As men and women with food and body image challenges, we may learn to deny several parts of ourselves, including the part that eats. I think this is what diets teach us to do. Therefore, in order to heal your relationship to food and your body, you may need to reclaim your eater.
The below “Eaters Agreement” was taken from a passage in Marc David’s book Nourishing Wisdom. As you read it, I invite you to take this on… to really let yourself embrace the eater in you. Even if you tend to push it away after you read the passage, at least experience it fully while reading. See what it feels like to do so. And, if you wish, print it out, hang it up, and take it on each day from this day forward.
THE EATERS AGREEMENT
I hereby agree, from this day forward, to fully participate in life on earth. I agree to inhabit the appropriate vehicle for such participation–a body. As a requisite for the sustaining of that body, and of the life that dwells therein, I agree to be an eater. This agreement fully binds me for the duration of my stay on earth.
As an eater, I agree to hunger. I agree to have a body that needs food. I agree to eat food. I recognize that as the biological need to eat is fulfilled with greater awareness and efficiency, the benefits of my well-being will increase. I further acknowledge that ignorance of the eating process may cause undesirable consequences.
Because the essence of my participation in life is one of learning and exploration, I agree to experience uncertainty as an eater. I recognize there are a great variety of foods to choose from, and I may not know which to eat. I may have a choice of different nutritional approaches, and not know which to follow. I have an assortment of habits, and not know how to manage them. I recognize that my relationship to food is a learning process and I will inevitably make mistakes. Therefore, as an eater, I agree to accept my humanness and learn as I go along.
I acknowledge that as the body changes from infancy to old age, so will the eating process change. I recognize that my body may call for different foods as the days, seasons, and years progress. My dietary needs will also shift in accord with changes in my life-style and environment. I understand that there is no one perfect diet.
As an eater, I accept pain. I recognize that I may suffer pain when the body is disturbed by my choice of food or eating habits. I may also experience pain when emotional and spiritual hungers are confused with physical hunger. I further understand that eating to cure a pain that cannot be remedied by eating may bring even more pain.
I further agree to accept a body that is imperfect and vulnerable, that naturally decays with the passage of time. I recognize there will be moments when I am incapable of caring for it myself. I agree, then that to live in a body is to need the help of others. I also agree to be vulnerable as an eater. I acknowledge that I will be helpless when I am old and unwell. I further recognize that even when I am fully capable, I may still need the warmth and care of someone who can feed me. Therefore, as an eater, I agree to be nourished by others.
If I have a woman’s body, I acknowledge that I have a special relationship to eating and nourishment. I recognize that as a giver of life, I am the nourished of life as well. Whether through my cooking or the milk of my body, I acknowledge that the union of food and love is a quality that marks my womanhood and has a profound effect on humankind.
As an eater, I acknowledge the domain of the sacred. I recognize that the act of eating may be ritualized and inspired. It may be given symbolic meanings that are religious or spiritual in nature. It may even be joyous.
I further agree that eating is an activity that joins me with all humanity. I recognize that to be an eater is to be accountable for the care of the earth and its resources. I acknowledge that despite our differences, we are all ultimately nourished by the same source. As such, I agree to share.
I recognize that at its deepest level eating is an affirmation of life. Each time I eat I agree somewhere inside to continue life on earth. I acknowledge that this choice to eat is a fundamental act of love and nourishment, a true celebration of my existence. As a human being on earth, I agree to be an eater. I choose life again and again and again…
From: Nourishing Wisdom, Marc David, Bell Tower, New York, 1991.