I have always loved food. Food and drink were what got me through the day, and the prospect of enjoying them at the end of each day sometimes made the day itself more bearable. The only trouble with this was that the food I thought I loved was not necessarily loving me back.
I grew up in a family that used food as an expression of love. Our lives were all about food. As my father was finishing one meal, he would be asking what we were having for the next. He and my mother spent a lot of time preparing and cooking food; my mother doing all the hard work in the background, and my father coming in with a flourish to cook a signature dish that laid the kitchen to waste. I was great at cleaning up after him.
In an era where food in rural Australia was rather plain, we ate like royalty. We enjoyed dishes from many cultures, full of herbs and spices, and tasty as. As for me, I was always looking forward to dessert. We did not eat sweets routinely, so when we did it was extra special and something to be truly savoured.
Every Sunday morning my father would ask us which ice-cream we would like and off he would go and get us one each when he bought the Sunday papers. He came back and delivered it like Holy Communion, and I received it in the same way, for this was my religion then. Golden Gaytimes matured into cakes, biscuits and various exotic sweets from around the world… halva, baklava, nougat, any ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ that had sugar in it, in any form, was manna to me.
As a young woman, this sweet tooth developed into a craving for alcohol too, and my idea of heaven was tiramisu, which in my eyes contained all the major food groups (fat, sugar, coffee and alcohol) washed down with more coffee and a glass of champagne. For a while I titrated all this food and drink like a careful chemist… eating really well otherwise and exercising regularly to compensate for the calories of my indulgences, but this kind of calculation can only take you so far… and slowly the weight piled on… accelerated by two pregnancies in which I pretty much lived on carbs to stop myself from feeling sick.
By the time I turned 40 I was weighing 85 kg, 30 kg more than my natural weight… and I was living on carbs and sugar and coffee by day, and drinking alcohol at night to bring me down again.
My core diet was still healthy, but there was plenty of padding on it, and on me!
I was struggling as a single mother of two small children, running a business and working in a demanding profession. I was using the food and drink to get me through, but also to help me not feel the pain and sadness that lay beneath my outwardly cheerful demeanour.
I was blessed to be introduced to Serge Benhayon, who helped me to realise that at that stage I needed the food and drink because I was so exhausted and depressed, but that the food and drink were keeping me in that state, and there were other ways of dealing with those feelings.
Slowly, very slowly, I worked on looking at how I was feeling and why, and dealing with the buried hurts that started bubbling to the surface. I started to feel how tired and heavy and bloated gluten made me feel, and that was relatively easy to let go.
Dairy put up more of a fight, for I was very attached to that in all its forms, but eventually the snotty nose, blocked sinuses, blocked ears and tummy upsets persuaded me to let it go too.
Alcohol was a whole other challenge, for I treasured the moment I had that first drink in the evenings, and could not conceive of just stopping and resting without it. I nearly lost my relationship with my now husband over my attachment to drink, but in the end, love prevailed.
And then there was coffee. I knew there was no way I could get through my working days without it, and had to deal with the absolute exhaustion I was living in and with, slowly pulling back my very late nights back to bedtime at a reasonable hour, until I awoke with enough energy to conceive of working a day without coffee. Even then I spent three days in bed with no energy to move and with a cracking headache, once I gave up that last morning shot.
So now I was eating very healthy food, free of dairy, gluten, coffee and alcohol… but there was still sugar. Sugar has been my most treasured food. From those early days as a little girl to now, sugar has been the thing that has sweetened life for me.
In the end I came to realise that even though I had made it all about the food, it was not about the food at all. I had to be willing to look at my lack of love and care for myself, and the emptiness and sadness I felt inside, and that I had been using the food, especially sugar, to try and fill the void.
This has been quite a journey, and not without its challenges, for when you start to stop using food to numb and distract yourself from how you are feeling, you realise there is a reason you were using it in the first place! Some of the things you start to feel can feel very uncomfortable indeed, but the thing is, we can never stop feeling them, we can only dull our awareness of the fact, and we have to deal with them sooner or later, so why not just do it now?
So now, at the age of 55, I am back to my natural weight and shape. But much more than that, I feel a sense of lightness, of ease, of spaciousness, of settlement, of grace inside me that just grows and grows with each and every day.
I still love my food, but I have learned to listen to my body, and it has shown me how to choose foods that don’t interfere too much with that lovely feeling inside me – foods that still taste glorious, but allow me to feel glorious too.
I eat really well and enjoy foods that are fresh and full of vitality, and flavoured with herbs and spices, and tasty as. I never feel like I am missing out on anything and if you shared a meal with me, you wouldn’t either!
I still get the odd urge to eat sweets, especially when I spy a new cake, but I know that the feeling I have inside now will not be there once I eat it, and I treasure the feeling inside me far more than the temptation of a sweet taste that lasts for just a moment.
Life is sweet enough, just as it is, and I am sweet enough, just as I am.
Stevens, J. (2012). The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — the largest, most important public health study you never heard of — began in an obesity clinic. ACEs Too High. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/
This blog was first published on Unimed Living