Life Lessons Learned from Healing Your Relationship with Food

By Michelle May, M.D.

Eat, Learn, Live

Like many of you, I was captivated by the book Eat, Pray, Love, a woman’s exploration of “the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India and, in Indonesia, the art of balancing the two.” And like many of you, I will see the movie (starring Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert) with friends, followed by a great Italian meal with wine and intense discussion about our own spiritual and romantic journeys.

The theme of self-discovery and balance of the body, mind, heart, and spirit has been an important part of my own story and the stories of many of the people I’ve met through my work. Unlike Elizabeth, most people who participate in an Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program or read Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat  don’t set out with such a clear understanding of the transformation ahead. They are simply sick of their eat-repent-repeat cycle and wish to heal their relationship with food. Many soon discover that restoration of their instinctive eating cycle is the beginning of their personal path to wholeness.

How can this be? Well, as one of my own teachers said, how you do anything is how you do everything. In other words, how we eat is simply a metaphor for how we live. As you learn to eat what you love and love what you eat, you discover that the lessons also apply to the rest of your life.

Happy friends at dinning table

Here are just a few of the many truths that I’ve learned and shared:

  • Transformation occurs when the pain of staying the same outweighs the discomfort of change.
  • The answers are inside, not out.
  • You have within you the amazing capacity to recognize and meet the deepest needs of your body, mind, heart, and spirit.
  • Food (money, work, perfection, etc.) cannot do that for you.
  • Our greatest struggles often provide our greatest lessons.
  • Guilt leads to shame and paralysis. Regret leaves the door open for learning.
  • All or nothing thinking leads to all or nothing. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
  • Mindfulness allows us to fully experience what is present in the now.
  • Sensuous enjoyment of food leads to pleasure and contentment.
  • Deprivation leads to distraction and obsession.
  • Quality trumps quantity every time.
  • Self-care is a necessity not a luxury.
  • Knowing what to do isn’t the same thing as knowing how to do it.
  • Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

So grab a friend, share a meal, and explore the life lessons you’ve learned through healing your relationship with food.

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