Do you use food to soothe yourself? If you have a bad day, does sugar make you feel better? When you’re feeling low on energy, do you use sugar to boost yourself back up again?
As a person who suffered miserably from eating disorders and chronically low self-esteem I used sugar, junk foods, and carbs to hide my feelings. The truth is I didn’t even know how I felt. I hated myself so much that I ate to numb myself. Unless you’ve been there too, you probably can’t fathom the level of self-imposed suffering that was my daily existence. I used candy, ice cream, chips — whatever I could get my hands on — to eat until I couldn’t feel anymore. It’s taken me years of self-love, practice, and compassion to understand why I once habitually made choices that kept me in a self-imposed prison.
I was told as a child that I was to be seen and not heard. My elders told me this because they thought it would ultimately protect me from harm as a woman of color. An outspoken brown baby in the Deep South during Jim Crow would have suffered from backlash (a literal lash of a whip during my family’s history of slavery and sharecropping) or some other real physical harm. There was even one auntie in my family who had a multi-colored face because she had been burned with lye as a result of speaking “out of turn.” So this concern for my safety was not rooted in paranoia, but rather painful experience. Still, as a child, I couldn’t understand why someone would tell me to “shut my mouth.” Over time, shutting my mouth led to stuffing my mouth — stuffing down my feelings, habitually turning to food (especially sugar) to numb my pain. Food was my drug of choice and food is a really hard addiction to break, because you can’t give it up — we all have to eat.
I finally learned through self-examination and facing my misguided self-perceptions that it’s safe for me to open my mouth. I trust the choices I make now. Choosing unconditional love and forgiveness for those who have hurt me set me free from the habits which once made me as a prisoner in my own body. I no longer choose addictive patterns and habits unconsciously. I actively use the tools in my toolkit of self-inquiry, mindfulness, and self-love.
Maybe you’ve been there too. Maybe you’re ready to unpack why you do what you do, if sugar is your go-to comfort. Perhaps you’re tired of suffering and long overdue for a health orgasm. What is a health orgasm a.k.a. full body bliss? It’s delicious. It’s delectable. It’s divine. It’s choosing full body bliss from the inside out. There are many ways into a health orgasm—so many ways to allow ourselves to taste, touch, smell, hear, see, and truly feel this beautiful life we embody in our sacred feminine forms! As women we’re often taught that to truly experience pleasure in our bodies is taboo. As mothers, wives, daughters, and lovers, we are caretakers and chronic nurturers. To focus on our own self-care, let alone pleasure and contentment, is all too often the last thought. In this fast pace of our modern day existence, constantly tethered to audio reminders of technological tweets, posts, and alarms, our emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual body screams from a lack of over-processed food-like substances. We all know that we cannot pour from an empty cup.
This is where self-care becomes a radical act of self-love. To pay attention to the multi-dimensional journey of womanhood is a narrative that requires committing ourselves to simple daily acts of self-compassion and kindness. If you want to put a spring in your step, a sparkle in your eyes, and have boundless energy to enjoy your busy life, a great place to start is with regular cleansing and detox. Your body is continually ingesting and trying to eliminate toxins from your food, air, and water. Why not help your body out? It’s asking for a break. Or if this seems too radical, consciously take a breath and choose something calm as an act of neurological freedom to rewire your nervous system.
What do you choose? Do you choose daily to live in a perpetual state of anxiety or do you choose to practice radical self-love? You can choose a new response versus practicing frantic, overwhelming, and anxiety-driven habits. If you want to choose a different path to self-compassion, one simple long calming breath can serve as a beacon to your lighthouse on the journey to your soul.
-Afi studied at Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she was immerssed in a variety of dietary theories and practical lifestyle coaching methods and is a certified yoga instructor.