Gratitude for the Struggle

By Michelle May, M.D.

Gratefulness-Makes-Us-HappyHere in the U.S., tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day to count our blessings—and of course, eat a lot of delicious foods!

As I think about all that I am grateful for, including the fact that a day centered around eating is no longer a problem for me, I realize that I am so very grateful for my struggle with food! If you are still stuck in that place, it may seem odd to hear that, but I mean it.

You see, there’s a saying, “how you do anything is how you do everything.” How I was “doing” food was how I was doing the rest of my life: Striving, perfectionism, and approval-seeking. These behaviors tend to be rewarded in our culture, but it comes at a high price: Insecurity, shame, and exhaustion.

In my relationship with food, these tendencies caused me to succumb to diet-culture, the belief that my body wasn’t good enough and that “out there” somewhere was an eating and exercise plan that would “fix” it. Being the striving, perfectionist I was, I could follow a diet to the letter—until I couldn’t. My belief that I was either doing it “right” or doing it “wrong” inevitably caused me to give up, binge, then repeat the process all over again.

When I learned that there was a whole other way to “do” food that didn’t require rules, perfection, or rigidity, it was a huge relief! It took a while to figure out how to make this giant shift, but it made all the difference in the world!

And then, this shift began to make its way into my other thoughts and behaviors. I discovered that there was a whole other way to “do” my life that didn’t require rigidity, striving, and perfection. In place of insecurity, shame, and exhaustion, I am cultivating presence, peace, and purpose. Amazingly, resolving my struggle with food became a gift that has made my entire life better. And for that, I am so grateful!

Whether you live in the U.S. or elsewhere, I hope you will take a few moments to count your blessings—and consider whether some of the difficulties in your life have brought lessons and gifts that you can be grateful for too.

Want more like this? Free download: 101 Things to Do Besides Eat when you subscribe to our Mindful Eating E-Newsletter!

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin