From ‘get in my belly’ to ‘I am in my belly’

By Cali Cutler |

I’ve had many a’day when I have felt the siren call of the potato chip bag in the cupboard, “We’re here…. We’re so small you can eat me for an hour and not notice… Cali… we are here for you….so crunchy and salty….” And I’m talking the “healthy” potato chips, made from all whole ingredients, which are of course much better for you than Lays or Doritos. All justifiable reasons for zoning out, right? And I would of course, succumb. Usually I would eat them while I was watching movies on Netflix or reruns on hulu. Many of my clients tell me how much they LOVE food. But if you really love something, you cherish it, you pay attention to it, you are present with it, you don’t distract yourself while it’s around.
Until I started to get present with my food, treat food as if I actually LIKE it by paying attention to it, did I realize: I don’t even like potato chips. I found that I like the crunch and the salt, but they make me feel draggy and grumpy. It has been the same for bread. Bread on the table before dinner at a restaurant, a loaf of bread in the kitchen, sandwiches, bread filled an emptiness inside of me when I felt lonely, or didn’t know what to do with the next 3 hours, or just got done from a long day and now want to feel satisfied and filled. Then I actually sat with the toast or bread I’ve so long craved, and bit into it. I felt my body, my arms, my stomach, my legs, my head, my neck. I felt the taste in my mouth. I rolled it around on my tongue. I felt how it was spreading out to my entire body. And I realized: it didn’t really taste like anything. It wasn’t particularly delicious. It was just bread. Bleh. I realized it was just a filler. A filler for an emptiness that was going on within me. Now, I enjoy my food a million times more, and I feel nourished and supported by food.
Most people eat distracted. Do you eat while mentally multitasking? Or do you eat in front of the TV? Do you eat having escaped your body in some way? Practicing presence with food- grounding yourself in your belly, your center, being present, even placing your hand on your belly and breathing as you sit down for your meal does something astonishing. It eliminates compulsion. It eliminates overeating, and physical discomfort, and struggle with food- because compulsive eating is eating without regard to the body’s cues. Instead of numbing your body, separating yourself from it, avoiding it, soothingly steer your attention back to your body between bites. This is how you treat something you love, both food and yourself. When you are aware of what your body is so desperately trying to communicate to you, vitality is possible, and compulsion falls away. Come back. Be here. Participate in the juiciness food really has to offer. Enjoy this moment, for this moment is your life.

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