I once heard someone say “How you do money is how you do life”. I’d say the same about food.
The great thing about teasing out the connections between your eating and your life is that every decent book, film, play or piece of art can become a way to do life better. And in doing so, release food from (trying and failing at) doing that job for you.
Let’s take Ashby, a real gem of a film I happened upon this weekend. One early spoiler included and then I promise I will leave the rest for you to find out yourself.
The movie takes a tired and worn out cliché (teen loner thrown together with troubled and equally lonely senior with a secret) and gives us something fresh and original. Booksmart Ed (Nat Wolff) moves to a new high school where he is bullied by members of the football team he is desperate to join. He has to write a report on the life of an older person. Enter his grumpy and irascible neighbour Ashby (Mickey Rourke) who only agrees to take part if Ed will drive him anywhere, anytime. This is fine by Ed, for whom Ashby is his only friend.
Early on in the story, Ed stumbles across evidence that Ashby is a retired CIA agent. After making a terrified Ed promise to keep stum, Ashby allows the teenager to question him about his job.
“How many people have you killed?” whispers Ed, eyes wide with excitement.
“93” mutters Ashby.
Nothing too out there – or so it seems. Teenager gets excited over the glamour, while letting the horrible gravity of this fact and Ashby’s deep shame wash over him.
Now here is where it gets interesting. At this point in the story, Ed – against all odds – gets picked for the football team. The next day one of his team mates hits him around the face with a baseball bat to warn him off attending practice.
Ed caves in immediately, but Ashby has other ideas.
The point here is that by focusing on Ashby’s life and hiding from his bullies, the teenager is making the same mistake I see most people making day in, day out.
Thinking life instead of living it. He has read everything Hemingway has written. He is content to be an audience member of someone else’s life story (Ashby”s), when his own one is waiting to be written.
I see this most often in people’s social media addiction, especially the penchant for sharing inspirational quotes. You know the ones I mean, those big infographics urging us to be this, be that, take risks. Native American wisdom and JK Rowling’s 20 rejections. Quotes, quotes…and yet more quotes.
In and of itself, this digital chatter is a harmless enough. The problem is that for most people, the fine talk replaces action. What does it matter that you think taking risks is a brave thing to do, if you never go out and actually take any? You are not living, but life-proofing yourself. Then when a curveball comes and slams itself into the middle of your life, unannounced and unasked for, you have no skills to deal with your redundancy or broken heart or wounded ego or whatever it is, because you have not been building your resilience.
And binge eating, or sugar, or dieting or body hatred are all powerful but temporary and doomed distractions from building your resilience.
Next time you see another inspirational inforgraphic pop up in Facebook or wherever, I challenge you to go and DO ONE THING right now to put that worthy idea into practice. Make that scary call. Join that meetup group even though you know nobody there. Open a separate account to save for that thing you want.
Action – imperfect action.
Action that has the risk of failure built in.
Action – even if it is the wrong one.
Stop spectating life, and start living it.
To find out more about how I can help you see a 95% reduction in your binge or compulsive eating without feeling deprived or bad about yourself, start by taking this eating assessment