Food’s Pleasures

Karina Schreurs
Karina Schreurs, Jun 25 2018, 4 minute readKarina has a cross cultural background working with families through her roles in health and education. Training in Occupational Therapy and post-graduate study in the Neuro-Sequential Model of Therapeutics, Cognition and Sensory Processing, position her to present neurological understanding in an easy, relevant and practical way.

So I realised a few months back that my journey of health and weight-loss has been so different than most people. I was sitting in a cafe with some beloved friends and I was thoroughly enjoying looking at all the different sweet options the cafe had to offer. I was at rest and peace, enjoying the company of people I loved. I was safe and warm, and the food looked mouth watering. I stopped and imagined how each of these would taste and experienced the joy of the food without actually eating it.

This went on for a few minutes when my friend politely asked me to stop talking about it because this would make them eat it. I suddenly realised that was me just two months before. I realised that for most of my life I tried to deny myself of bad simply by now allowing myself to imagine eating it – I believed that even just thinking about eating it would push me to do it, but that simply isn’t true.  If we think about it, we don’t have to have it unless we choose it. Believing that I will have to have the food if I think about it is the same as choosing to have it.

I came to learn the joy I receive from looking at all the pretty mouth watering options that people create. I admire their work and at that point, I stop and ask my stomach a question: is this something you would really like? And 99% of the time my stomach says no and at that point I don’t want to eat it.  For so long I believed something different.  This difference led my life in so many ways.

I believed that if I gave something space I would have no control and it would overtake me. That, somehow, desire would render me powerless. I believed this in many different areas of my life, including people’s differing views and beliefs, and this kept me at arms length from others. I have come to see now that I can totally stay who I am and enjoy the moment (be that food or other people’s differences), and stay in control of me. I have learnt I can savour food, admire it and fully stay connected with my stomach about what it truly needs. This has been the biggest breakthrough for me. In the past I would look, then think, then wrestle about how bad it is and how I shouldn’t have it. Eventually the craving would overtake me, either in the moment or the coming days when I was stressed. The turmoil of it looks good but I know it’s bad.  Can you relate?

The other challenge for me is that food has been a comfort. I would eat from a place of stress, not hunger. Not surprisingly, this food would be high in fat, sugar and salt (because these things calm the brain). I would feel overwhelmed and hope that stuffing something into my mouth would fix the feeling. Sometimes it did, but only until my stomach would have to work so hard to process that food – lethargy would take over and the cycle would continue.

So now, instead of reaching for the comfort food, I choose to reach out for help in the way that we were designed – relationally. I’ll reach out to those closest to me, to God, to those I trust and, in many ways, to myself.

I don’t want to live as the person known for being strong but one who was connected, who felt and who was willing to be brave and trust.

It’s been a beautiful journey. It’s been scary to no longer turn to food as my comfort but instead turn to truth with myself, God and others. And I’m finding freedom in this journey that I could never have imagined.

I believe we are all made for this journey. If I can help you in any way on your journey then let me know – please reach out to me! Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself and others, and know there will be another chance. And allow yourself the trust to process sensation – What does it really taste like and does my stomach really want it?

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