I recently returned from a family trip to Amsterdam and Vienna, that in addition to wonderful art museums, composer's apartments, and explorations of both cities' dynamic history, included daily 3 to 4 hour-long family feasts with multiple courses and wine, followed by the sweet specialties of the region, usually both before and after meal time (apple strudel, ice cream, hazelnut torte-you name it!).
A few days back in my NYC office, a client brought up her belief that she will always be "in recovery" from her eating disorder; always struggling to manage her eating, her desire to lose weight, and always working to prevent a relapse.
Ten years ago, as I struggled with my own disordered eating, negative body image, and overexercise patterns, I would have believed the same. I didn't have anyone at the time giving me the message that I could actually live my life completely free of any possibility of relapse or have an identity outside of food and body where food was a nourishing yet neutral part of my life.
In fact, at that time this type of family trip would have been a huge nightmare - overshadowed by anxiety about how much food I would "have" to eat in order not to upset my family, trying to figure out any possible way to avoid a meal, or skip family activities to seek out exercise (how boring is going to a hotel gym instead of exploring a new city!?).
Looking back on my journey to being fully recovered, I still have moments full of gratitude and awe. I am amazed at how easy and sweet meal time with my family is now, and how I can look forward to and enjoy ALL types of food without allowing food to become the center of attention. I am grateful to share precious time with loved ones with full presence, and breathe through conflict without turning to food (or lack thereof).
And perhaps most importantly, I now know how to honor my own body's needs, despite my Russian-Jewish grandma's lifelong mission for me to always eat more :)
When food comments are made at that table, I can lean on my spiritual practice to help remind me to feel compassion towards that person who is likely struggling with him or herself. Over time and through trail and error, I have learned how to say both yes and no to food by connecting to the wisdom of my body.
As I shared this with my client and hope to share with you, full recovery is absolutely possible for anyone committed to the path of healing.
And to stay on our path, yoga reminds us to seek the company of souls who help to elevate our consciousness and remind us to come back home to our heart.