How we eat is how we live. And how we live is how we eat.
It sounds too cheesy to be true. But it is.
(I can’t take credit for it. The fairy godmother of compulsive eating recovery, the great Geneen Roth, taught me).
The significance of “How we eat is how we live. And how we live is how we eat.” goes both ways, a million times around.
…Afraid that if you let yourself eat as much chocolate (or sweet potato fries, or peanut butter cookies), that you’ll never stop eating? That soon you’ll become as big as a house?
That same story, the “I couldn’t possibly do X; I'd ruin everything,” can show up in so many other ways.
Personally, I had this fear about food, but also about career and relationships: “if I leave this career path, I’ll never make enough money or be okay in life” or “If I do what I want socially, everyone I know will hate me.” And even though those fears weren’t completely delusional (sure, these things are technically possible), they were far less likely than other, more positive outcomes.
…Convinced that once you lose 10 pounds, or fit into those jeans again, your life will really start? That then you’ll be happy?
Have you also thought that you don’t have what you truly want in life (love, confidence, connection to others, fulfillment, a feeling of safety) because you don’t have the job, level of success, relationship, bank account balance, perfect dress?
This isn't to say that those things couldn't make you happier (sure they could!) — but do you sometimes get fixated on a particular happiness "button," and forget that there are many other things that you could also do to boost your wellbeing?
….Resentful of other people who seem to “not have to worry about their eating or weight so much.”
Do you feel jealous that other people have their relationships or work or family or productivity or just general comfort-in-the-world figured out…while you sometimes seem to be flailing?
Do you sometimes forget that other people’s outsides are never going to look as messy and chaotic and weird as your inside?
…Likely to ignore your hunger? Do you think “gotta power through this now I’ll deal with eating later” ?
If so, are you also someone who tends to ignore other aspects of self-care? Like, making sure that your body moves enough or that you get enough sleep or that your mind rests and gets to do fun things enough?
The reason why “How we eat is how we live, and how we live is how we eat” is so magical is because it means that if you face your roadblocks in any area of your life, it will help you in all of the other ones!
Once I realized, for example, that I could eat as much chocolate as I wanted without obtaining the body mass of an adult elephant (because I had a natural feedback mechanism that told me when I’d had too much chocolate), I realized that it might be possible to trust myself when making decisions about my career or relationships, too. In that way, dealing with my eating issues helped me change the rest of my life in some overwhelmingly positive ways.
But also, doing personal work on non-eating parts of my life helped me have an even better relationship with food, too.
At the end of the day, our relationship with food is deeply intertwined with our relationship with all other elements of our lives. That’s why an we need an integral approach to eating — one that emphasizes that all elements of our lives impact our eating, and that all elements of our eating impact our lives!
What common patterns do you see in how you eat and how you live?