by Anne Mallat
I used to love eating cake for breakfast.
When I was younger, I would save a piece of my birthday cake and eat it the next morning. It was the best part of my birthday. Really!
When I was older, it became cake and coffee. I would skip breakfast and go straight to morning tea. It was my favourite meal of the day.
I came to realise I was using food.
I was using food to pick me up in the mornings, to fuel me through the day, to reward myself at night for a hard day’s work. I was using food because I was exhausted. I was also using food to dull my feelings, to comfort myself, to sweeten my sadness.
Once I came to realise this, I allowed myself to feel what each food was actually doing to me. It took me quite a while to go from each awareness to giving things up, to letting things go, but I have always been stubborn!
Gluten was the first to go. It made me feel heavy and tired, it bloated me, upset my stomach, made me sleepy after lunch. If I ate it, I needed more coffee, and then I needed more sugar. This was a fattening merry-go-round!
I really did not want to look at dairy. I loved dairy, especially cheese and cream. But it clogged my sinuses and ears and made mucus in my chest. It also comforted my sadness from childhood, and that was hard to face without it.
To give up dairy, I had to give up coffee. To give up coffee, I had to realise how exhausted I was. I had to look at how I lived my life, and how I ran my body. I had to learn to be more gentle with myself, to go to bed earlier, to live in a rhythm that suited me.
I still struggle with sugar. I love sweet things, and while I no longer eat pavlova, I still enjoy the fruit! Sugar picks me up, but it makes me feel racy, and runs my body in a rhythm that has me craving more. A treat is a treat, in whatever form, and now if I crave something, I see it as an opportunity to find out why. Am I tired, am I feeling sad, am I looking for a reward? Every experience, including eating, is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, to go deeper, to be more responsible for ourselves, for what we put into our bodies, how we live our lives.
What I have learned is that food and drink matter. Everything matters. What we use to fuel ourselves affects the way our body runs. We can nourish our bodies, giving them food and drink that suit them and sustain them, or we can run them recklessly, fuelling them with whatever is easy and tasty to get through the day, and see what happens.
I am continually amazed, at how amazing my body feels, and how great I feel, when I eat and sleep in a way that cares for me.