Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Bad Food Cycle

Photo by Chotda

I am an acupuncturist. Part of my training and my work with people involves dietary advise, so I've learned a lot about food from both a western and Chinese perspective. But I'm not sure it's helped me that much. I have a pretty good idea which foods are good to eat and which are bad for me based on the theory I've learned, and on watching my body's reactions to what I put in my mouth as I'm very reactive to what I eat. If I have a bowl of soy ice cream (unfortunately, I haven't had the real stuff in years), by the time I'm finished my nose will be stuffy. But I often get in a very bad food cycle.

I've never been much good at cooking for myself. I'm actually a fairly decent cook, but I can never think of what to make. My wife has the gift of looking at a recipe and knowing exactly how it will taste. I look at a recipe, even for things I've cooked many times, and it always looks like a list of ingredients to me. I can look at a fridge full of vegetables and have no idea what to cook. So all too often, I'll make pasta because it's easy and known. Or I'll pull out some instant food from the freezer which really isn't good for me.

To put this cycle in energetic terms: food nourishes me and I'm not very good at nourishing myself. I'm much better at forgetting to eat or just eating junk, which then makes me feel poorly, and it makes me crave more junk.

It's the sugar cycle: when you eat good food, you crave what's needed for your body. When you eat sugar, you crave more sugar. Sugar destroys the body's ability to know what foods to eat because it overwhelms all other cravings.

When I'm losing myself in the self-hate, I eat badly and don't nourish myself with good food. Then the bad food wipes out my cravings for good foods and leaves only cravings for more junk. So I eat more junk, which reinforces the negative cycle. And so on into more self-destruction. At that point, I can start beating myself up for not eating well, so I can do the self-hate on another level as well because I know so much about food I really know how badly I'm eating.

So how to break the cycle? It's not easy. The first step is to be aware of it. That the food choices I make are rooted in the self-hate, not in self-nourishment. At that point, it's identifying the foods that create the downward spiral. Decreasing sugar intake, and eliminating it if possible.

And from then on, it's mostly a question of will. Can I get myself to make one good meal or try to get myself to eat one or two good foods. Often, I have to force myself to eat a good food just to try to get in the habit.

Eating is something we do all the time, so it's a good way to know how we are treating ourselves. It's also a great way to feel guilty all the time and beat ourselves up for how we eat. I don't advocate the guilt. Nor do I recommend getting comfortable with terrible food choices. But like all things, this is an opportunity to negotiate with our self-hate and try to learn to nourish ourselves both physically and spiritually.

Photo by Wespionage

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