Monday, November 17, 2008

Life on the wire

Midwife and author Pam England recently wrote an inspiring article called "Woman on wire" in the Birthing From Within newsletter. Even though it is essentially on birthing, it also applies to life in general, including our relationship with food.

The central message is that once we hear our calling in life we must be prepared for the challenges that come with it. Inspired on the documentary Man on wire (see trailer below), Pam England compares the story of Philippe Petit with the journey a woman goes through during pregnancy and birth*:

"Once we say yes to the Call, with every step, (whether a high-wire walker or woman preparing to birth), we begin to prepare by gathering inner and outer resources. From the moment Philippe heard his Call, and for the next nine years, Philippe followed his passion and mastered the art of high-wire walking. (...) Philippe was an accomplished high-wire artist, but he didn't bank on just thinking positively or past successes to protect him. He anticipated problems and found solutions."
I believe dealing with our often complicated relationship with our food is a great way to open to the higher callings in our life. A classic example are the people that change their profession after becoming raw. However, it is not always an easy path and we must be prepared to face the challenges lest they take over us.
Lately I have been going through an extra-difficult PMS phase and have decided to tackle it differently. I have never been able to go through PMS without binging and I am very tired of it! This month (before PMS) I was wondering if, in a way, PMS isn't a choice and if I couldn't simply decide to eliminate it from my life forever. Of course just thinking about it didn't change anything, but now that it is full-blown I have a plan. Once this phase s over, I will prepare in advance for the next cycle, just like the high-wire artist did for so many years before actually crossing the space between the two towers.
In case you have not been following this blog, I have binge-eating disorder (BED) and it gets much worse during PMS. I have used several resources to tackle the problem (even before I really knew what was the problem), such as:
- Years of traditional therapy;
- Journaling, blogging, and participating in online communities;
- Projeciology;
- Iridology;
- Raw foods;
- Colontherapy and enemas;
- Juice fasting;
- Juice feasting;
- Neurolinguistic programming;
- Reiki;
- EFT;
- etc.
All of these things were (are) WONDERFUL and have helped me learn a lot about myself and my journey. Still, BED persists, and it is certainly NOT because all of these things don't work! Often I just didn't prepare for the challenges. Yes, living on the wire is an exhilarating experience but it is also scary and we must prepare for the journey. Here are some sample preparation questions specifically for BED I will try to answer in my journal these days:
- What situations trigger my binging? How can I deal with these situations in a positive, assertive way?
- What specific people in your life that bring me into low-evergy situations and eventually binging? What can these people teach me about myself and how can I positively transform my relationship with them? If this is not possible, how can I end this relationship in a peaceful, loving way?
- What aspects of my life am I not happy with? How can I change them? What steps do I have do take to make the transition?
These days an image has been going through my mind. I am at the edge of a cliff. A turquoise-blue lagoon lies at the bottom, and my dream life is at the shore. The cliff is very high, but deep down I know that if I jump, I will plunge safely into the beautiful lagoon and will eventually be able to get to the shore. The problem is, in real life I can't even jump into a swimming pool!
So the question is: when will I let myself take the plunge?

*Article Copyright 2008: Pam England and Birthing From Within LLC .

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Raw food, mothering, and eating out

I have started to notice that one of the greatest triggers to my binging is linked to the need for “mothering”. There is one specific situation when this shows up particularly strongly:

When I need to cook.

Yes, I can finally admit it now: I hate to cook. As much as I try to avoid the word "hate", there is not much else to say. I also hate to uncook. Most of the time I don't think it's fun. I try to do it lovingly for my family, but it usually drains me. Even more so when it turns out bad (and my husband complains...).

Other than making sandwiches and snacks, my husband doesn't know how to cook. Our agreement after I started experimenting with raw food was for me to go on cooking for the family and he wouldn't bother me (not that I ever was a great cook...). Since then we have set up several other agreements which have all fallen through:

-That we only eat fruit in the morning;
-That we stop buying meat to make at home;
-That we have an entire raw food meal at least once a week;
-And so on...

The latest one was that he'd take raw soup at night as long as it was tasty, but I never really tried. In fact, most of these agreements didn't work out more because of me than because of him. The truth is, I want to spend the least possible time in the kitchen; thus, what I make for my family is what is easiets for me – the regular, cooked, omnivore food that I learned from my mom. I don't even know how a lot about cooked vegan food, since I went straight from a regular omnivore diet to raw.

Despite including some kind of meat most of the time, what I make for the rest of my family is not the worst thing nor ever was. It certainly doesn't compare to SAD (and of course we are in Brazil!). Since we got married, we agreed to never buy any cookies, excessively processed food, ketchup, mayo, canned stuff, or most junk like that. Eating out has always been more “liberal”, but our home is sacred. Additionally, people commonly eat a lot of fruit in the region we live in. Not as much as when we were growing up – as yards are increasingly being substituted by high rises in many cities – but still more than in other places.

Eating out ias another issue. It was a big part of the beginning of our relationship. Before I would have said we both love to eat, but now I know we are both emotional eaters. During my first year or so in raw it was weird because eating out all of a sudden had lost the point (besides being a trigger for binging), and I felt sort of lost. Now things are changing.

And this brings me back to the beginning. Eating out makes me feel “mothered”. Eating out = not having to cook = pampering myself. When I was a child, we rarely ate out as a family, so it had that “treat” feeling. Then (after everything that happened with my father), when I became a preteen I used to go to the mall with a friend exclusively to eat.

How to substitute eating out? I do not mean ruling out eating out whatsoever, but to stop using eating out as an excuse for eating junk and feeling mothered. Yes, there are dozens of ways I can have myself pampered, but it is hard to find something that provides that emotional “quick fix” eating out does, both alone and as a family.

On the other hand, mothers and grandmothers seem to have a great influence on emotional eating... :) I have heard all sorts of accounts of people who found out this or that trigger food (or a specific food that they couldn't give up) were related to their relationship with a grandmother or mother. Mothering is that magic button, that special kiss on a wounded knee, that hug that makes everything alright. Raw food and an overall healthier lifestyle brings about bliss in the long run, but it also uncovers several emotional issues that are hard to overcome “in the raw” without moments of pampering. The challenge is to create resources to fill in these needs in a way that doesn't affect our physical or emotional health.