A few months ago, the area between my belly button and belt buckle began to make its presence known to me. For most of my 47 years, this small region lived an undistinguished existence, which, as far as I was concerned, was its job. Now, however, whenever I sat down – like, say, to write or (of course) to eat – my middle felt like I had swallowed a sausage-shaped water balloon.
I did not like this experience. I felt thick and slow. When I finally resolved to do something about it, I thought immediately of Geneen Roth, whom I had interviewed when she was touring to promote the paperback edition of Women, Food, and God. In her book Roth described her decision many years ago to forgo dieting and replace it with awareness.
And so I decided to stop eating once I was full. It sounds simple, I know, but as with all simple solutions it is not something you can choose to do only once. I had to decide to stop eating every time I was full. Or not. The beauty of this particular discipline – like all spiritual disciplines, which is really what it is – is that I was not seeking perfection but balance, the balance my body naturally desired and would guide me to if I would only listen to it.
Once I began eating with this awareness, I observed that the fullness I sought from the extra slice of pizza or the third bagel was already within me. If this sounds Pollyanna, remember that the fullness is only there if you pay attention to it. Move the light beam of your attention to all those desirable, delicious things that other people have, and you are hungry again.
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