Food and I have had difficulty getting along most of my life. Well, actually it’s more the food I like or don’t like not getting along with what people in my life think I should and shouldn’t like.
One of my earliest memories was getting in trouble my first day of kindergarten because I ate the one thing I liked and then refused to eat the rest of the lunch provided by the school (I brought my own lunch after that until I graduated high school). I remember being shamed and ridiculed by the teacher overseeing the cafeteria in front of all my peers.
I was told frequently by teachers and friends’ parents that I “shouldn’t be such a picky eater” and I “needed to learn to eat like a normal person” or that “if I was your mother I’d make you eat normal” or that I was being a spoiled brat and there were starving kids in X country who would love to eat what I was refusing.
There was a lot of “concerned statements” about my poor health and how I wouldn’t develop properly because I was so picky.
Those voices still live in my head – a lot more than I’d like. I still struggle with a lot of self-judgment and self-criticism around food, eating, and my weight. I’m doing some intense work with my coach to finally make peace with food and eating. I want to enjoy social gatherings and cook-outs and potlucks with friends. I want to enjoy what I’m eating – whatever it is – while I’m eating it and not feel hot with shame or guilt after I’m done.
I’m still working at it. And something my coach said to me in our session on Tuesday made me stop and think about my history with food in an entirely differently way. I don’t remember her exact statement, but it was something about picky eating, authenticity, and doing my work in the world.
What her statement made me realize is that food has been the one place in my life in which I have always stayed true to myself. When my body told me that something wasn’t right for it, I listened. Not only did I listen, I have stood against pressure, ridicule, judgment, judgment guised as “concern,” insensitive jokes and more from parents, teachers, friends’ parents, and friends to stay true to myself about it – from as young as age 3-4 (that I can recall).
It seems like such a silly thing sometimes, food, to have had such a huge impact on my life. It might just turn out to be my biggest teacher, in the end.
Despite this realization, I haven’t yet quite silenced all those critical voices in my head around food. I am, however, realizing that whatever the current challenge in my life may be, I am capable of holding fast and true to my authentic self.
Regardless of what other people think of what I do, or of me, my job is to listen to me and to follow my own inner guidance. I am happiest when I listen to myself. I live my best life when I stay true to my authentic self, even when it goes against the norm.
How about you? Where have you or can you stay true to you regardless of outside voices or social norms?