Beyond Chocolate – Easter newsletter

March 31, 2008 at 1:35 am Leave a comment

Just thought I would copy and paste some of the newsletter we got today in our email Inbox.. I thought it was thought provoking.  If you are interested, read along!

Why diets starve your soul

Remind me what this principle is about

Soul food

Hot cross buns, still warm from the oven, oozing butter… Chocolate eggs, cracked open to retrieve the treat within, then savoured slowly, piece by melting piece… A slice of simnel cake, delicately spiced, and topped with marzipan… Will you be indulging in these timeless traditions this Easter?

Every religion has feast days and food rituals – the Jewish Seder, the Buddhist ideal of ‘mindful eating’, the grace that followers of many faiths say before meals – because food has always been sacred, worshipped by mankind for millennia for sustaining life.

Why, then, do so many of us now pray at a very different altar – the altar of deprivation? In recent times, far from the act of eating being perceived as enriching, it is viewed warily, as something to control, its significance sidelined. This historical shift in our attitude is something that interests Michelle Stacey, journalist and author of Consumed: Why Americans Love, Hate and Fear Food and The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery. In an article entitled Starving Your Soul, she questions why limiting what we eat has become revered: “Food is not just sustenance but comfort, companionship and communication. It is both a connection with our most elemental, animal selves and with the physical world outside of us that supplies our needs. In that connection, and in the plain physiological reality of eating, there is a joy that can be transcendent, if we let it be. The truth and logic of this fact have become so lost recently that, oddly, we’ve turned the idea around: we’re more likely to think that in being stingy with how we feed ourselves lies our salvation.”

Ellyn Satter, a US dietician who specialises in treating eating disorders, agrees: “Dietary restraint – holding back on either the amount or the types of food we eat for external reasons – has become so pervasive that people see restricting their food intake as normal. And it’s applauded by the dietary powers that be. It’s become completely accepted that eating for emotional reasons is bad, that one should simply put fuel in one’s body as if it were a car.”

Instead, says Stacey, we should make sure our diet is peppered with “soul foods” -“the cheesecake you used to share with your high-school best friend, the spaghetti carbonara from Maria’s Kitchen that you fell in love over, the rice pudding your mother made when you were sick. These foods soothe us, take us back in time, and unite our bodies with our hearts and our minds.”

She concludes: “An Italian friend once described the family meals she grew up with, at which cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents talked, argued, laughed, stirred pasta and risotto, drank wine, then let enough hours elapse to return once again to the kitchen for midnight pasta; the food was inseparable from the emotion. These are the foods we cannot live without – and fats, protein, and carbohydrates have nothing to do with it.”


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Eating disorders The Fantasy of Being Thin

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