Whenever someone tells me about their diet – how specific it is, how healthy it is, and how good and right and virtuous it is, I wonder in the back of my mind “So what?” I don’t think this in a mean way. I just want to know – is there a point to your fabulously healthy or effective diet? What’s the greater purpose? For sure, many people follow their healthy diet so they can be healthy. Sounds sensible. Others eat a good diet so they can have oodles of energy, or endurance, or strength, or a slender body. I’d like to suggest that as good as these reasons are, they aren’t always good enough. Allow me to explain:
The field of nutrition has become a bit religious.
It tells us to follow its commandments devoutly and piously. If indeed we do adhere to our dietary system perfectly, we often have a feeling that we’re somehow good boys and girls – clean, holy, and assured of a special place in nutritional heaven. Can you relate? I’m still surprised how so many people are on a “health crusade.” For sure, I love health, I practice it as best I can, and I teach about it with a lot of passion. But I’m suggesting that good health and long life have their limits. What happens if you live to be a vibrant 100 years old – yet you’re a total jerk? The people around you would rather have you dead a long time ago.
Health by itself doesn’t always have meaning. Humans need a reason, a purpose for being here, alive, on planet earth. So what if you spend a ton of energy sculpting a skinny body. What else is happening in your life? What’s your skinny body for? What gift are you here to give others? Is your life purpose simply to eat vegetarian, or raw food, or low calorie, or macrobiotic? Of course not. We’re way more interesting and destined for far more greatness than being a finely controlled eater with a nice hot metabolism.
A healthy body is a grace. It’s a cosmic and earthly gift.
It might even be a privilege. Are you willing to use this gift to give back to the world? Can you see that the body is meant to serve a deeper and more beautiful purpose in life that’s more than just being pretty, skinny or healthy? Yes, it’s great to have personal goals, to feel good, to look the way we want, and to celebrate a little vanity. I’m all for it. But when the majority of our life force is being pumped into diet, exercise, worrying about health, or obsessing about weight – we waste the most important resource we have – our potential.
Oddly enough, one of the best ways to help transform any eating challenge – be it overeating, binge eating, negative body image, an eating disorder – is service to others. Our eating issues have us focus very intently on self. But healing often lives beyond our own inner world. When we give of ourselves fully, something magical happens with our eating problems. They naturally downsize, and our true power reveals itself. I see this all the time in our Eating Psychology Training. Our students so often break free from their own food challenges and obsessions as their desire to serve others is practically expressed.
So, not only do we teach a wealth of skills at the Institute, but we have students do deep and powerful work on self. We find some of the best counselors have their own journey with food and body that lead them to help others in a sincere and meaningful way. So you don’t just need a long academic resume to be an effective practitioner. Your own heartfelt challenges are perhaps one of the greatest qualifiers.
The world needs you.
It wants you, your gift, your talents, your service, your heart, your mind, and your creative potential fulfilled. It needs you to help others in your special way. The world isn’t so interested in whether or not you’ve been eating low fat or high fiber, or if you finally lost the 5 pounds. So yes, let’s eat healthy, look good, sculpt our bodies and have lots of energy. Just have a beautiful plan of how you’re going to use all that to give respect and honor to the Great Circle of Life. Good nutrition isn’t just about what goes into the body. It’s also about everything that flows forth from heart and soul, and how we feed and nourish the world.
What changes have you noticed in your life since you began embracing your gifts?
My warmest regards,
Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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