The Eaters Agreement
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When I wrote my first book, Nourishing Wisdom, I wanted to create a whole new approach to nutrition and eating habits that was fresh, real and meaningful. I was committed to discovering a way to talk about food and nourishment that honors the timeless wisdom in these topics. Like so many people, I was bored with the quick fix, sensationalist approaches to health and weight loss that populate the nutrition field, and keep the conversation in a stuck and outdated place. About 24 years later, the book is still in print, has been translated into 7 languages, and is considered a timeless classic. It’s a great lesson to have faith that messages from the heart are as important, if not more so, than those that issue forth from the head.

Here’s one of my favorite sections from Nourishing Wisdom that so many readers have enjoyed over the years. It’s called The Eater’s Agreement. I think you’ll find that it gets to the core of who we are as eaters – body, mind heart and soul. If it’s meaningful for you, then please share it with others. And as always, let me know your thoughts…

The Eater’s Agreement

I hereby agree, from this day forward, to fully participate in life on earth. I agree to inhabit the appropriate vehicle for such participation – a body. As a requisite for the sustaining of that body, and of the life that dwells therein, I agree to be an eater. This agreement fully binds me for the duration of my stay on earth.

As an eater, I agree to hunger. I agree to have a body that needs food. I agree to eat food. I recognize that as the biological need to eat is fulfilled with greater awareness and efficiency, the benefits of my well-being will increase. I further acknowledge that ignorance of the eating process may cause undesirable consequences.

Because the essence of my participation in life is one of learning and exploration, I agree to experience uncertainty as an eater. I recognize there are a great variety of foods to choose from, and I may not know which to eat. I may have a choice of different nutritional approaches, and not know which to follow. I may have an assortment of habits, and not know how to manage them. I recognize that my relationship with food is a learning process, and I will inevitably make mistakes. Therefore, as an eater, I agree to accept my humanness and learn as I go along.

I acknowledge that as the body changes from infancy to old age, so will the eating process change. I recognize that my body may call for different foods as the days, seasons, and years progress. My dietary needs will also shift in accord with changes in my life-style and environment. I understand that there is no one perfect diet.

As an eater, I accept pain. I recognize that I may suffer pain when the body is disturbed by my choice of food or eating habits. I may also experience pain when emotional and spiritual hungers are confused with physical hunger. I further understand that eating to cure a pain that cannot be remedied by eating may bring even more pain.

I further agree to accept a body that is imperfect and vulnerable, that naturally decays with the passage of time. I recognize there will be moments when I am incapable of caring for myself.  I agree, then, that to live in a body is to need the help of others. I also agree to be vulnerable as an eater. I acknowledge that I will be helpless as an infant and will need to be fed. I may be equally helpless when I am old and unwell. I further recognize that even when I am fully capable, I may still need the warmth and care of someone who can feed me. Therefore, as an eater, I agree to be nourished by others.

If I have a woman’s body, I acknowledge that I have a special relationship with eating and nourishment. I recognize that as a giver of life, I am the nourisher of life as well. Whether through my cooking or the milk of my body, I acknowledge that the union of food and love is a quality that marks my womanhood and has a profound effect on human kind.

As an eater, I acknowledge the domain of the sacred.  I recognize that the act of eating may be ritualized and inspired. It may be given symbolic meanings that are religious or spiritual in nature. It may even be joyous.

I further agree that eating is an activity that joins me with all humanity. I recognize that to be an eater is to be accountable for the care of the earth and its resources. I acknowledge that despite our differences, we are all ultimately nourished by the same source. As such, I agree to share.

I recognize that at its deepest level, eating is an affirmation of life. Each time I eat I agree somewhere inside to continue life on Earth. I acknowledge that this choice to eat is a fundamental act of love and nourishment, a true celebration of my existence. As a human being on Earth, I agree to be an eater. I choose life again and again and again . . .

Many people find this Agreement to be personally impactful. What part of the agreement speaks to you and why?

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

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  • Kate

    Wonderful! Thank you : )

    • Hi Kate,

      Thank you for reading!

      Warmly,
      Marc David

      • leah

        There is no such thing as coincidence. After typing a status on fb about my own truths, I realized I have a huge appetite for knowledge. I’m trying to find my purpose, I’m trying to dig deep. I came across you, whilst checking twitter, and you jumped out at me. I have tried EVERY diet, but I knew I was missing something deeper than calories in, calories out. When you said about being broken, that resonated with me. I remember someone saying I was damaged goods once, and I realise that I’ve been existing with that. That is my false truth. I can’t wait to learn more. THANKYOU!

    • I love the kindness. I love the call to attention. I love the reality of acknowledging living in a body that will get sick and age (I just had my 2nd hip replaced!!). I love facing the truth of making mistakes. THANK YOU. I’d love to have you see my book FOOD FIX: ANCIENT NOURISHMENT FOR MODERN HUNGERS.

  • hi marc, once again here i am deeply appreciative of your message. when i met you years ago i told you that this piece went where nothing had gone before and that i use it as part of the foundation of my work. wonderful to see it in full form here. i have been spreading your work where and when i can. happy new year. elyn

    • Hi Elyn,

      Nice to hear from you!
      Thank you for your kind words and for spreading this work.
      I’m so glad you’re out there in the world doing your great work….

      Best wishes,
      Marc David

  • Sandra

    Marc, that is a great message. This is a message I want to share with those I coach. I plan to go back and re-read your book. Thank you for all you do.

    • Sandra –
      A heart-felt thank you to you.

      Warmly,
      Marc David

  • Sherona

    This is brilliant. Truly genius, thank you 🙂

    • Hi Sherona –
      Thank you so much for reading!

      Best,
      Marc David

  • Kathryn Boyce-Piper

    You left an impression on me years ago when I was a student and read your book while attending IIN. I’ve been applying the wisdom I gleaned from your writing ever since and have been able to help many. Thank you,thank for the work you do.
    Blessings for an abundant 2012.

    • Hi Kathryn,
      Oh, this makes my day! I’m glad to hear that my work is having a positive impact on your work with others.
      We’re all in this together.

      Warm regards,
      Marc David

  • Kathleen

    The part about a womans body, being able to create a child and feed tjat child with your own milk is a blessing from God. I gave birth to 5 wonderful children and raised sevetal more, nutrition has always played an important part in my life especially as a mom

    • Hi Kathleen,

      I’m so glad to know that there are more and more mom’s out there that get it.
      Thank you for sharing your perspective here.

      Warmly,
      Marc David

  • Howdy! This article could not be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me
    of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this.
    I’ll send this information to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  • Bo

    Your words are powerful, what you teach is beautiful wisdom.
    The part about women and their relationship with food, about them being nourishers of life really resonated in me. Very strong, the moment I read it I got goosbumps all over my body and burst into tears. I think it was instant understanding of your powerful message.
    And then the last part, that is really huge for me. Eating is agreeing to live on this Earth. Eating is acceptance. Wow, makes me think about my eating so much more. Suddenly I am willing to be present when I eat or prepare food.
    Thank you for your work. Thank you for spreading your wisdom!

    • Hello Bo,
      I’m so glad to hear this resonated so deeply with you.
      Thank you for connecting and sharing your experiences.
      Glad to “meet” you here.

      Best wishes,
      Marc

  • Sandra Chikhani

    The Eater’s Agreement is so profund, so beautiful and so true! I’m printing copies and putting them on strategic places at home to keep it close to my heart.
    Thank you Marc David!

  • Suzen

    That was one of the most beautiful metaphors on life, nourishment, connection and purpose that I’ve ever read. Thank you Marc for your generous spirit and your ability to share the essence of life through your words.

  • Even 24 years ago you were a visionary, Marc. You write so well, and the Eater’s Agreement is no exception. And the simplistic beauty of it’s name….not a manifesto, not a doctrine not a contract or pledge…..just a simple agreement in which you weave together so aptly all the ways we utilize ( or may wish to ) this act we call eating. As I’ve said before, I would enjoy some day making your acquaintance. I feel sure it would be like old friends reuniting, chatting about many nourishing topics near and dear to their hearts.

    • Hi Ellen,

      Thank you for your kind words – I like the “Agreement” aspect as well. Suits it.
      I’m glad to “meet” you here – you’re always welcome to join us for any events we’re currently offering – perhaps our paths will cross someday in the future.

      Warmly,
      Marc

  • Kamila

    Very nice read. Thank you for that. Yet I have a problem that after living in Middle East for nearly a year in stress, I came back to Europe and experienced climate change. Winter is coming and I feel I cannot eat hot foods, as I was not eating hot in Middle east. Also All I eat for 3 months since I am back is potatoes, rice, bread with butter with sunflower seeds, eggs, ciniminis cereals and biscuits only. I dont know what happened to my body and why only these products, and why I feel I cannot eat fruits, vegs, meats or fish. In ME I was eating these, In Europe feels like I cannot. All my blood test results are good, and was tested for parasiters, Im clean. The moment I try any product other than this my body suggests ‘no, I cannot digest it’. Im also low in energy, but hopefully even eating only this I managed to gain weight 5 kg more in 3 months, so Im 55 now and I want to gain more weight. Do you know what could influence that change and how to get back to eat everything?

    • Hi Kamila

      I wish I could answer all personal questions such as yours but we cannot do such coaching in this format without asking a hundred questions and really diving in. We have all kinds of resources to help assist others. One is our directory of coaches… You can learn more: here

      Best wishes to you on your healing journey,
      Warmly,
      Marc David

  • Mo

    Wow Marc, Loved your eaters agreement so profound and true really inspired me to buy your book! Thankyou x

    • Hi Mo –
      Thank you for your kind words –
      I hope you enjoy the rest of the book!

      Best,
      Marc

  • Marguerite Paul

    I think the sympathetic nervous system restricts intestinal contraction when we are stressed, so nutrient absorption is compromised unless the parasympathetic nervous system sends signals from our being relaxed that stimulate intestinal contraction and absorption of nutrients. Therefore, I think angles mentioned in the “Eater’s Agreement” are influential variables in nutrition care plans. However, to measure such to fit date-based criteria would take time, interest, and formal, accredited study on a large scale, such as, an AND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) initiative or group. Otherwise, the concept, however true, will remain a fringe one of however widespread the anecdotal evidence not framed within the scientific method.

    • Your point, I believe, is that the scientific method is the method that must be in place to prove or support what we observe, see, believe, or even know.

      We cannot prove the existence of love, compassion, play, intimacy – yet these exist, and have powered the human family for eons of time. We cannot prove most of what life presents with the placebo controlled randomized double blind clinical trials. There was a time when many scientists refuted the concept of oxygen and air as vital to life – should this mean we refrain from breathing until such things are proven? The same goes for the importance of sterilizing surgical equipment.

      Mainstream science attacked this belief in the 1600s and 1700s. If you need such proof to believe in something, then this is a personal choice. All advances in science, psychology and biology began “at the fringe.” Life cannot wait for the sciences to catch up and prove its existence. Life is fired at us point blank.

      Best,
      Marc

      • Ruth McKenna

        I hear this argument all the time & intend to borrow your response if I may! I adore the Eater’s Agreement & love the sincerity & kindness you demonstrate with every blog post, comment & share. Thank you ☺

        • Hello Ruth, thank you so much for your note. I’m so glad that my message resonates with you! Warmly, Marc

  • Michele Melloni

    Hi Marc,

    I love this! The part that spoke to me the most was “ I further agree to accept a body that is imperfect and vulnerable, that naturally decays with the passage of time…..”. To me that’s very poetic and romantic. It also chokes me up a little as it reminds me of the fragile state my grandfather was in before he passed away. I had the honor of feeding him a few times before he left, during my trip back to Italy. Only 20 years earlier he was feeding me. How much I love him! On the other hand it’s poetic and romantic because when we step back and look at life, that’s exactly what we are…imperfect and vulnerable. And it’s ok. This will remind me to embrace my imperfections more and to accept my vulnerability. We are very small fish in a big sea, but often times we act like big fish because we’re so stuck in our little tanks that we don’t see what’s beyond. We don’t take a look at the big picture. These agreements do exactly that and that’s why they’re so profound to me.
    “…That naturally decays with the passage of time” is a so life affirming! There’s nothing inherently wrong with us, this is how it’s meant to be. This is part of the process. In that I find deep comfort. There’s no way getting around death. We’re only here in passage.
    Just as the leaves fall off autumn trees, we move on to different worlds.

    • Hi Michele,

      So nice to see you back and joining in.
      I like how you say we are small fish in a big sea – reminds us that we are all part of one place and that there’s so much to see and do and experience! The big picture is so beautiful and we so often forget it.

      Thanks for your wise insights.
      Marc

  • Sally Broadhurst

    I just love this so much!! Marc, you and IPE are so inspiring I just want to shout it from the roof tops. Connecting with your blogs and the Institute makes me feel like I’m coming home to the place I’m meant to be, it makes my heart chakra swell and overflow. Can’t wait for more and can’t wait for the day when I can add food psychology coach to my toolkit for helping others – thank you, thank you thank you!!

    • Hi Sally,
      Glad hear you enjoyed this – we look forward to having you with us in one of our trainings as well!
      In the meantime, we’re happy to have you as part of the tribe here at IPE.

      Warmly,
      Marc

  • Hey Marc….I picked up your book probably that many years ago when Canyon Ranch (Lenox) carried it I think. The words have lost none of their poignancy or power- and although I have been working with women around these issues for 25 years and myself have recovered from a binge eating struggle, seeing the precise issues named so beautifully still holds up.
    I believe that women being able to take their needs seriously is at the heart of so much of this and appreciated seeing this in writing again. Still have your book. Send many clients to the blog both from my online practice and from my new gig working for Marsha Hudnall at Green Mountain.

    Many blessings…

    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for taking the time to send your kind words.
      You made my day!
      I’m happy to hear it remains helpful for you and so appreciate your support of the important work we’re doing here at the Institute.

      Thanks for being part of our tribe!

      Warmly,
      Marc

  • I just found this beautiful Eater’s Agreement as I searched the web to see who else stumbled on a term I use “we-the-eaters” in my TEDx talk on Relational Eating. Having done a 10-mile-diet experiment out of curiosity about how well my food system can feed we the eaters who live on my island, I discovered a web of interrelated issues, from fertility to justice to local self reliance to nourishment to loneliness and more… what I bundle in the term “relational eating” and what I recount in my book, Blessing the Hands that Feed Us. I would like to publish with attribution your Eaters Agreement on my website as you also express the spiritual/social/political weave of a true food ethic, far beyond just weight loss or personal benefit. Thank you! We’re in this together. Vici Robin

    • Marc David

      Hi Vicki

      Thanks for your kind words, and for all the great work you’re doing in the world!
      Bravo… And thank you for your enthusiasm for the Eater’s Agreement.
      I’ll have someone on my staff who handles such matters follow up with you via direct email.

      Warmest regards,
      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.