I’ve been working today on preparing a new workshop that I’m really excited about. It’s working title is “Why Diet’s Don’t Work”. The thematic thread that runs through my work is “Connection”. That word is easily interchanged with the word “health” to me as I find them to be quite synonymous.
I have a little preview of the five connections that diets (and other unfortunate societal impositions) shatter.
1. Personal: When we diet, we learn, through the often painful practices of starvation and denial, to ignore our selves. The flowing dialogue between our organs, our cells, our thought processes, our muscles gets dammed up. The true democracy of the body, where every voice is heard and of equal importance is dismantled. It is replaced with an externalized dictatorial voice that barks out all of the “shoulds” and “should nots” with no capacity for listening.
2. Traditional: When we diet, we cut ourselves off from the universal human tradition of deep nourishment. We generally forgo the instinctive desire for satiety that humans have been fulfilling since we have been human (and even before) and instead eat food products that claim to “boost metabolism” and “melt fat”. How foreign to the tradition of nourishment these reasons to eat are!
3. Cultural: The cultural aspects of eating that center around feasts, festivals, or great-grandma’s squirrel stew are the specifics of the universal traditions. The difference in spices, the particular vegetable that gets fermented, the culturally designated favorite part of the animal (Where I grew up, the large knobby gelatinous glob of pork fat swimming in the tomato gravy was the ultimate prize!), these are the things that create an identity. When we give these things up to munch on lettuce or to stir two scoops of meal replacement shake into some water, we isolate ourselves from our greater familial group.
4. Inter-personal: Closely related to our cultural aspects of eating are the interpersonal relationships that we shatter when we diet. Allergies aside, it is difficult to maintain connection with others when we won’t share meals. Our fear of counting calories or fat grams overrides the joy we can co-create with another person by letting them cook for us or vice versa. This is the quickest way to sever our connection to people from other cultures. All cultures have certain things in common. A love of meat or other animal products, treasuring fat, fermenting something or other and sharing a meal as a way to build relationship.
5. Natural: The deep division from nature and her rhythms that dieting creates are often the most damaging and least noticed. Most diets are proscriptive and ignore seasonal availability, the particular needs of our organism and the ecosystem as a whole. The beauty of eating in way that takes all of these into consideration is elegant and delicious. And, of course, it creates health.
The path to health is all about weaving threads of connection.