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"Contemplations on Eating a Meal" Chapter 8 Excerpt

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“Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best,’ and then he had to stop and think, Because Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”

--A.  A. Milne, The House on Pooh Corner

…When Barbara negates her identity, her health, her very life and uses eating and purging to support that negation, she is also removing her appreciation of the life force of the food.  Both she and the food become objects to use for emotional manipulations and control.  She was not present enough to explore her defects or symptoms and consider the contemplations. At home, feeling safe again, she returned to her breathing exercises and journaling.  Backtracking [a specific Healing Your Hungry Heart exercise] from her episode at her parent’s anniversary party, she discovered that she dreaded being with some of the family friends who were at the party and were very much a part of her childhood.  She is gaining some understanding and compassion for herself and her fears.

Not eating also disregards the gifts of life.  Claudia, twenty-seven but looking ancient and decrepit in her skeletal condition, refuses to eat.  Despite her hunger pains, she enjoys feeling powerful when she looks at food but doesn’t allow it in her body.  She says she is reaching new spiritual highs by becoming as light as air.  Yet she wastes food as her body wastes away.  She uses self-sacrificial means to control others to make up for her lack of control in her life. She doesn’t understand that she controls people by causing them worry and grief.  She believes she is receiving adulation and deserving attention as others spend their time, money, and energy in their attempts to keep her alive.  Claudia, like Barbara is lost in her eating disorder without knowing why. She is compelled to not eat just as Barbara was compelled to have her violent purge.  Both are not able, yet, to benefit from wisdom that can emerge from addressing the contemplations.  But, if she does the breathing, journaling and backtracking exercises consistently in a mindful way, eventually she will find her way to recovery.

These ancient contemplations are designed to increase you awareness and self-compassion.  They help you dissolve your feelings of guilt and shame.  When you binge or purge or starve or compulsively overeat, you can feel soul-eroding guilt and shame because you can’t change your behavior.

Excerpt from Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder, by Joanna Poppink, MFT, Conari Press, 2011. Copyright protected August, 2011.

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