Wisdom, these days, seems harder to come by. There’s all kinds of information being hurled at us from every direction. Sometimes it feels like every human on earth has a newsletter, a blog, and something to sell that will make all the pain go away. So, whenever I encounter wisdom and insight flowing from someone whose heart and mind are aligned with something greater, it feels as if the lights come on.
I recently had a rare personal and professional opportunity to interview over 35 amazing people, each one dedicated, in their own unique and compelling way, to uplifting others. I invited this amazing cast of soulful characters to help advance the field of Eating Psychology in an ambitious Online Eating Psychology Conference that, quite frankly, made more of a splash than I could’ve hoped for. I’d love to share with you some of the highlights that I’ve pulled out from the many nuggets of wisdom that were offered. Specifically, these are 8 Key Lessons which emerged that I strongly believe reposition the field of eating psychology in a very positive and powerful way.
I think you just might agree. Let me know what you think…
But first, some very brief context:
I have noticed over the years that researchers, experts, and various practitioners have focused their energy and attention strictly on the nutritional metabolism of eaters. Largely absent from the equation, however, has been a deep dive into the mind, heart, and soul of the eater. What’s more, even the nutritional science that we’ve largely invented has been limited in its scope and effectiveness. For decades now, I’ve been doing my best to bridge this gap and to bring an enlightened approach to eating psychology and nutritional science to the forefront. I’ve done my personal best through my books, writing, and through the Institute for the Psychology of Eating to share the kind of eating psychology that invites all of who we are to the table, and that includes the challenges not just of clinical eating disorders, but all the trials and tribulations that each one of us faces as an eater.
So far, so good…
My idea for this conference was to invite leaders from various disciplines who even though they aren’t necessarily experts in eating psychology – would very likely have some great “consulting” and advice to offer. Again, what follows here are 8 Lessons that emerged; themes I noticed that feel like guiding stars to better understand our relationship with food, and with life.
Lesson #1 – Eating Challenges as a Path to Wholeness
So many of us are taught to see our challenges with food, body and health as the enemy. Clearly, such things are a nuisance, and they get in our way of “getting things done”. Since eating challenges are seen as something we need to fight and defeat, many of the strategies we’ve learned to deal with our eating issues are centered around self attack, intense amounts of control and willpower, and doing our best to beat our excess weight, or unwanted eating challenge, into submission. Well, the important lesson here is this: the strategy of attacking our eating challenges simply doesn’t work. If you look closely, it actually compounds the suffering we’re already in. It’s time for a new vision. Our eating challenges are not here to make us miserable. Quite the contrary, they‘re our hidden path to wholeness. They’re the wisdom of the universe acting through us to help us evolve and awaken. Luminaries in our conference such as Amy Pershing, Marsha Hudnall, Joanna Poppink and Geneen Roth, speak well to this deeper understanding. It’s time to completely re-context how we see such eating and health concerns. And the sooner we do this, the better.
Lesson #2 – Doing Service
Most often, when we’re trying to heal and transform overeating, binge eating, a health issue, an eating disorder, or any unwanted habits when it comes to food – we of course need to focus on “me.” We read books, we talk about ourselves, maybe we get some coaching – some therapy; we see practitioners, we do all kinds of research, and we can live in an endless search for “the answer.” So much of our life force is spent on fixing ourselves that there’s often little energy and attention left for anything else but our problem. Oddly enough, de-focusing on self and focusing on service to others is a powerful healing force for what ails us. For many people, this is literally the puzzle piece that helps bring healing into the picture. Luminaries in our conference such as Vandana Shiva, John Robbins and Kute Blackson are beautiful living examples of how a life of service can give one the kind of boundless energy and inspiration that can help ignite others and change the world. So, if you’re feeling stuck in any kind of food or health challenge, find a way to give your gift to others and notice what happens in your metabolism, and in your life.
Lesson #3- Alignment with Nature
We humans have come a long way in the eons of evolutionary time. We have all kinds of fabulous technologies, inventions, machines, and medical strategies that are designed to sniff out disease, and hopefully give us some healing relief. As I notice the world around me, it seems as if the technologies we’ve invented haven’t delivered on the promise of health. Machines cannot save us. A diet of artificial food cannot sustain us. Living in toxic cities and environments cannot elevate us. And being far removed from the natural world that gestated and spawned the human family creates a powerful deficiency in body and soul. So many of our ailments can be healed or alleviated when we return, even in little ways, to nature. This is not a cliché, but may very well be an absolute metabolic necessity. Nature heals. Nature re-calibrates us. Real food, real water, sun, fresh air, feet on the earth, and the beauty of the natural world is a deep source of nourishment. Luminaries such as Daniel Vitalis and David Wolfe speak so very well to this profound and much needed healing power.
Lesson #4 – The Mind Gut Connection
It’s so important to acknowledge that a good portion of our challenging relationship with food can have a powerful metabolic component. Specifically, the mind-gut connection is profound because the food we eat and the health of our digestive tract has a direct impact on emotions, mood, and even our personality. Food allergies and sensitivities, along with the profile of our gut microbes are often the keys to transforming many of our cravings, addictions, and unwanted food habits. Serotonin for example, a neurochemical that has a wonderful effect on mood, satisfaction and happiness is primarily produced in the gut. Indeed, about 90% of the total amount of serotonin in a healthy adult is produced in the digestive tract. All kinds of unwanted emotional turbulence can be helped by repairing gut ecology and eliminating allergenic foods. The important lesson to be learned here is that eating in alignment with what truly nourishes the body has a beautiful and healing effect on our inner world. Perhaps one of the greatest voices and experts in this realm is Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride.
Which one of these key lessons speaks most to where you’re at in your journey? I love to hear your stories.
This article is part one of a two part series. To read part two – please stay tuned!
And of course, if you wish to learn more about the 1st Global Online Eating Psychology Conference, or to purchase the recordings of this one-of-kind event, please CLICK HERE.
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