This article is an interesting one (well, I’d like to think they all are!). But this one is a little different to norm as it’s a client story, and today I am discussing food and pleasure.
Do I have your attention yet?!
I do hope so, because if you are really struggling to give up certain foods, and just can’t quite put your finger on why it is such a struggle, then this may just help to shed some light on things.
The observations that I’m going to share with you today all started with a client, who I’ll call Sheila, who coached with me a few years ago on both food and life issues. For several years Sheila had tried to go raw to varying degrees, but even though she genuinely felt compelled to eat more raw foods for a whole variety of reasons, she still couldn’t quite make the transition, or stay on a high percentage of raw foods for very long. So she called on me to see if I could help.
Right from the word go it seemed that there were so many reasons why it would benefit Sheila to embrace raw foods more fully. First, she needed to lose some weight; two, although in her 30’s she had some quite serious health issues which, in the past, had been greatly alleviated when she had upped the amount of raw foods in her diet (and which always got worse and more painful when she returned to her old ways), and three, she was fascinated by the subject of natural beauty and really wanted to uncover her own and explore her own potential with the help of raw and living foods.
As one of our major foci was improving Sheila’s diet as quickly and easily as possible, I asked her to keep a detailed daily food diary, paying particular attention to what she was thinking and feeling before, during and after eating any snack, drink or meal. So every week when we spoke on the telephone Sheila would report back on what she’d eaten that week, how she felt about it and anything that had come up for her on any level.
And yet… although Sheila was genuinely making an effort, and there were some signs of improvement, the amount of raw she was eating kept going up and down, and the improvement was nowhere near what it could or should have been; in fact we both agreed that it looked like she was going round in circles much of the time, and neither of us were entirely happy about that because there weren’t any really obvious reasons as to why this should be so!
Yes, we knew that there were various emotional and personal issues making it more challenging to go raw from a comfort-eating perspective, but it seemed to go beyond that, and I had a feeling that there was another, less obvious contributory factor to the situation that was subconsciously undermining her at every turn.
It wasn’t until I took a really close look at exactly what cooked foods she kept eating that it struck me. Once I saw it, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Sheila was in fact the first client I had ever worked with who I came to term as a “Sensual Eater”. On Sheila’s food list weren’t the usual packets of crisps (potato chips), bars of chocolate, Chinese take-aways, chunks of cheese, toast-dripping-with-butter kind of things (the more common raw-food fall-out foods!), but instead the finest goat’s cheese, specialty breads, creamy dips, specialist teas and all manner of other “highbrow” somewhat decadent goodies.
I spoke as it appeared to me: “Sheila, there seems to be something like a deli counter theme running through your eating. Does that mean anything to you?”
With something of a gasp, Sheila replied that as a child her grandmother had always treated her to foods from the delicatessen near where they lived, and that over the years she had grown to love the tastes, textures and mouth-feel of those foods as well as having the obvious and inevitable heart-warming associations with them.
As we spoke more, I felt that there was something just waiting to be pulled from this conversation that would really make it clear what the main issue really was. Sure, when she ate those foods she was reminded of her grandmother’s love, but there was something about the way Sheila spoke about the foods that made me think there was a whole “oral pleasure” thing going on that was noticeably more marked than I had ever come across in previous clients.
It seemed like for Sheila food was much more than food – it was a whole experience. During our deli counter conversation Sheila spoke of “creaminess” and “richness” and “yumminess” and “smoothness” and “steaming” (she liked her lattes!) and so on. And that’s when it hit me: “Sheila, do you think you might be satisfying yourself more sensually than nutritionally with your food choices?”
Instantly, we both knew that this was the crux of the matter. A single woman who had not been in a relationship for some time (and who craved to be), she missed the physical aspects of having a partner. She yearned for touch, and combined with the fact that she was not looking after herself or her living space particularly well, the long and the short of it was that she was seeking her experience of beauty and sensuality 100% from her food. Eureka!
Now in the know, it became clear that for Sheila to achieve her goals around raw food she would need to use that information wisely and creatively. It wasn’t about denying the fact that sensuality was one of her personal core needs, or trying to suppress that fact – that never works – but instead we agreed that, for the short term at least, it made sense to employ the two-pronged approach of setting the challenge to create as many raw recipes as she could that would please her sensually, while simultaneously aiming to bring more beauty and sensuality into her life through other non-edible means. Examples of the latter included beautifying her home and her body with lovely soft and silky fabrics and clothing, and also taking more care over her make-up and bathing using indulgent toiletries and skin care products – rather than seeking all of her sensual needs to be satisfied (albeit not that successfully) via her plate.
So it wasn’t about negating or ignoring the reality of the situation, but playing with it – just in a healthier, more rounded and more interesting and diverse way. And so it was that Sheila was able to move through the situation with clarity, seeing clearly a number of things.
What started off as simply being about “I can’t stay raw and don’t know why” ended up being about so much more (as it almost always is). Yes, there were emotional and personal issues still to deal with, but moreover it had become completely clear that Sheila had a core need that she was (unconsciously) choosing to meet through food alone. Needless to say, knowledge is power and with this information Sheila could move on and not just improve her eating habits and expand her culinary repertoire, but also explore ways to meet her needs in other ways that would also benefit the rest of her life – with or without a man in her world. And when he did arrive, well, what with the new more-ish foods, the soft welcoming home furnishings, the silky sensual clothing and the fragrant frothy bubble baths; well she’d probably have more sensuality than even she could handle!
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This is your opportunity to get an hour of 100% customised and confidential coaching from me, plus the recording if you’d like it, and to gain access to my famous “What Type of Raw Food Eater Are YOU?” workbook. Via the workbook you can discover your type (or types) and learn how to work with it. Click here to order your package.
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