That’s where I’m laying the blame for the 3′ I’ve gained since late February. I’ve been joking with people that all I need is another cookie, then I’ll be fine.
It just so happens that I made that joke on the air, to a psychologist who’s an expert in food as metaphor and unbalanced, or disordered eating. Dr. Anita Johnston explains, at the very end of the second episode (we recorded two of them, back-to-back) what the metaphorical meaning of those COVID cookie carbs could be.
It was fascinating to hear Anita share her views about how we try and hide our emotions by misusing food. Now, when I find myself wishing I had some sweet baked carbs in the house, I take a few minutes to get curious about myself.
I sit down for a sec, turn my attention inward, and get curious about how I’m feeling, and what I’m wanting and needing before I go get a cookie. Am I tired, and need to take a break? Do I need to get up and stretch, bring some more blood and oxygen to my brain? Is my nervous system revving too high? Do I need a bit of comforting or self-soothing?
Taking a minute to check in with myself is a beautiful little practice of mindfulness and self-compassion. Of getting out of my head and into my heart. It doesn’t mean I’m not gonna go have a cookie, or — much healthier — a little bit of good dark organic chocolate.
What it does mean is that I’m making the choice from a more conscious, intentional state of awareness. “Yep, long day. Could use a break. In a hammock, at the ocean, with a cooling breeze gently lifting my spirits.
“Right. I live in the high desert; not gonna happen. But I can take a mini-vacay as I do a 5-minute mindful breathing meditation on my app. Or indulge in a luxurious deep stretching routine. And then? Maybe I’ll have a cookie. One. And I’ll savor each morsel of that cookie. Really appreciate that cookie.”
In the first episode, Anita and I talk about how an imbalance in our relationship with food can mirror an imbalance in our psyches.
One of the many things I appreciated as I spoke with Anita, was that she doesn’t talk about recovery. Instead, she uses the word “transformation.” She teaches that it can be a game-changer to ask what the disordered eating is trying to say.
Are you being invited to move toward a transformation?
She’s also a storyteller, sharing a beautiful story from Kenya in the second episode. It’s lovely, but no spoilers. Anita also talks about how the answers reside in “your true self,” and what that means.
Finally, at the very end of the second episode, she talks about cracking the code of the metaphorical meanings of some food tastes. You can download that for free here.
Dr. Anita Johnston is an eating psychology pioneer, storyteller, co-founder of the Anorexia & Bulimia Center of Hawaii, developer of Hawaii’s first in-patient eating disorders treatment program at Kahi Mohala Hospital, supervisor for the International Association of Eating Professionals …
… and the author of Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship With Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling.