Have you ever experienced a memory so vivid that you feel liked it just happened yesterday? You know what I mean. You are sitting on a bus and you hear some music from the earphones of the person next to you. Suddenly you are transported to a different time and place, without ever leaving your chair. The following story is a memory from over 30 years ago. It wasn’t romantically triggered by music, though- it was triggered by the smell of chlorine, while cleaning my bathroom.
Having just returned from a six month trip to Israel, I was sitting in my apartment. It had been an amazing experience, new friends, new sites, new foods-and I had gained 15 pounds. One of my oldest friends, Joan, who I hadn’t seen in several years, called me on the phone. “Let’s get together at the Jewish Community Center swimming pool. We can get together for a little while, and go swimming and then go out and have a cup of coffee!I really did want to see Joan, and this was such a good idea. Instead, I remember telling her I was busy. I said I couldn’t make, I had other plans. Perhaps we could get together another time.
Do you know what my real excuse was? I was too fat and I didn’t want anyone to see me in a bathing suit! Here I was, sitting in my apartment, doing nothing, and deciding against seeing an old friend because I was afraid of how I looked! I thought she would think I was a failure, that I didn’t know how to take care of myself anymore. Believe it or not, I thought she wouldn’t like me because I was fat. I just knew she would think I had become sloppy and lazy, and I was no longer worthy of her friendship. And do you know what I did next? I punished myself by staying alone and eating, proving that I was not worthy of being around other people.
How many moments have you missed because you didn’t like how your body looked? Rather than getting together with family or rekindling old friendships, we stay home by ourselves- punishing ourselves for a crime we believe we’ve committed: the crime of not of not looking like the models in the magainzes; the crime of wanting to eat the foods we’d like to enjoy, instead of the ones that are “good for us.” Instead, guilt holds us back.
Becoming “at peace with food” asks you to take a journey involving a new relationship with food. Instead of experiencing frustration and disappointment, instead of feeling fear and competition between you and the food you eat, food takes its place as one of the many activities in your life, along with family, friends, working and being active. And, like these other activities, it becomes pleasurable.
In order to be at peace with food, you need to learn about yourself and why you have the relationship you do with the food you eat. All relationships take time to develop and change. Your relationship with food is no different.
And when you become at peace with food, you will not being afraid to be around your friends, your family, and the food that often accompanies these get-togethers.
Life is too short. Please stop missing out on those significant moments in your life. Go swimming with Joan.