I had been working with my diet for quite some time and often found it difficult to put into practice – giving up food that made me feel under par after eating it, that made me want to sleep, or that gave me a rush of energy that left me feeling totally wired but less in control of my life. Often I would feel the effects, then the next day or week I was back trying the same food again even though my body had loudly told me, “Don’t do it!”
And so here I was after many years of overruling the very clear messages my body was giving me – now facing more serious digestive problems that required a much more loving and attentive relationship with food and a more specific diet.
Everything in me was saying yes to this potential shift in my relationship with food and I began immediately whilst on holiday. It seemed a good time: I was with friends to support me and the alternative foods that I could eat seemed plentiful and delicious.
So off I started, fully committed and with a lightness in my step. What was to unfold over the next two weeks was very interesting indeed.
Sitting at a round table of 10 people for dinner I picked up the shared menu and saw all the things I loved to eat but were currently off my diet. An uncomfortable feeling arose within me and grew and grew. It was a sense of injustice: “Why can’t I eat all this lovely food?” I was angry, I was upset and I felt left out. Here I was on holiday sharing what should be a lovely time and instead I felt I was being punished and was now sitting on the sidelines feeling slightly disconnected from everyone around me.
This feeling grew more as each course was brought out and passed around the table. The sights and smells were tantalising as I watched the food slip off the serving dishes and onto my friends’ plates whilst they discussed the taste and considered how it had been prepared. My own special plate of green vegetables arrived and I felt bereft.
Tears welled up as I worked my way through what I considered was a very boring dinner. I kept my head down, finished eating and quietly took myself off to bed.
Breakfast. My usual eggs were off the menu so I had to adjust to vegetables and fruit. Not so difficult this morning but probably ate a bit too much fruit to compensate for feeling I was missing out again and hours later I felt bloated.
I felt more hungry than usual by lunchtime. I knew that eating only green vegetables was not going to sustain me at this stage so I spoke with the kitchen manager to see how we could spice up my evening meal. I remained committed to my diet but knew some tweaking was required to support me both physically and emotionally. The kitchen manager was sensitive to my needs and I felt her warmth and willingness to work with me, even to the finest detail. I noticed just having that support allowed me to release some tension in my body I had not recognised I was holding. I did not have to do this alone.
Still a little of the feeling of being left out. I was sitting with a different group of people and when my own different dish arrived there were many questions from others around the table. I didn’t want to be different and I didn’t want the focus of my dinner to be the topic around the table. “Why does it have to be like this?” I asked myself. “Why do I have to be the one missing out?” I spoke with a friend later that evening and she asked if I had deeply considered how much I was choosing to now look after my body and how perhaps that could be celebrated rather than focussing on feeling left out.
Something began to shift in me as I could now appreciate the positive choices I was making towards my own health. I did not completely come out of the feeling of missing out for nearly two weeks. I had several tricky moments when I ate out at different restaurants and had to negotiate with the chef food that would suit, but as my body began to reap the benefits of the new supportive way of eating, so too I deepened my appreciation of my choices and my continued commitment to truly listen to my body’s response to what I put in it.
So how do you deal with all those emotions that arise when you are trying to support your body through making more loving food choices?
What I found helped most was to express everything I was feeling, from the tiniest sense of feeling left out to the oceans of sadness that would occasionally rise as I felt how I had treated my body so badly in the past: no pushing it down and no indulging in the feelings. Just simply saying it clearly just as it is.
Also appreciating my new choices at every possible moment: I cannot emphasise enough how much giving myself a pat on the back kept me on course without needing willpower or determination. With oodles of appreciation, my body and mind became a team that worked harmoniously together.
And finally I found there is so much support around when you ask. There is no need to stay stuck in the overwhelm that can arise with change… whether it is friends, family, shop assistants or restaurant staff. Even when you think things are too difficult, it is amazing how much people love to help. And as with so many things in life, the reflection we offer when making loving choices can offer much inspiration to others along the way.
It is several months since I first made the changes and my relationship with food is now very different. Despite taking some foods out, with my deeper interest in the ingredients I source and how I cook, I am finding my menu more extensive than ever before, which I love. I am paying more attention to what happens to my body after I have eaten and adjusting accordingly too. Some of the foods I had been avoiding are back on the menu again and others have stayed off. It has been a process of experimentation which is ongoing. And rather than being restrictive it feels like all the changes are allowing an expansion of what is possible in my kitchen, a deeper connection to my body and an understanding that its voice is the one that always speaks truth with regards to which foods really support me.
By Jane Torvaney, Physiotherapist, Scotland
Our Perception of Health
The Body and My Relationship with it
Love on the table
Thank you for your honesty, Jane; it is amazing what can come up when we start looking after our body – feeling left out for one, but what are we really feeling left out of here? We have let food become so much more than nourishment and sustenance for the body, haven’t we?
Our body will always tell us what food is going to work for us and allow us to evolve, but we have to first get over the hurdle of feeling deprived by what we eat as you have shared Jane.
Even the word diet has “to die” in it, the body is the most incredible, multidimensional amazing thing that does has to cope so much from us and what we choose to do with it
This is the perfect blog to come back to today, not just because of food but because of where I find myself in life. And it was the question your friend asked that really resonated – “she asked if I had deeply considered how much I was choosing to now look after my body and how perhaps that could be celebrated rather than focussing on feeling left out”. It just got me to thinking about the many times in my life where I have focussed on what I can’t do, or what I can’t eat, instead of accepting and appreciating what I can. Changing that focus certainly changes how I feel about everything.
Thank you for this article; for the honesty with which you have shared your exploration with food, in respect for your body and not from restrictions or rules, this is very liberating and inspiring.
Experimenting with what we eat and how we feel afterwards is a great way to develop the relationship with our own body and it being the guide for us to follow in what is right for us or not. Therefore, no diet set by something or someone outside of us is required.
I totally agree with Jane and yourself Michael it’s about developing a relationship with our bodies rather than just going on the latest diet that comes out. Listening to our bodies is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves.
The range of food choices that we get to choose from (like all of our our choices) are given to us by the energy that we’re aligned to and the energy that we’re aligned to is dependant on our movements, (our movements being the way that we move our limbs, what comes out of our mouths and our thoughts), which explains why going on a diet never works because diets come from the same consciousness as does over-eating. The only lasting way to change any behaviour is to change our movements so that we change the energy that we’re aligned to, which in turn then changes the choices that we’re provided with.
Food, food, food, food, food we are all either ‘consumed’ by what we consume or by what we don’t consume. It is literally a global obsession. What a distraction food has become, the thought or effect of food should never take us away from our connection with ourselves. Food and our thoughts about food should be simple, if it gets complicated or even obsessive then there is most definitely something there for us to look at.
Alexis this is a great pull up to remind us all that we are very obsessed with food. It has become a huge distraction which as you say keeps us away from our connection to ourselves. So what is it about this connection to ourselves that we shy away from by bludgeoning our senses?
The word that came up for me Jane to describe your relationship with food was ‘loving’, which is a rare quality to find in a person’s relationship with food. More often than not most of us have relationships with food that are punitive, needy, obsessive, dysfunctional and even dangerous but yours feels unusually loving, which is so beautiful to feel, as well as providing an invaluable reflection of what’s possible for others in their relationship with food.
I have found that as myself awareness grows, my food changes, it’s really fascinating how some foods I really liked to eat have just gone completely off my radar. In my late 20’s early 30’s I only had one meal a day in the evening when I got back home from work. Interestingly I seem to be regressing back to that way of life, where I would eat quite simply prepared vegetarian meals. I have found that by listening to my body I have deepened my relationship with myself and it feels gorgeous.
Discipline without Love is the harshest diet known to man – and deprives us of the greatest nutritional active ingredients: understanding and kindness. It takes real heart to truly change our life, in these big ways.
Discipline feels like something that’s imposed on us from either outside ourselves or from others whereas love feels like something that guides us from within, I’m not sure that the two can co-exist as discipline feels very rigid and love feels incredibly fluid. Jane demonstrated this beautifully by the fact that she actually re-introduced some of her ‘banned’ foods back into her diet. Had she been ‘disciplined’ then the chances are those foods wouldn’t have made their way back into her kitchen.
Being lovingly present in my body when I choose the menu of the day is as key as being lovingly present when I eat. This makes a great difference in the choices I make in the first place, the amount of food I eat and the quality of my digestion afterwards.
I have found that when I’m traveling and staying in different hotels the chefs and hotel staff are extremely supportive by suggesting how they can modify the menu to take out such things as Gluten and Dairy as they are finding that more and more people are wanting to eat in a healthier way and so easily adjust their menus to the wishes of their guests.
This is great news; the willingness to be adaptable in support of one another is very cool. And fun too actually. Because then there is the opportunity to experiment doing things in different ways and there is always learning in this.
Inspiring and confronting for those that can feel the harmful choices regarding food in their body. Every moment offers us choice and the choice depends on how honest we choose to be. Thanks Jane.
Being honest isn’t as easy as it sounds. I remember being utterly convinced that I was a very honest person, especially when it came to my self but I’ve since discovered that there was pretty much nothing that I thought or said that had even a smidgeon of honesty, let alone truth in it. I was totally unaware of the fact that pretty much nothing that I ever said or thought was true because the energetic source that I was aligned to didn’t provide me with that option. Over recent years I have slowly migrated from one energetic source to another, I am now more often than not aligned to a consciousness that gives me the option of being totally honest, which is not something that was given to me before. Universal Medicine has been incredible in providing me with information and tools that have supported me to align to a different consciousness.
It seems to me that what you are really sharing with everyone is that we can eat foods to dull or race our bodies so that we do not feel what is going on around us. We have become culinary masters of deception. When we start to make the changes we become more aware of life – for some people that is too much and they dull or numb themselves back down to a level they can accept. For some feeling the awareness and expansion this gives the body feels very freeing and so there is the curiosity to know and understand more as the awareness kicks in.
Great blog Jane – thank you! I think if we are honest we can all relate to what you have written and the way in which we have and/or are using food to avoid receiving and then acting on all the messages that our body has to deliver to us.
I appreiate your honesty and how practical you made the process of learning to listen to your body when it comes to food choices. We really do eat for the wrong reasons, a lot if not most of the time.
We feed and nurture our body with so much more than what we eat.
Your experience is very inspiring, I can feel the importance of expressing all that’s there around what is being felt, while lovingly supporting a change of diet. Thanks Jane
A friend recently decided to give up coffee which was their beverage of choice – they knew the reason they were drinking it was as a pick me up especially in the mornings to get them going. So they started to slowly reduce the amount of coffee and replace it with water – they went through a period of having bad headaches which was not something they were expecting and nearly gave up. Now several months later they feel so much clearer in their body the headaches have gone and they wondered why they drank coffee in the first place. They lovingly supported themselves to give something up because they could feel in their body that for them they were drinking more and more coffee to function and feel alive.
“I can feel the importance of expressing all that’s there around what is being felt, while lovingly supporting a change of diet”, if we’re able to lovingly express all that’s there around what is being felt in any and all situations then this would be such a powerful and illuminating tool.
What an honest and beautifully supportive sharing for someone who may be needing to make changes to their food choices. I can feel that it was the honesty of how you were feeling at the different stages and not holding back from asking for support from others which was the difference between listening to what your body was truly needing or ignoring its messages. The wise voice of our Body is one voice to be listened to, always.