Many writers who address eating/weight concerns speak of “making peace with food.” I’ve always liked the premise, but I wasn’t quite sure what it would look like in practice, until I began to think about the distinction between the conscious versus unconscious mind. Many psychological theories propose that an important goal of therapy is to make what’s unconscious conscious—in other words, to bring feelings, experiences, memories of which you may be unaware into conscious awareness. I think that this goal holds with regard to eating concerns, particularly as we try to uncover reasons for disordered eating, such as emotional eating, restricting, and focusing obsessively on weight and shape—are we bored/lonely/angry/scared? What are we trying to avoid?
However, with regard to the process (and allowance) of eating itself, I wonder if the goal should be the exact opposite—to make the conscious unconscious—to return food/eating to the role of any other physiological process (sleep, breathing, urinating) and to NOT think about the whole experience so much. Imagine what it would feel like to NOT be thinking:
Have I had too much?
What else have I eaten today?
This has too many calories.
My stomach feels huge.
It seems to me that if you can arrive at a place where these thoughts and questions no longer occur to you, that is making peace with food. But, can we really accept eating as simply another physiological process? Imagine giving other biologically-driven processes the same airtime that we give food:
I really shouldn’t pee again—I went so much yesterday.
I know I’m tired, but I’m definitely not going to allow myself to sleep tonight.
Did I just take in too much oxygen? There was so much air in that last breath—my abdomen feels way too big!
Of course, these statements sound ridiculous, but substitute food/eating and you have an all-too-familiar way of thinking. As best we can, we sleep when we’re tired, go to the bathroom when we have to, breathe unconditionally—if only we could do the same with food.