,

    Rebecca

    • Hi Rebecca,
      I’m so glad this article spoke to you —
      I love that you found healing by being kind to yourself! Such a good bit of wisdom.
      Thank so much for sharing with us here.
      Best wishes to you as well!

      Warmly,
      Marc

  • Jan

    Love this. And the timing couldn’t be better for a re-posting of this, actually. I’ve been wrestling this past hour (literally!) with a real-time example of your point (or one of them, at least, anyway, LOL!): I managed to get through Thanksgiving week eating sanely, mindfully, and very well – and actually LOST a bit on the scale – and now that I’m home and found this out, I’m observing myself totally freaking out! I’m watching a total pull to things I just “don’t do” anymore – as if I’m needing to be punished for something (?!!) or been bad somehow (?!!), and now somehow “have to make amends” (to whom?!! to what?!!) by doing exactly what I’d successfully avoided before — I’m actively wrestling with a surprisingly big/powerful drive to dive face first into breadpudding and whip cream that had no inkling of temptation before — all this, now that I’m safely home and away from the Thanksgiving challenges I’d expected and Aced. No – there’s much more than just food management going on in all this. And certainly much more to learn – beginning with perhaps the fact that some part of me had perhaps put a timeline on “being good” …. yup, got through the family thing well enough only to lose it when home and alone. You’re so right – more lessons to sort out! Thanks for the safety of exploring these kinds of questions, and these whole big, unexpected, unSUSpected, and powerful dimensions of eating, “out loud” and together! 😀 Here’s to further adventures in learning – Jan

    • Hi Jan,
      Isn’t it amazing how many of us feel we must “atone” for our food choices?
      So glad you found this article helpful – and yes, the lessons keep coming.
      Nice to have you joining us here.

      Marc

About The Author
Marc David
Founder

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.