Chapter X: In which Passepartout Engaged in Overeating

snake and ladderWhen Passepartout, the faithful servant accompanying Mr.Fogg in his trip Around the world in 80 days, found himself alone and penniless aboard the ship to Japan, “He fell to at meals with appetite, and ate for Mr. Fogg, Aouda, and himself. He helped himself generously as if Japan were a desert, where nothing to eat was to be looked for” Jules Verne

Many of us can empathize with Passepartout, luckily for him though, in the 19th Century this was most likely a one-off situation, he was not presented daily with the “rare” doughnut office party, or the unusually perfect “whole wheat organic cheese traditionally grilled half meter long Pizza”, or the one and only Italian “Burrata” and the season to eat Maple everything.

This mental state focused on “rarity”, whether for us this means the rare moment we allow ourselves a burger or the rare opportunity at the one and only delicacy, this “scarcity mind frame” creates artificial anxiety over future unavailability, invariably causing us to eat more than we really want.

The real damage

According to the original work of Dr. Hawkins, who determined the “energetic calibration” of common human emotions, “fear” has a strong negative energy direction that pulls us down towards a state of very low energy (think of when you stopped at the snake head while playing the snake and ladder and ended up way below). In this low energy state of self-loathe and weakness, we are easily tempted to reach out for some sweet energy fix, telling ourselves we lack enough “will power” anyway and losing our confidence in the process.

Bring in the Adult

You may have heard the term, “bring in the adult” which is another way of talking about increased awareness around the times we choose to change a certain behavior. The adult is sometimes confused with the “reprimanding parent” which we call in out of habit, in our especially sensitive low energy state of guilt and shame, to tell us we deserve to feel this way. This is exactly what we don’t need right now, what we need is the powerful, joyful, spiritual if you may, part of ourselves, we need to get ENERGIZED ASAP.

How to get back to the positive current

• The first step I urge my clients to make, is to actively notice their emotions around food. You can use a simple mobile notes application for that if you wish (I use moments diary). According to David Rock in his book “Your Brain at work”, this is called symbolic labeling and what this does is it dampens the primitive (fearful brain) and activates the area in the frontal brain which is central to all types of inhibition. In short, by briefly “labeling” what you are feeling, you get an instant, effortless, willpower boost. Don’t go on and on about it though, the idea is to tell our brain what it feels in order to calm it down and not to affirm a negative state with a lengthy description of it.

• If you find it hard to identify your feelings, my friend and fellow Counselor Abeer Fakhreddin, reminds her clients to notice how they feel physically. Is it a tightness in the chest, a void in the stomach or a general irritation in your body. When you are not used to tuning into your feelings, take a moment to give your body some attention. This isn’t the typical 20min meditation here (which I highly recommend at other times but not in the presence of the dessert menu), it is taking a moment to simply notice and give the needed attention to your internal state, from there you can go on to identify the emotion behind it.

• Next, in order to energize yourself, and your food for that matter, and no matter what spiritual direction you have chosen, the practice of expressing Gratitude and Blessing for the food we eat (or that we have already eaten), and intending for it to fill us with health, will heighten the Spiritual satisfaction we are really craving in the state of anxiety and self-defeat. I experienced this first hand, when I received an extra piece of cookie from the smiley Chinese waiter with my coffee, I haven’t requested one in the first place because in my quest for health, I was avoiding everything wheat, however, I accepted the act of love with gracious gratitude, I needed no second helping, and it is still the most fulfilling cookie I remember having.

Practicing the above after the fact (whether its binging, or over-eating, or even throwing up) will start us back towards the positive current, however with time, practicing them will stop us from falling back into the trap of fear, boredom and guilt around food, which is what makes us eat unconsciously in the first place. We may from there start to realize the real Joy which food was really intended to bring us.

 

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