Last year, right around this time, my friend Tina suggested we spend the year focusing on learning about a topic to which we were unfamiliar or just wanted to explore more. We each chose our topic and decided that the full year would be dedicated to learning about this topic any way we chose. My topic was to familiarize myself with finances. Other than how to spend money, my family didn’t teach me much about money. I knew I needed to learn more.
During the year, this topic continued to be a large part of my growth and learning. I didn’t even try. Just setting the intention to learn brought about all sorts of opportunities. In speaking with Tina about it just a few weeks ago, I realized all that I had accomplished on this topic and all the changes in my belief patterns that had taken place because of it. Tina often has great ideas of things to do and this was no exception.
As another New Year approaches, you may want to work on changing your relationship with food. Perhaps, like me, you will find that setting this intention at the beginning of the year (or right now, at the very end of this year) may bring you the perfect opportunities to learn and grow.
After all, more days, months and years of continuing in your restrictive, dieting, bingeing and purging thoughts and behaviors hasn’t helped so far. Perhaps the New Year can bring a time of change and healing, rather than more of the same.
To support you, I have reprinted below “The Eater’s Agreement” taken from a passage in Marc David’s book Nourishing Wisdom. As you read it, take it on as though you are choosing it for yourself. Allow yourself to own it as you. Notice and acknowledge any fears (possibly disguised as resistance) that surface.
If you wish, set an intention to take this on further throughout the next year. Give the Universe permission to help you do this by bringing you further opportunities to learn and grow and heal your relationship with food once and for all.
The Eater’s 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…
Nourishing Wisdom, Marc David, Bell Tower, New York, 1991.