In last week's blog, "Tribal Connections: Soulful Medicine", I wrote about the wonders of belonging to 1 tribe or more. How with the right folks who support and love us, life becomes grander and a bit less difficult. I shared about being away on vacation with one of my very important tribal connections, i.e., my extended family including 10 or so women cousins. I love them and am grateful for having them in my life. And, there are 2 things in particular we seem to do a lot of whenever we meet up. One is to play cards. The other is to eat a lot of junk food. I mean, a lot!
Now, to clarify, while away at the family resort where we all vacationed, it’s not for lack of food at meal times that we need to indulge in junk thereafter. We’re all served family style meals for breakfast, lunch, and evening dinner. Dessert is also included every afternoon and evening. I ate my fair share at all the meals and, being gluten-free, I stuck to melon or some other kind of fruit to partake in for my post-meal sweetness.
Here comes the kicker. After dinner, all the resort's guests hang out in the “rec hall” for classic 1950's Catskill Mountain region style entertainment – the band, DJ, movie, bingo, horse racing, wiener roast, karaoke, and more. For my cousins and me, more often than not irrespective of the evening entertainment offered, we’d grab our usual long table, sit around it, and shuffle the cards. We never play high stakes by the way. That’s not the point. What seems to be far more important is to engage in an activity together we all know, enjoy, that allows us to chit chat, and provides us a way to mindlessly stuff ourselves. Literally.
I did pretty well for the first half of the week. I managed to eat whatever snacks were available reasonably, and modestly. I ate according to my calm desire and it didn’t take much for the desire to become satiated. But then the days passed, and the evenings with their tie-in snack offerings became more difficult to navigate. Most of the treats we ate were heavily salted: popcorn, nuts, and all types of potato chips – Lay’s, Utz’s, Cape Cod, crispy, thick, light, brown, etc. I started munching on the chips each eve and before very long I realized I’d stopped eating for pleasure.
Instead, I became more of a junk food robot reaching for chips before even finishing what was in my mouth. As you may very well know, most processed junk food is made with a precise formula of sugar, salt, and fat, (thank you food industry for caring tremendously more about your profits than our health.) Just look at any ingredient list and you’ll see the trio of addictive substances, (which get us to eat more and faster). So, going from pleasure eating to out of control binging is no surprise actually for anyone when the junk food gorging continues day after day. The addiction area in my brain was lighting up like Times Square!
The reason I’ve decided to write this though is to let you know the after effects. Vacation ended and I returned home to my usual routine. Yes, I put on a bit of weight. I could tell. But, I honestly didn’t lose a wink of sleep over it. I didn’t go out and buy chips and continue the binge because I felt so upset. I was very okay with my great lack of perfectionism. Instead, I was very grateful for having had a lovely family-reunion vacation. I knew that whatever weight I had put on was destined to come off back at home. I don’t buy potato chips here. It’s just not my thing.
What I was very pleased about, and what I wanted to highlight more than anything else, is the serenity and acceptance I felt with what had occurred. I was not angry at myself. I had no need to punish myself. I didn’t run for another bag of chips or whatever because “now everything is ruined anyway, so what difference does it make?” Nope. I really just acknowledged the situation for what it was. I was away, vacationing, eating lots of snacks with cousins over laughs, fun, and love.
Now, I'm cleaning up, detoxing and in recovery while filled with acceptance, calm and love. I’m actually feeling great at this point, and I wish the very same for all of you! We all have our moments when we eat more than necessary and/or things we feel we shouldn't. In the grand scheme of life though, does this really matter? Is this the worst possible situation in which to find ourselves? I say let go of the harsh self-judgement, relax, deep breathe, be kind, and recover with a hug. It's really high time we let go of waging war against ourselves over food. We don't need to be perfect. We just need to be ourselves offering respect, love, and trust.