Eating Apple

Image courtesy of  imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

According to Altman (2004,  Meal by Meal: 365 Daily Meditations for Finding Balance Through Mindful Eating, Kindle Locations 3867-3868, New World Library, Kindle Edition), Mae West once said “One reason I don’t drink is that I want to know when I’m having a good time.” I have to admit that quote caught my attention and gave me a deep, belly-centered chuckle. However, there is much truth in it. Now that I am on a spiritual journey I don’t want to let any of my addictions take away my ability to know what I am experiencing.

Much of what I have read this afternoon has called my attention to the unspiritual manner in which I eat. For those of you who don’t know,  my addictions include both compulsive eating and alcoholism. I have been in recovery from alcohol for over three decades, but my eating is another story. I have to practice “controlled eating” every day if I am to live—-something I would never try doing with alcohol. I can sometimes go for months and years at a time letting my Higher Power guide my eating, but there always comes that time when I want to “try it on my own again.”

Not surprisingly, my excursions back into self-controlled eating lead to weight gain and feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, and, yes, shame that I have “fallen into the same old hole again.” The good news now though is I don’t have to fall as far—-or fall to the point that I almost die. I can’t seem to tolerate feeling “distanced from God” these days; and that is what happens when I take control of my food back from my Higher Power. He helps me recognize the negative physical and psychological consequences my unhealthy eating triggers, and I realize that once again my own addictive behavior has kept me from fully enjoying and appreciating God’s grace. These periods of “slip time” don’t last nearly as long as they used to, and I don’t know if it is because I am more spiritual or have just grown older and wiser. I know part of it is that I have “tasted” the grace of being 100% in relationship with my Higher Power and  it gets harder and harder to tolerate the self-imposed vacations I take from that level of closeness.  So, I think Mae West was right—I want to fully appreciate being a human being walking hand in hand with God, and I am less and less attracted to doing anything that takes me away from that—-which, in my case, is drinking alcohol or compulsively eating—eating my way, when I want, and how I want. See that word “I” starting to assert itself? For me, that is the word that usually ruins things.

Very quickly in closing, I want to share some advice from the author cited at the beginning of today’s blog (Donald Altman). I think his suggestions will help me learn to eat in a healthier, more mindful manner.  Basically he suggests taking a breath between bites and focusing on your breathing. He suggests concentrating on being aware of the taste, smell, texture, etc. of the food in your mouth. His instruction to “chew up to twenty-five times before swallowing” (Kindle Locations 3644-3648) will be the hardest one for me to follow; however, something tells me the breathing and extensive chewing are both extremely important practices for me to adopt. Of course, it is also important to be aware of feelings and emotions associated with eating.  I can tell that I have NOT been a mindful eater in the past—-and that Mae West would say I’ve probably missed out on a good time! God bless and keep you.

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