One of the interesting aspects of my fasting journey, which hits the 2-year mark this month, is discovering how many things I truly don’t like that I thought I did. Many of these relate to eating. Some of the chemical-laden food I used to eat almost makes me gag a little. I’m not a food “shamer” or member of the food police; I think people should eat what they enjoy, including what’s broadly known as junk food. However, if a pastry has been in a vending machine for a month without changing an iota, it’s not for me anymore. A large percentage of what I used to eat – the fried foods, the artificially-flavored stuff, the pure sugar – has lost its appeal. But I’m not just talking about food.
Fasting has been a transformational experience by causing me to stop, step back, and completely evaluate everything about how I live. This way of living creates daily opportunity to pause and reflect before making decisions, and in the power of that pause, the ultimate choice can be surprising. I found that the job I was doing no longer aligned with my best skills and interests. I had relationships that felt inauthentic once I started to “show up” as my true self. Many layers were peeled away and I was left with just my truth.
People pleasing is a habit I used to engage in daily that no longer appeals as much, but as with other aspects of the journey, I understand it better. I get why I wanted to please people. There’s nothing wrong with wanting others to be happy, and in fact, when you are secure in yourself, you can often acquiesce to the wants and needs of others without losing any of yourself. Unfortunately, taken to the extreme, a desire to please others will leave you TRULY unable to answer the questions about what you like, want or need yourself. You have lived a certain way so long that you’ve lost all touch with those answers. A few years ago, if someone had really asked me what I liked or wanted, I had no clue how to reply.
Sometimes in my travels talking about fasting, I talk to people who insist they love their diet, love the feeling of control, the “game” of calculating calories or macros, even the social rituals of attending weigh ins. Who am I to say that’s wrong? If someone truly loves it, that is their path. It’s no different than someone saying they love fishing. Just because it doesn’t resonate for me doesn’t make it invalid.
But to any person spending a sizable portion of mental and emotional energy on their diet each day, I only ask….. but do you really? Do you really love living this way, or is it cultural conditioning that says we “should” be on a diet and tightly holding the reins on every morsel that passes our lips? Is it a deep distrust, even fear, of your own body and what it might do without the grip of the diet’s rules?
And to the person mired in uncontrolled or oppressive overeating, who says they don’t want to make a change, they “love” all that heavy or processed food, I respect the choice but still I ask… but do you really? Does the constant food obsession, acquisition and consumption really serve you, or is it just habitual? Is it possible we live in a culture that has given us covert permission to eat constantly by making and marketing edible substances at every turn of our daily lives?
If you really love how you eat – at either end of the spectrum – there’s no need to change a thing. But just like people pleasing, sometime we need to get a little space to answer the questions accurately. We need a pause, an interruption. Fasting creates this space every day.
When I tell people I love my daily fast, they might come back at me with, but do you really? And gratefully, my answer from the bottom of my heart and soul is… yes.
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