The Eater’s Agreement

When I wrote my first book, Nourishing Wisdom, I wanted to create a whole new approach to nutrition 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approaches to health and weight loss that populate the nutrition field, and keep the conversation in a stuck and outdated place.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
Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating

© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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  • 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!!

    • Marc David

      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.


  • Lisa Claudia Briggs

    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…


    • Marc David

      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!


  • Vicki Robin

    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,

About The Author
Marc David

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.