Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Melissa Grabau, PhD, author of the new Yoga of Food.
Certainty of conviction. Grim warnings of hell and damnation if we are to continue our misguided ways. The priest on high preaches the perils of . . . . gluten, meat, corn, soy, hydrogenated fats, sugar, alcohol, caffeine . . . . The perils of pleasure. The cost of consumption. We writhe in shame. Sinners in need of redemption! Spare us the damnation of diabetes, heart disease, dementia . . . We fall on our knees and give ourselves over to the gospel of Veganism, Paleoism, Raw foodism . . . Save us from the intractable cravings of our flesh! Then we watch in slack-jawed horror as the sinners parade themselves, half naked, before our shocked eyes. Evidence of their indulgence layered in waves of flesh cascading down their slack bodies. The scale registers their shame. We continue to watch as they suffer their repentance—hurling their monstrous bodies through gruesome machinations meant to undo evidence of their gluttony. We witness their torment with a mixture of horror and delight, vowing not to end up like them, we will do better, we promise. The scarlet letter A has been replaced by flashing numbers on a scale, announcing to all the degradation of the sinner.
I find it quite ironic that at this point in history when we are blessed/cursed with a plethora of food, it is damaging our health and preoccupying many of us in ways that are distracting and troublesome at best and can be life threatening at worst. Leave it to us humans to make a mess of things and to turn something pleasurable and life-sustaining into something rife with conflict, danger, guilt, and fear. Does this remind anyone else of sex? Mark Twain said, “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” So as the Paleos and the Vegans duke it out, we may find ourselves wondering: “Was Jesus God or human? Is gluten the downfall of humanity, akin to the shiny apple Eve brought to Adam? Or is succumbing to the pleasures of a juicy steak the gateway to Hell?” In our confusion, we look outside ourselves to someone who knows better, seeking an antidote to our own foolery and depravity. Instead of a religious text, we now look to this or that nutritional study in search of a guideline for how to live right without suffering at the hand of our own indulgences—only to find that for every nutritional “fact” out there, one can find another “fact” to contradict it. It appears there is a big cosmic joke, with the punch line being that our so-called knowledge has cancelled itself out, leaving us none the wiser.
Good sex requires good communication and good nutrition requires the same. There is a language of the body, and it is a language of love. It starts from a place of trust and acceptance rather than fear and correction. The yoga of food is a movement toward union of mind with body, health with eating. It is a path of healing that starts from the premise that your body is good and that you can trust your own wisdom as you tune into the language of your body. I suggest that you start this process away from the dinner table, as food often triggers the deafening noise of the shoulds and shouldn’ts, fear and repentance. Instead, start with stillness, breath and gentle movement. As you engage with this flow, you begin to hear the music of your own Being and so fall in love with yourself. Eating then becomes an act of love based upon communication with your needs and an affirmation of your human right to pleasure and vitality.
Our thanks to Melissa for her guest post! For more from Melissa Grabau, read her article “How Yoga Practice Can Transform Your Relationship To Food.”