Food For Thought: The Last Diet You Will Ever Need
By Debbie Eisenstadt Mandel
If your day consists of shopping at specialty markets, measuring portions, calculating points for meals, writing in a diet journal, then you are obsessed with food. The dieting process is counter-productive because all you do is think about eating. You are restricted to eat only: red foods, protein, carbohydrates, foods from South Beach, or cabbage soup and surprisingly you believe the inherent science. Why are you still trying another exotic diet? Why is your weight yo-yoing? Are you still rubbing the magic lamp wishing for a diet genie?
Please awaken to the understanding: change on the inside before you can change on the outside. Around the 1960ís when the emaciated model Twiggy reigned, food-nourishment, comfort and delight- became the enemy. Concurrently, food began to metamorphose into processed, fatty and sugary substances, quickly cooked and consumed.
Every culture says Grace before eating, thanking the Divine for soul food. Therefore we should choose wisely. We need to think about eating healthy foods to create energy and joy for both body and soul. You are what you eat. Prepare a lovely setting, sit down and taste the food. The rest: figure, skin tone, fitness, self-esteem will follow.
However, when we eat only to fill up not tasting our food, our hearts are empty. If we drink alcohol to excess, we numb ourselves. Similarly, if we keep eating, we make up for a sense of loss. But you know what everyone says about too much of a good thing. After we have eaten too much, we feel disappointed in our lack of self-control; moreover we might even have a stomachache. The stomach is the solar plexus, the ego center. Each time we overeat, we injure our self-esteem. We are now out of balance and unhappier.
To take control of the runaway food situation we have to respectfully embrace the body. Humans are born complete, beautiful and do not feel defective. The Bible says that we are created in Godís image. Then the people we encounter become our looking glass. We internalize their reflections. We flip through magazine photos of air brushed models, one size fits all -- we donít measure up. Internalizing unrealistic expectations, we hang our heads down. ďIf I canít be a size 4 with a chiseled nose, Iíll eat a container of ice-cream.Ē
Animals have it easier because they donít buy clothes. They donít look at their thighs and think-- too big. We need to strip away the superficialities, seeing ourselves within the context of mind and body, not just body. While we need to be reflected in othersí eyes for reality, we also need to cultivate self-reliance to track our personal path. Too often we dress to please others and say what others want to hear. We become accommodating losing our true identity. We suppress our needs, hungry for self-expression, we eat.
But what if we look in the mirror and donít like what we see? Perhaps we have put on too many flabby pounds. We are empowered to act and change. When Michelangelo sculpted the David, he took away what David was not. We can freely select food, portions and frequency. We can exercise and weight-train to create true substanceócore strength. We can be rounded, but let us have muscles and strong bones under the fat!
Many of us are unable to select wisely when stressed or negative. The solution is to reinterpret the scenario with love, forgiveness and compassion. There is simply no room to eat quantities of unhealthy foods when filled with love. For those skeptical about reinterpreting, note that anything can be reinterpreted. For example; one could claim that Hansel and Gretel were juvenile delinquents who ate a senior citizen out of house and home, shoving her in the oven. There are no absolute truths.
A positive visualization is the key to weight loss. Donít view yourself as fat. Rather, see yourself as healthy and beautiful after you lose weight. The mind is drawn to the images you conjure up and the body fulfills them. If you image the word fat, the mind doesnít pay attention to the words, donít want to be, rather the mind thinks, oh, you want to be fat! The body actualizes the wish. Therefore see yourself as gorgeous-- think and act that way.
To help facilitate a positive perspective choose a body part that you like, hair, hands, eyes, etc. Meditate on that body part and thank it for always serving you. Gradually with each meditation, you will see more pleasing body partsÖ
To increase the likelihood of appreciating your body, workout. Exercise releases stress hormones, raises endorphin levels for energy, keeps you in the moment and speeds up metabolism. If you strength train, you will feel as though you can accomplish anything. As you weight train and stretch beyond your usual range, you will discover movements that matter. You wonít be using momentum; movements will be slow and purposeful. Notice the spring in your step, improved posture as you move beyond personal doubts and fears.
Try this Qi-Gong walking meditation to help you conceive, believe, achieve. First take four purposeful steps gracefully pointing your toe, landing lightly on your heel. Second, take four steps envisioning a number rising from the ground and place your feet on number one, two, three and four. Third, instead of imaging numbers, see the words: I can, I will, I do, ! Affirmation to implementation. Erich Fromm said, ďManís main task in life is to give birth to himself.Ē
Break free into light and awakening; release all the nonproductive diets. The ultimate diet involves balance - not just in food but in life. Everyday balance the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Participate as a whole person, a mindbody (without the hyphen). Fill up on lovingkindness. Shed stress and anger. Everyday find original recipes for living, not eating. Nourish your life force, exercise your creativity and serve others instead of yourself. Live more fully!
Debbie Eisenstadt Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Brooklyn College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WLIR 92.7 FM in New York City and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com