Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ANSWERS TO A READER COMMENT - GOD AND FOOD

FOOD - Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Br: whole canister raw green smoothie (Peach, banana, orange, spinach, agave)

Sn: 1 raw corn on cob

Ln: Veggie sandwhich w/cheese at hospital (2 slices whole wheat bread, lots of lettuce, 6 slices fresh tomato, onion, pickled peppers, 1 slice swiss cheese, mustard, a little mayo, ketchup; a small dish of icecream shared with Cliff (hungry!)

Dn: 2 slices toast with butter, 2 veggie burgers, veggie pasta - 4pm

Sn: 'sewing' to God, so no snack tonight. Not easy, but i'm hanging in there!

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A READER COMMENTS

Michelle,

So if you don´t believe in God, you will be fat/sinner forever...? I respect everyone´s beliefs, but that sounds just too jugdemental. Also it could trigger to eat more ´cos you reduce your eating quite much. And if you for some reason can´t give up one meal do you feel that you have failed even more and now to God?

Just my two cents.

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I've been trying out alot of new ideas lately, and I'm shocked, as a Jewish girl, to be getting so much out of this Christian book called, "The Diet Alternative," by Diane Hampton! I'd like to address your questions here, because i think they're really good ones!

I've written quite a long essay, but, well, that's me!!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hi there,

I really understand your perspective and sympathize with your frustration.

I hope you understand i just report what seems to work for me, and if it doesn't gel with you, I totally respect that.

"The Diet Alternative" by Diane Hampton and the beliefs presented within are, as mentioned, Christian beliefs, so, addressing your question, I will answer as i suppose the author would answer.

Yes, i suppose the author would say that if you don't believe in God, you will be fat and a sinner forever. That sounds horrible...and like we're cursed and doomed...but it's actually been giving me TONS of renewed hope!

Hampton believes that the binge problem is not caused by the kind of food we eat, but is caused by the sin of gluttony.

Okay, well, what does that really mean? Religious language can be so...hard to swallow. To me, I think "the sin of gluttony" means the basic drive to turn to FOOD for healing - instead of turning to God. When we are angry, tired, lonely, bored, frustrated...if we routinely turn to food for comfort...have extreme disabilities controlling food, and weight, it may be due to this "sin of gluttony." Others in the sacred realm would call this condition - being a compulsive eater...or a food addict. But, Hampton is a Christian, and this is her Christian perspective.

For me, it's actually kind of liberating to understand, if i believe Hampton, that "i'm" not a compulsive eater or "i'm" not a food addict or destined to be fat or a binge eater forever. This "thing," this drive, this fault, this "sin of gluttony" has taken up home in me...and i've merely encouraged it all of these years. Realizing it's not actually a PART of me makes me feel like there is finally HOPE of detaching myself from it!!!

You had felt that that was a very judgemental stance. All binge eaters and fat people are sinners! And yes, religion usually does judge and divide. That's just it's nature. Christian people would say all liars are sinners, all theives are sinners, all gays are sinners. You know what? If sin is part of human natures...everyone is a sinner. And i think that IS a large part of Christian teaching. So, i don't feel so bad being counted among the rest of us. We all have faults and challenges. Mine just so happens to be this "sin of gluttony."

People who don't believe in God are free to believe whatever they want, and to heal themselves in whatever way works for them. God bless them! It's wonderful to have religious freedom! No one who is fat or a binge eater needs to identify with this 'state' if it doesn't work for them.

There are many books on binge eating that never mention God, but carry a similar message to Hampton's book, which is: Eat when you're hungry, Stop when you're full, Eat what you want, Try to eat less to lose weight, and Don't listen to the lies your 'fat-brain' tells you.

Books with this message that come to mind are: Overcoming Overeating, Overcoming Binge Eating, all of the Geneen Roth books, [with exception to her new one, which is all about God and binge eating and the relationship between the two. Yet, "Women Food and God," is written in a completely secular point of view. Did you catch Oprah the other day when Roth was a guest?]

From my perspective, there is alot of sound wisdom in Hampton's religious book on binge eating, no matter what perspective it's written from. I find it relatable, even if the way something is written is expressed differently than the way I or you would put it, or more religiously than i'm used to. For instance, Hampton says that God gave us our hunger/fullness drives, and that we should eat according to them because he gave them to us. Any of the books i mentioned above would agree. But they don't bring up that God had anything to do with it. I don't think any of us would quabble with the fact that there is something inherently put within us to tell us when we are full and when we are hungry. Hampton, being a believer, says those drives are a gift from God. Are they? Aren't they? I'd like to think they are and I'm glad to be reminded of them, and reminded to abide by them, instead of, say, encouraged to count calories, or someting. I tried that recently. And let me tell you, I could only hold out so long counting calories before i finally gave into binge eating again. But, even if i don't believe in "God," I still couldn't argue with the wisdom in following one's hunger/fullness drives. This is how NORMAL people eat...but it's something WE never learned.

Having now switched the focus to hunger and fullness, all of a sudden, former binge foods miraculously lose their appeal...unless i'm hungry. There is such wisdom in this practice of abiding by our natural hunger/fullness drives. Tonight, for dinner, I chose a cooked vegetarian dinner. Paying attention, i realized that as my plate was emptying, i was getting more and more satisfied and any more food would have looked unappealing. I had been miraculously returned to abiding by my natural hunger/fullness drives. Whereas, just days ago, binge eating, there wouldn't have been ENOUGH food in the world to satisfy me. I must have been eating from my "gluttonous" state then. There's never enough food to fill you then.

A huge part of allowing our hunger/fullness drives to work correctly...is to eat what we WANT. As binge eaters, we usually have forbidden foods that we only binge on, that we don't trust ourselves with. Part of returning to 'normal' is now to wipe away those fears, those controls, those self imposed rules...and just enjoy and allow ourselves to enjoy eating.

~ ~ ~

Pardon me for sounding combative, but you seemed offended at the idea of incorporating spirituality or God in the idea of healing from a binge eating disorder. If you ask me, incorporating spirituality into healing is not a new idea. Alcoholics Anonymous uses it. Overeaters Anonymous uses it. People healing from cancer use spirituality to heal. The raw retreat i stayed at for 8 months was VERY spiritual, and actually a religious organization, a Christian one. But, that didn't stop all of the Jews from attending, including me!

Openness to spirituality in healing is a good thing, in my book. Like they say at OA and AA, 'take what you want, and leave the rest.' I get alot out of the teachings of other religions.

I am personally beginning to understand more and more that we are spiritual beings who need and hunger for this connection to something 'greater than ourselves.' People who go to AA or OA who don't beleive in God are still encouraged to find something they DO believe in, and turn their lives over to..."a power greater than themselves".

~ ~ ~

The author's suggestion to eat less meals than normal to lose weight is an interesting one, i find. The author explains that this practice has a basis in biblical history. People in the dessert ate morning and evening only. Not 3 meals a day, or the food would spoil in the hot sun.

Eating twice a day is a historical concept which she believes can help those of us still suffering (with binge eating and obesity) in modern times. There were binge eaters and obese people in biblical history. She explains they were the ones that constantly tried to save food for later, not trusting that God would provide.

And, Hampton explains, it may be more enjoyable for a person who is trying to reduce their overall caloric intake to eat 2 bigger, heartier meals, rather than eating lots of little unsatisfying meals. I know when i did Weight Watchers recently and ate 20 teeny low fat meals all day, i was more obsessed with food than before.

~ ~

I've often heard it suggested, "Don't eat after 6pm" in a secular reference. Yet, not eating after dinner can be viewed as biblically accurate. People had to eat their fill of what was offered, otherwise it would spoil. So, not eating after 6pm can be viewed as a Christian concept. Even if you're not religious, it's still a good concept. It's good for our bodies not to go to bed on a full stomach. I imagine alot of what we think today are secular teachings have a firm basis in biblical history.

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Hampton explains this concept of "sewing" to God (or giving him a gift) by denying yourself something - say, giving up a meal. If i give up food after 6pm to my own concept of God or if i'm just doing it because it's a good practice,....i'm still doing a good thing.

Hampton believes that if one 'sews' to God (by denying themselves food) with the right spirit of giving, graciously and willingly, in the belief that this is going to help you and be good for you, you will succeed, because you will have God (or faith/trust) on your side.

"Ask and you shall receive." When we ask for supernatural help, in spiritual teachings, we are encouraged to trust that what we desire will manifest.

When we doubt, we usually give up before we allow God to prove himself.

Hampton, since she is a real believer BELIEVES and TRUSTS that when she decides to give up a meal for God (or for her own good), He'll help her get through the trial. In her experience, He always does.

I've always been so enamored by people with so much faith. They don't doubt that if you believe you have the power to do something (because God is with you), you will.

This is actually really similar to the teachings of the 'Secret'. The 'Secret' says that if you believe you can do something, you will do it. If you doubt you will, you won't be able to do it. Mind over matter.

Or spirit over matter, whichever way of thought/belief you feel most comfortable with.

~ ~ ~

Hampton would probably say that the TRIGGER feeling to eat more after denying one's self was 'Satan,' and that we should RESIST that trigger, resist Satan. I don't normally talk about Satan, so it feels wierd, but Satan is a Jewish concept, too, so i don't think my mother would be too angry! But, i really LIKE recognizing that that trigger voice - the one that tells you to eat the whole pie, the whole cake, the whole refrigerator - isn't coming from ME. But, from 'somebody else' who does NOT have my best interest at heart.

Our sin, okay, our mistake, is that we believe those lies that we have to eat the whole thing now, or that we are no good, that we can't stop eating, that we can never follow through with what we tell ourselves, that we are weak, that we can't trust ourselves around food. Those are messages from an untrustworthy source. Those are not things that God, or a loving spirit would say to us. I personally don't have a problem now identifying those as coming from Satan. I rather like being able to say, "Ahha!" when i hear the voices telling me to do something i dont WANT to do, and say to myself, "I don't have to listen to YOU anymore." I used to listen and obey intently.

Hampton insists that we CAN eat smaller portions. Or give up meals. Or be hungry for a few hours. Or eat what we LIKE. Or eat a filling meal. And have ZERO negative consequences. If we do it in the right spirit. If we are not operating out of our "sin of gluttony," but are allowing our natural God-given hunger/fullness drives to take over...all led by a willingness to surrender to "a power greater than ourselves." That sounds like good new to me!

For me, being triggered is something i have struggled with my entire life. I get intense food thoughts and cravings. Finally understanding that the battle is a spiritual one, gives me hope to finally get in touch with the power to do warfare....and win!

Okay, so Hampton is talking to people who want to lose weight or stop binge eating, and in her experience, this is what worked for her, and since she's a Christian lady, this is how she talks. But, if a person doesn't believe in God, then giving up a meal couldn't make them feel that they failed God, because they don't believe in God in the first place.

But, if one does believe in God, and fails at giving up a meal, for instance, Hampton talks about 'repentence,' turning back to God for forgiveness, promising him you'll do better, and starting anew and afresh. Let's say you do your morning meditation and prayers and you say to God, "Lord, i will give up my evening snack to you for today," and then you feel like eating it because you're hungry. You have two choices. One, you eat it...and tell Him you're sorry. Or two, you bypass the hunger, acknowlege you'd REALLY like to eat it, but you're doing this for your own good, and it's something you promised you're really good friend you'd do. (That's how it feels to me at least.)

Wait, you'd have a third choice! You could eat it...in a spirit of rebellion and anger ("F.U.!! I can eat what i want, when i want and you can't do a thing about it!!!,") activate your "sin of gluttony," and end up binge eating. Afterwards, you'll not only FEEL horrible, you'll beat yourself up. And feeling so awful the next day, you're more likely to give in and do it again because you feel by now you're not WORTH doing good for. You're just a failure and you might as well say, Fuck it.

Take a deep breath. We ALL struggle with our sensual wants and desires. We all are rebellious. It's part of being human.

In Hampton's Christian teachings, we can forgive ourselves and turn back to God, or goodness, or doing good. That's what repentance is. Keeping our eyes on what we want...but knowing we did bad. It's just like "The Secret," which encourages us to not dwell on what we didn't do right, but to fill our minds with what we WANT...and believe we're going to get it. That's repentance. And believing you deserve it.

Hampton talks about 'condemnation,' the opposite of repentance. She explains 'condemnation' is Satan's way of making us feel like failures, and not God's way. She says, God knows we are winners. We just have to continually keep turning to God and not let the voices of 'condemnation' capture us. Those voices of condemnation tell us we're fuck ups and will never be healed, so just give up.

Look, after we do something we wish we hadn't we feel BADLY, and we usually tell ourselves things. (Do we tell them to ourselves or is 'somebody' telling them to us?) If we repent, we turn our spirit back to what we want and desire (to be healed of binge eating), having FAITH that God WILL help us, even if we've failed. If we get stuck in condemnation, we can't stop eating because we know we're not worth stopping. We've agreed with the Devil. We're hopeless. And we prove it to ourselves.

Labeling those abusive destructive voices i hear after binge eating as 'condemnation' is very powerful to me. I understand NOW that feeling guilty for doing wrong is different than feeling (and believing) that i am a peice of shit who will never succeed. I can CHOOSE to repent. Repenting, Hampton explains, means you know you have failed, but that you are not a failure and don't want to be one, so you turn to God.

I suffer so from these terrible voices and have suffered so long with feeling so completely out of control and like such a loser. I was particularly rocked by hearing the bad voices were not coming from 'me,' and that i'm 'good' in God's eyes, I'm a child of God!!!, and that i can succeed, and that i can stop hearing or listening to this voice that tells me to fail and that i will be a winner if i only have faith. He won't let me down!!!

~ ~ ~

Geneen Roth just came out with a book called WOMEN FOOD AND GOD. It's her assetion that how we eat SHOWS us what we believe about ourselves, and about God.

Do we feel there is never enough comfort for us? Do we feel let down by people who we were supposed to have trusted?

All of this shows up in how we eat.

I've just bought the book and look forward to pondering more of these heavy questions.

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I've struggled my whole life with wanting to believe in God, but always feeling like a failure. The teachings from the 'Secret,' really helped open the door to being more spiritual. The Secret, which is very, very Judeo-Chrisian based, as a lot of good teachings are, teaches that what we 'put out,' we receive back. If we trust and have faith, good things will happen.... This is something that i have been learning.

I don't think i ever learned this growing up.

I learned that food made me feel better, that i couldn't count on my parents to soothe and comfort me emotionally so i had better take care of it myself.

Hampton's book is teaching me that just because my parents did a bad job of comforting me, i oughtta give God a shot. There's a lot more comfort there than i ever realized.

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Another thing i wanted to bring up about this 'spirit of gluttony' concept is that for so long I struggled with what food i should eat. Should i eat raw? Should i eat cooked? How much raw? How much cooked? No bananas? No fat? Alot of fat? Gourmet raw? Which stops binge eating? How can i lose weight? Do i want to lose weight fast? Do i want to lose weight slow?

You know what? Suddenly none of that matters anymore. I think i'm beginning to realize that neither cooked nor raw food stops binge eating. Eradicating the 'spirit of gluttony' stops binge eating. It never was the food afterall. I had a spiritual problem. I turned to food for comfort, instead of to my Maker.

There were times in my life that i felt so filled with hope and faith (like when i was at the retreat, or when i discovered Dr. Christopher Fairburn's book) that i gave up binge eating. It wasn't the FOOD i ate that made me stop, it was the HOPE and the FAITH.

So, now, eating raw or not eating raw...is my choice. I can do it for health. Or because i realize i get more energy when i eat raw. Or i can eat cooked because i want it and am particularly hungry for it.

Some days, i'm finding, i'm eaitng more raw than other days. Eating raw takes focus and preparation. You have to plan your day.

Other days, i'm not as focused. Tonight i enjoyed bread and butter. Oh, my god, it was so good.

But, i'm not binge eating. I ate it when i was hungry. I allowed myself. No voices of condemnation afterwards. Or if i did hear them, i must have told them to shut up. Because id didn't WANT anymore.

Abundance. Food is suddenly abundant. I'm not afriad it's all going to get eaten up before i get my fill. It will be there for me. I can have bread and butter when i want it when i'm hungry for it.

But, if i should be weak, and binge, i know now that i can turn to God again and 'repent,' say i'm sorry for doing something i know is bad for me, and He'll see me through to getting back on track. I don't feel hopeless anymore.

My main goal right now is to turn from this 'spirit of gluttony.' I know if i can do that, one day and one meal at a time, I can do anything, and i can eat anything i choose, raw or cooked, fatty or lean, and i don't have to binge and i will eventually lose all (or most) of my excess weight...because i won't be binge eating anymore. I'll just be eating...normally.

And it won't have been because i counted calories or my steps or because i didn't eat any bananas.

It will have been because the 'spirit of gluttony' no longer lives inside of me.

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God and Christianity can make people angry. Forgive me, but you sounded angered by this Christian book and the ideas. Have you struggled with your belief in God, too? Or do you not believe?

If you don't believe in a traditionally religious view of "God," it certainly doesn't mean you can't heal from overweight or binge eating. I'm sure there are millions of people in the world who have lost weight and kept it off and who have overcome binge eating...without religion.

But i suspect they have all developed some sort of spiritual belief, even if they don't realize they have. We all believe 'something.' Even good psychology can be good religion, even though it's masked as "non-religious."

I've always thought that this saying was particularly on target: "good religion is never bad psychology."

There are SO many correlations and strong similarities between Hampton's book and other non-religious books on binge eating that I've read. I've read probably all of them! I tried ALL of the approaches, and have had some success with all of them, in the beginning, but something was always missing.

I still never understood why i would binge eat. I still could never stop binge eating.

This book, "The Diet Alternative," by Diane Hampton, really explained the matter, so thoroughly, so simply, that I've never understood why i binge eat more than i do today after reading it. It's not because my father hit me or my mother didn't let me go to the prom. It's because of a spirit that took up residence inside of me...that was maybe once a tiny bud, a leaf, but grew into a huge tree with thick, deep, dark, thorny roots. As long as i don't water the tree, it'll soon die.

I'm not sure that we can escape that we are spiritual beings.

I know what it feels like to be "connected" now to God or to the spirit [THAT'S HOW I FEEL WHEN I'M DOING WELL!!!!], and i know what it feels like to be disconnected [WHEN I'M DOING SHITTY], and i prefer the feeling of connection, because I just DO better. And that's what matters most to me, stopping this awful binge eating and this awful yo-yoing with my weight.

By the way, it is DAMNED HARD to give up a meal!!!! Someone taking away my FOOD???? Are you CRAZY?????

I'm experimenting now, VERY slowly, with stopping my night time eating. I'm finding it do-able, but not without struggle. And that's not even a MEAL!

Allowing myself to FEEL hungry, but not eat...is new and interesting! It's kind of refreshing!

I'd like to get to a place where i could give up more because the idea appeals to me. And the more i give up, the more i enjoy what i DO eat, and the more weight i will release and the more binge eating will become a thing of the past.

Becoming accustomed to feeling hungry and not reacting is going to take some time...and alot of faith.

~ ~ ~

Roth's new book, WOMEN FOOD AND GOD, opens up with the women at her retreat all having to WAIT to eat as part of an exercise...and they are ALL seriously pissed off!!! Taking away someone's food cuts right to the core.

But can we get to a place where we could be OKAY with that?

When we take away that COMFORT - the only one we've ever known - food - we can finally discover that we can be comforted in other ways...by a closer relationship with God, by housework, by writing, by singing, by talking, by connecting...to ourselves and others. Food gets put in it's place - to be eaten and savored and enjoyed - when hungry.

Or, if we want to lose weight, we will usually have to bear feeling hungry and uncomfortable somewha. Regular people walk around hungry all of the time and don't seem to be dying. Yet, the mere thought of skipping a meal for a food-obsessed person is MAJORLY FRIGHTENING!

It cannot be denied that many of us, myself included, USE food as a GOD. We worship it, we turn to it when we are in need, we love it, we pray to it, we think about it night and day. We really can't say we don't believe in God if we believe in the power of food, because if food is your God, then you believe in "a" god. And if you can believe in food...which doesn't even do what it says it will...it ultimately robs us of our health and happiness..., you can believe in anything. Better to believe in the real thing. The real guy. I think he's up there, do you?

I'm curious about the concept of God and Food and want to explore it more. I'm only beginning Roth's book, and am halfway through Hamptons.

We'll keep talking about this if you like.

xoxo michelle joy

2 comments:

Sari said...

Wau, that was one long answer ;)

"but you seemed offended at the idea of incorporating spirituality or God in the idea of healing from a binge eating disorder."

I didn´t and I´m not. As long as it doesn´t hurt anyone, I don´t care what methods one uses.

"Forgive me, but you sounded angered by this Christian book and the ideas. Have you struggled with your belief in God, too? Or do you not believe?"

Again, I´m not nor did I even tried to sound angry. I didn´t comment ´cos I´ve problems with God or something like that, but ´cos I was simply worried about you. If you think this it and works for you, hey, I don´t have a problem with it :) For a personal note: I don´t like when somebody jugdes other people (NOT meaning you!) or claims that that´s how God meant things to be. But again, if you feel this works for you, it´s all good :) You don´t have to justify it for me or anyone else.

'Pure Raw Joy'! HELLO TO ALL! said...

Hey, Sari, You're funny, i got a chuckle out of that "Wau, that was one long answer!" I get started and can't stop! I'm so glad you weren't angry. You raised really good points and made me think alot! The book does seem to be helping me, but i'm really grateful for your concern. Thank you!!!! I don't like to judge people either! Hugs, Michelle Joy xoxox