Part 2: Eating Guideline #1 – Eat When You Are Hungry

Summary Notes by Bonnie Rosen, Edited by Judy Ross


Geneen: I want to welcome each of you.

As Sil mentioned, be sure you’re in a place where you won’t be disturbed over the next 90 minutes. It’s such a luxury to take this time for yourself, to be thinking and feeling into yourself.

If you’re on the internet, on your Facebook page, doing emails, tweeting, allow yourself to just come back to this. Often, we don’t know we’re allowed. There is something in us that feels slightly guilty about taking this much time for ourselves.

Make sure you’re sitting down rather than lying down, because that way you’re still alert and relaxed but not about to fall asleep.

I know many are listening to us, around the US and all over the world. But wherever you are and however you are listening - whether live or downloading it later, over the phone or on the internet - take some time now to settle in and to be with yourself. That is a big thing to do, a new thing to do, to have the luxury of that.

Begin by orienting yourself. We go through this orienting, grounding and centering process each time to get a sense of where you are and how you are. Hopefully you can do this on additional days other than Tuesdays.

Orient by taking a look around the room, looking up, looking down, looking from side to side, taking in the sight, the feast, of something that you have not actually taken in with your eyes. There are different ways to eat, and one is through your eyes, by allowing yourself to have pleasure by not just looking but by seeing. Notice something that you might have seen hundreds or thousands of times, and see it as if for the first time.

Next grounding yourself by becoming aware of the actual physical support of the Earth, the ground that is supporting you without your actually having to ask. Become aware of your feet touching the ground, of what you’re sitting on that is touching the ground, of the points of contact that your body is making with different parts of your body, with the chair. Really come into this location, letting yourself land in your body.

Now centering yourself, by becoming aware of your actual physical center - your belly. Put your right palm on top of your navel and then your left palm on top of your right palm. Now breathe in so that you can feel the way your breath moves your belly up and down.

Sensing that, feeling that. We take so much for granted. Even in this very moment, taking so much for granted that we’re actually not awake to the fact that we’re alive, right here and right now. That we can actually feel our breath, that we can breathe and then feel the breath.

It is said that if we all practice gratitude, saying thank you for what we already have, for what is already here, that that would be the only practice we ever needed. We would be in such deep appreciation that we would be filled with what’s here. Because every single one of us, right now in this moment, have so much. No matter what you think or feel that you don’t have, you do have so much more.

As soon as you start paying attention to what you do have - your feet on the floor, your breath in your belly, your breath in your body, the fact that you’re alive at this very moment while listening to these words. As soon as you start paying attention to what you do have, which includes your body sensations, which includes awareness of the food you are eating and the food in your mouth. As soon as you pay attention to what you do have and not to what you do not have, everything changes. We stop living in the past, and longing for a future that never comes, because of course when the future does come, it’s just now.

Sensing the feelings that you have right now and seeing if you can really, truly be aware of that. And then slowly opening your eyes, if they have been closed.

Before I begin talking about our main topic, I want everyone to be aware of the community that we are in this moment. The fact that there are hundreds of people with us at this very moment, either on the phone or on the internet. That we are not alone. See if you can sense that. We’ll say good bye to each other at the very end of the call, but right now see if you can sense that the longing that pulled you here is shared. That there is a community and you are not alone.


And I want you to become aware of your intention for this session. Tonight, this afternoon, this morning or whenever you’re listening to this.

What do you really want? I start each in-person retreat by asking people what they really want and why they really came. After they name that, I ask them to go one level deeper to what they really want.

And now what do you really, really want? What is it that you really want for yourself? What is it that you long for in yourself, in your life, that doesn’t involve other people? It involves just you, with you.

What is it really? What was the deepest heart pull that triggered you to sign up for this Online Retreat? It’s good to be aware of that. It’s good to name that.

EATING GUIDELINE: Eat When You Are Hungry

Many of us attended a workshop in the past couple of days, and as I talking just now about just being in this moment and not in the future or schlepping along our past with us, and allowing ourselves to have what we have, I am remembering that someone stood up and said at the workshop.

“I never really allow myself to be in this moment. It’s kind of like growing out my bangs. I’m either growing out my bangs and thinking about what my hair will look like when they’re all grown out … or If they’re grown out, I’m thinking I might have liked it better when I had bangs, and thinking about having bangs again. But there is never a sense of what it’s like now.”

If you’ve ever grown out bangs, you know that there is that sense of, “Ah, can’t wait to have them grown out.” But whatever state they are in this moment, it’s always the next place and the next place, not this place.

I laughed when she said that. That’s just the way it is when we think, “I’d have died to be as thin as I was five years ago, when I would have died to have been thinner.” That place of “where are we now?” Can we be where we are now? And the reason I’m talking about this before we actually talk about the Guideline - Eat When You Are Hungry - is that every one of these Guidelines is about the areas in our life that aren’t particularly about food or a guideline per se.

The Unfelt Universe

When you have an intention to follow a Guideline - when you start following it and tell yourself, “I’m only going to eat when hungry once today or twice today” - then all the reasons why you didn’t follow it before come up. As I sometimes say in the retreats, the unfelt universe arises when you start following the Eating Guidelines.

If we’ve used food for reasons other than as food, what the Eating Guidelines do is bring us back to using food for food. So all those other reasons we were using food came right back up. One or two or three of them come up. We are not necessarily flooded with them, but we are face to face with some of what we’ve been using food to push away or avoid. So the Eating Guidelines are also about our life that doesn’t have to do with food.

It’s very important to honor and acknowledge that however you’ve used food when not hungry, however you have not followed the Eating Guidelines, you have been really deeply doing the very best you can. You eat for exquisitely goodly reasons. That’s not an excuse or rationale for continuing to do that now, but without that kindness, without the atmosphere of kindness, in terms of how we treat ourselves, we’re lost. We wouldn’t be able to do this work. And most of us aren’t very kind to ourselves.

Curiosity and Kindness

Curiosity is very good. We have to be interested in what’s going on and even interested in why we’re not being interested. And the other essential ingredient here is kindness, developing a relationship with ourselves, as we go through this process, Guideline by Guideline, that is kind.

For many of us, this will be a challenge. It may be the first time we’ve done that. Or we’ll pick it up again and then forget kindness in the next moment. But the Eating Guideline’s themselves are utterly based in kindness, in having a kind and loving relationship with yourself and food.

If the Guidelines are based in kindness, then again, the ways that we’re not kind to ourselves will come up. Eating when you’re not hungry in the present moment is not a kind way to treat yourself. It might have been when you first started using food, might have been even two weeks ago, but you didn’t realize that you had a choice. If you’re feeling something that you don’t know what to do with and it seems impossible to feel it, then eating at that moment may seem like a kind thing to do.

I think it’s important to say both: That we used food for good reasons because we didn’t know we had a choice. And that in this moment, when we start following the Eating Guidelines, it’s important to remember that kindness is crucial. Love is everything here. Kindness is another way to say love. As the poet Galway Kinnell says, “Sometimes it’s necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness.” And that’s what we’re doing. We’re learning how to be lovely with ourselves.

Another thing to remember ia that this process does not happen by force. We’re not going to force these Eating Guidelines on ourselves. You can’t force yourself to eat when you’re hungry. You will only rebel. Force isn’t kind, deprivation isn’t kind, punishment isn’t kind and yelling isn’t kind. What is kind is to actually tell the truth and to see what’s going on.

Tune into your own body. When we talk about hunger on the physical level, we’re talking about is the body’s need for food. We’re talking about the need to eat to live, to sustain ourselves. The body has biological cues that are related to survival and one of them is hunger.

How Do I Know When I’m Hungry?

Question: Margaret asks,

“So how do I know when I’m hungry? It’s not always a growling in my stomach or a burning sensation. I’ve been attempting to eat when I’m hungry for over six months now and the only problem is that I’ve eaten because it’s time to eat and for emotional reasons for almost forty years and have no clue what physiological hunger feels like in my body. This is complicated by the fact that some of the cues I have been told are physical cues, like a hollow feeling in the gut, are some of the things I feel from emotional hunger. I am getting very confused by all the suggestions for clues like stomach growling, burning sensation, and location.”

Geneen: Hunger feels different for different people and at different points in our lives. Years ago, when I was first tuning into hunger, it did feel like a growling in my stomach, like a rolling cannon emptiness, like a bowling ball rolling around in my stomach area, which is below the breast and above the belly button.

If you are listening in a place where you can do this, put one of your hands right below your breast and the other one right on your belly button and tune into what your body is telling you in terms of physical hunger. You can’t use your mind here. Regardless of what your mind is telling you, see what your body is telling you. Forget the rolling, growling, and empty sensations.

Just really tune in right here, right now. If your stomach and abdomen could talk to you about their need for food, what would they say? Are they hungry? Are you hungry? Depending on what you’ve eaten, you could be hungry now. Sometimes you’re not hungry even if you’ve eaten three or four hours ago.

Just for now, feel into your body. This is going to take practice, over and over again. This is not something that you can tell right away. As Margaret has said, she has been practicing this for “over six months now and the only problem is I’ve eaten because it’s time to eat and for emotional reasons for almost forty years and have no clue what physiological hunger feels like in my body.”

In order to actually tell when your body is hungry, you’ve got to take at least a moment, at least one moment, to pay attention to it. It takes great effort to become effortless at anything, whether it’s getting to know your feelings, how your mind works, or what your particular cues are for being hungry. If you’re used to not paying attention, if like Margaret you’ve spent forty years eating because it’s time to eat, then it’s going to take some practice.

I know in my case, my hunger cues have changed. It used to be a rolling cannon bowling ball feeling in my body, and now it’s very different. There is a slight feeling of emptiness, there isn’t the growling and there is a sense that I’m getting a little spacey. A lot of times I feel it in my head. It’s a feeling that there is less of me here and I need some sustenance. But unless I am paying attention to that, I would miss it completely and push through it.

Rating yourself physically from 1 to 10 - with 1 being really hungry, 5 being comfortable and 10 being really stuffed - is a good way to gauge that before you eat. If you can count from 1 to 10, you can tell if you’re hungry. If you rate yourself 4 or below you’re hungry, 5 or above you are not. If you wait to eat until you’re too hungry, then you tend to get ravenous, slightly hysterical, anxious, famished and willing to eat anything quickly. And you eat way past satisfaction.

When following this Guideline or any Guideline, ask yourself: How would your life have to change for you to follow this Guideline? If you are used to plowing through your cues, how would your life need to change in order to notice and pay attention to your hunger signals?

What scares you about following this Guideline? What’s scary about only eating when you’re hungry? What’s scary about that? Notice what that is.

Hunger of the Heart

Question: Last week, we talked about being aware of the hungers of the heart. Casey says,

"When you want to eat when you’re not hungry, you mentioned that’s the number one sign that we’re hungry for something else. What do you do in the situation where you are hungry for something that you might not be able to have? What do you do when you hunger, per se, for a love you may not be able to obtain?”

That’s a question that comes up for many of us. If we feel like we’re hungry for something that we can’t have, then somehow it seems like food is a good stand in. “Okay, I’ll just eat because food is available. It doesn’t talk back. It doesn’t go away. It’s here, it’s always here. It tastes good, it’s cheap and I can obtain it.” Food becomes love at that point.

What do you do? You notice. Notice what it feels like to want something you don’t have. This particular choice point is, “Okay, I have a choice. Either I eat food when I’m not hungry and I make myself miserable by doing it, or I notice what is going on and notice that there is something that I’m longing for that I don’t have.”

Maybe you find out it’s the love of somebody else you can’t obtain. Or is it your own love? Is it your own attention? Is it a feeling of sweetness? Do you want another kind of relationship with yourself? Sometimes, often we look outside of ourselves for something that we also want inside of ourselves.

If you are always using food to fill those kinds of hungers, you will never be able to name those hungers. And then the next step, after naming them, is that you’ll never be able to know if they’re not what you think they are. Is it really love you can’t obtain? Is it for your own love? Is it for something else? This is when inquiry comes in, letting you to begin being with yourself in another way, sitting with your feelings.

This is important. If we’ve become so used to using food to calm ourselves, to soothe ourselves, then part of the practice here is finding different ways to feed ourselves that don’t involve food. And knowing yourself well enough to know what they are.

Some people need to take action. Some people need to take a walk or do something to soothe themselves. Some need to just sit and be quiet. For some taking a bath would be a perfect thing. If you’re at work, the option might be spending time with yourself or making contact with someone else or taking some kind of action. Reading something you love, having quotes around that touch you, having an iPod so that you can listen to a piece of music for a few minutes to change how you’re feeling.

There has got to be some other way, as Casey says, for “a love I can’t obtain.” Is that actually true? Is it the love out there, or is it my love?

How else can you treat yourself with kindness, soothe yourself. What if it really is something you can’t have? Okay, experience that. Maybe that is what the hunger really is about. Then you need to find, develop and practice different ways to meet yourself, soothe yourself, without food. Treat yourself well without food.

For many of us, we are one note ponies. Food is our thing. We use it because it’s easy. It tastes good, doesn’t walk out, doesn’t get drunk, doesn’t say no. It’s just there.

I was reading comments on my Facebook page today from people at the workshop. One person said, “After coming to the workshop and feeling so nourished, the first thing that I thought about when I left and got in my car was: Is there a place for Mexican food around here?”

There is an immediate click. Time to eat when I’m not hungry. In that case, there is the transition of leaving a workshop to ask: What am I feeling right now? With the hunger scale of 1-10, you check in with yourself. If you’re not hungry, the next step is to notice, “Okay, I’ve committed myself to not eat when not hungry.” And that is unknown territory, foreign territory. It’s like speaking a foreign language and learning a different way into yourself that doesn’t involve food.

I often say that when Itzhak Perlman picked up the violin for the first time, or second, third, 50th and 60th time, it probably sounded terrible, terrible. So this is not necessarily something you’re going to be good at right away.

Someone leaving a workshop and feeling deeply fed in her soul and still the first question that comes up is, “Is the nearest place for Mexican food even though I’m not feeling hungry.”

My first thought is, “Okay, that’s fine.” My second thought is, “If I’m not hungry, what’s going on? Do I feel concerned or do I feel elated?” Many of us eat when we’re not hungry, when we feel happy. We don’t know what to do with that energy.

So here’s the scenario: “Instead of letting myself feel this moment of excitement or even a little lost, I’ll just fill myself up by eating Mexican food. I’ll go into something that I know. Because then I’ll be unhappy with myself and I’ll feel like a failure. Then I’m back and I know who I am. I’m me. I’m a failure. I knew it! I should never have believed in this. I knew I’d be a failure!”

That familiar sense of yourself is back. And that feeling of excitement or elation or possibility, like a brand new bud, is gone.

The question of what scares you about following this Eating Guidelines might be: “I might feel things I’ve never felt, or I might actually be able to do this and then who would I be? If my sense of self is about failing, if the way that I know myself is by this constant struggle with food, and if the struggle ends, who am I then? Who am I then?” That’s a question to ask ourselves because that is part of what scares us.

What Scares You About the Eating Guidelines?

Question: Stephanie wrote,

“I’m feeling very passionate that trusting myself, and reframing the way how I feel about food and love, are right for me. However, when I’m among my woman friends, the diet conversation permeates every activity from work to social. How do you stop the voice from encouraging you to jump back on the diet bandwagon, when the majorities around you are talking about their wonderful successes?”

Geneen: This speaks to what scares you about being successful with the Eating Guidelines.

Perhaps it’s that you’ll be different from your friends. You won’t be part of the “whiners and diners.” We’re so used to congregating and bonding with the wounding, pain and anguish associated with food that what scares us about following this Eating Guideline or others is, “I’ll be alone,” or “I’ll be unloved,” or “I won’t have a way to connect with my friends,” or “I won’t have something that I want to talk about when they’re all talking about their newest diet.” And part of that is true.

Because another question about these Eating Guidelines that I want to ask you is: What relationships would change if you eat when you were hungry? If you were successful, as Stephanie said, more successful at this than in all your diets, what relationships would need to change? Are there relationships that are dependent on you struggling and feeling bad about yourself with food?

You may have relationships like that. This is where the Eating Guidelines interface with the non-eating guidelines of our life in basic, implicit and often invisible ways. What would happen?

What would happen if friends at work were gathering together to talk about their newest failures or diet, and you didn’t have anything to say. You were eating when you were hungry and feeling fabulous about it. And stopping when your body had had enough, and feeling great about it. Actually breaking free. I want each of you to imagine that.

As I’ve said many times, I know it is possible. If I can do it, you can do it. What if you did it? What in your life would change? And are you okay with that? Because it might mean that you wouldn’t be part of that conversation. If your own well-being, if your body, if your health, if your sense of wellness and if your own connection to your own heart and soul are more important than being part of the winner and dinners? Or is it less important?

As kids we’re willing to do anything to be loved. As kids it’s a necessity. We need to be loved to live, to be taken care of, to be fed and to be clothed. We need love.

And for many children, many of us needed to because of circumstances in our families. Maybe there was illness or depression, divorce, death. If our mothers were depressed or ill, or our needs were too much, and we learned to pipe down, to tamp down. For any number of reasons, we learned to separate from who we know ourselves to be so that we can be loved, so that we can be accepted. It’s a necessity as a child. And we’ve become so used to it, to giving ourselves away, to leaving ourselves behind, to letting go of the truth.

We think we have to keep doing it. We think that being part of the “whiners and diners” is a matter of life or death. What would it be like to have a friend or two who was actually sharing with you what it was like to free yourself from the compulsion from food by trusting yourself and following the Eating Guidelines? Having a relationship or a few relationships based on truth and not based on being in the suffering club. Can you see that? Do you want that?

Because the next question is: What is the benefit of not following this guideline? How does this help you not to follow this guideline? How does it help you? What’s the benefit?

For Stephanie, one benefit might be that she gets to feel part of the club, gets to feel accepted and loved. Another benefit might be that by keeping yourself small, continuing this struggle with food, you can stay loved and accepted.

Being loved is a BIG benefit here. But if you’re loved for a life based on a lie, if you’re loved by pushing away what’s true, if you’re loved because you’re not being real, you’re not being everything you can be, is that actually love, is that really love?

I don’t think so and I think we know that. We’re haunted by that because we sense the promise that our lives are. Because we sense that there is something for us to be and we know that our compulsion with food is keeping ourselves from that. It’s keeping us small. It’s keeping us wedded to anguish. It might scare us to be BIG. It might scare us to be who we sense we are.


Let’s go back over the five questions that I want you to ask yourself about this Eating Guidelines and any Eating Guideline.

1. What scares you about following this Eating Guideline? Who would be threatened in your life if you followed this Guideline? It might be somebody in your family. Eating when you’re hungry might mean eating at different times during the week than your spouse or children. How would you handle that? Could you stand behind yourself and say, “This is important to me and I need to do this!”

2. What would your life be like if you followed the Guideline? Does being part of something require you eating when you’re not hungry? Is love or connection or contact based on you doing something to or in yourself that’s not right for you?

3. How would your life have to change to follow this Guideline? Would you carry food around with you? Somebody on my Facebook page said that she started to carry food around with her. I do that, even on a plane. I make sure that I have what I want to eat so if worse comes to worse, there is something for me to eat always. You may or may not want to do that. But how would your life have to change if you only eat when you were hungry?

4. What relationships would change? And how would they change?

5. What is the benefit of NOT following this Guideline? How does it help you? What do you get? Do you get to keep feeling bad about yourself and therefore not recognizing yourself?

For a long time, I felt that the only way I knew I was “me” was if you scratched away everything from the surface, what you’d find at the essence of “me” was damage. What would you find is a failure. Everything else was on top of that was pretend. But who I was, was a failure. Who I was, was damaged and irrevocably damaged.

Let’s imagine that it was me who had written about leaving the workshop feeling great and then wanted to find the next Mexican Restaurant. What would have been scaring me in that moment was that I was feeling myself as someone different from than that damaged, doomed, selfish being … and that’s scary.

The Familiar Self

If you have known yourself as one flavor, there is an atmosphere we all have when we are feeling most like ourselves. It’s a familiar self we take ourselves to be based on our history, based on the interpretation that we made and other people made of our behavior. I call it at the retreats a “default self” that has formed an identity, a deep sense of who we believe we are based on how we were treated, what happened, our particular failures in our mind, the ways we were loved or not loved. That’s our familiar self.

Your familiar self is used to eating and using food as a way to reinforce itself. Because when we eat compulsively, we all feel, “Oh no, I’m doing it again. I’m bad, I’m doomed, I’m damaged and I’m never going to get over this.” That cycle reinforces who we take ourselves to be.

So, when I ask you to follow the Eating Guidelines, there is something scary and anxiety provoking, something new, to that sense of the familiar default self. It challenges that. Sil, is this making sense to you?

Sil: Yes, this definitely makes so much sense. I’ve been struck by how you started with the meditation and with us tuning in through a way we don’t usually tune in. And then struck with how you did the same thing with eating when you’re not hungry. I’m learning that it’s a meditative practice and that we need to check in at an emotional level, physical level and with awareness of this default self. We need to begin to question who we’ve believed ourselves to be and the ways in which we have not known who we really are. The Eating Guidelines are a way to that real self.

Geneen: It’s good to sense how deep this really goes. That’s what I really want all of you to know. It’s not just about food. We use food to keep ourselves alive and nourish our bodies. But when we become compulsive about it, it’s a way to keep ourselves small and a way to keep from getting to know ourselves.

Deserving to Eat When Hungry

Question: Bonnie asked:

“I’ve noticed that is week that I’ve had a tremendous amount of guilt associated with eating, when hungry or not. What can I do to melt that guilt which is marinated on a deep emotional level?”

Geneen: This is part of what I’m talking about. When you start noticing what you do with food, you’ll notice how you feel about being yourself when it’s connected to you truly, truly being yourself. If you have guilt about feeding yourself, about giving yourself what you really need which is eating when you’re hungry.

Just the fact of giving yourself that time to check into yourself might trigger some guilt. Do I deserve to feed myself? Many times as compulsive eaters, we feel that we don’t deserve to eat. If we’re over our natural weight, then somehow we feel like we’re really not supposed to eat, to truly take care of ourselves and to have pleasure. We’re only supposed to eat celery and carrot sticks. And not even carrot sticks because they are high on the glycemic index.

We’re not supposed to feed ourselves. We don’t deserve that much. That is an underlying belief because it’s connected to that familiar self. Who I take myself to be is somebody who doesn’t deserve that. If I’m damaged, I’m not supposed to have that because I’m only supposed to be …. (you fill in the blank).

What do you believe you need to do to make up for what you believe are your defects of your familiar self or true self? And how is that connected with food?

You might think, “I’m going to take time with myself. I’m going to let myself really, really sense when I’m really hungry. And that means giving myself time to sense that. And that means caring about myself enough to wait until I’m hungry and to be kind to myself.”

If you have guilt about just simply being yourself or feeding yourself or giving to yourself, then eating when you’re hungry is going to challenge that. That’s the first thing you notice. Is it guilt about being myself? Is it guilt about feeding myself? Is it guilt about eating anything at all? Because, “If I was really doing my work, I would be starving myself.”

For so many years, I felt like a New Yorker cartoon that read, “I don’t think that I’m the right person to be leading my life.” I felt that I needed to be someone else, because who I was is not okay. So if you feel that who you are is not okay, then do you think it will be okay to feed yourself? That’s how the Eating Guidelines bring up the other issues.

Health Issues and Eating When Hungry

Question: I want to move onto Karen. She says,

“How would you address eating when you’re hungry being a Type 1 diabetic and insulin dependent. I really need to eat every three to four hours. And if I wait to eat until I’m hungry, it could be too late and not a good outcome, i.e. insulin shock and low blood sugar. So how do I do this? I’ve been struggling with it and I’m trying to follow Eating Guideline number one.”

This is a really good question. There was another good question about having some kind of restriction with food because of a particular physical condition, when you need to really eat to nourish your body and not what your mind wants to eat. So when you start getting hungry, you immediately go into what your mind wants and not really listening to what your body wants. How do these Eating Guidelines work when you are insulin dependent or on a restricted food plan? These are really important questions.

There are many different kinds of deprivation. There is the deprivation of not eating certain foods and also of not eating particular foods because of how your body will feel when you eat them. You choose one or the other. You can choose to focus on what you don’t have or choose to focus on what you do have. Do you choose to focus on foods that allow your body to feel well or choose to focus on the foods that you want but that your body doesn’t feel well when you eat them.

There are lots and lots of food in my own life that I used to eat and I no longer eat. Because when I eat them, I don’t feel well. I used to go to a restaurant and have a great meal and then the dessert menu would come. I remember going out with three friends and ordering four desserts. I had a few bites of each because I wanted just a taste of sugar in my mouth.

Now, there is nothing wrong with a taste of sugar in my mouth, but I would go from satisfied to being full, feeling a little sick. It was hard giving up the fabulous desserts, but it wasn’t hard when I tuned into how my body felt, when I saw I had a choice. I could either leave the restaurant feeling good or leave feeling full or a little sick.

What do I really want? That’s a question to ask yourself. There are always going to be foods that your body doesn’t want, foods that your mind would like, but when you eat them your body isn’t happy. It’s a choice and you’re choosing one thing over another. Look at it as if you are choosing one type of deprivation over another.

For a long time I was willing to not feeling great versus the deprivation of not having dessert. I could feel great and do I want to give that up? The answer was No. I didn’t want to give that up. So you really get to choose.

When you are insulin dependent like Karen, that’s a different issue. She says, “If I wait to eat until I’m hungry, it may be waiting too long and it’s not a good outcome.” The answer is: Always take care of yourself, take care of your body. If you need to eat every three to four hours, that’s your particular situation and adapt the Eating Guidelines to your situation.

You work with your body and your health first. Always. So try eating the kind and amounts of food you need to eat every couple of hours, and maybe you can expand within that constraint. But you don’t risk your own health.

The Eating Guidelines Are About Love

Question: Someone else asked: “How do I eat chocolate or any other snack and not break Eating Guidelines Four and Six?”

Geneen: The first thing to address in this question is that the Eating Guidelines have been turned into rules. I know that there is a predilection to turn them into rules by everyone. This is very important to address.

These are not rules. The Eating Guidelines are pointers to taking care of yourself with love with food. They are “If love could speak to you about food” guidelines. They are love in the form of guidelines. They are not rules. Love doesn’t force or shame or guilt you.

Love loves you. Love only wants for you to have your full gorgeous magnificent life. Love wants this for you. That’s what you want for anyone you truly love - for them to bloom and flower. How do you best do that with food? By following the Guidelines. And for this week, by eating when you’re hungry. That’s how you do that.

Now, the chocolate question is one you need to ask yourself. For myself, I would not be happy without chocolate. Dean Ornish said, “I wouldn’t want to be around in a world without chocolate.” I really like chocolate. Is my body really hungry physically for chocolate? No, it’s not.

By experimenting, I have found the amount and kind of chocolate I can eat - a small piece of dark chocolate after a meal. A small piece that I can pay attention to, that feels good in my mouth and body, that doesn’t make me sick and satisfies that chocolate need.

It took me a while to get to the percent of dark chocolate. With dark chocolate, the content of the fat and sugar is even so it doesn’t mess around with your blood sugar. Too sweet and it does. That’s me and that’s what I’ve discovered. If you’re diabetic, it’s different.

Food needs to be pleasurable and beauty is necessary in both finances and food. If you take out the pleasure and beauty in your world, what’s the point?

I wanted to mention that I had written in the agenda that we’d talk about the “hummers and beckoners” - the foods (and other desires) that pull us away from our true center. However, these are really more about “eat what you want” than “eat when you’re hungry.” They are more about what your body actually wants. So we will cover those in the Eating Guideline on what your body wants.

THIS WEEK’S PRACTICES: Eat Sitting Down and Without Distraction

Finally, I want to talk a little bit about the next Online Retreat session and what I’d like you to do this week, some food related and some non-food related.

Next session, we’ll talk about the Guideline “eat sitting down in a calm environment (and this isn’t in your car) and eat without distraction.” What I’d like you to do this week at least one time each day is:

1. Continue noticing when you’re hungry. Each week, we’ll be adding practices, because the Eating Guidelines are progressive. So continue with eating when you are hungry and seeing what that’s like.

2. Eat sitting down without distraction and in a calm environment. See what that’s like for you. Most of us are frantically eating. We’re eating running around, watching TV, on the internet, in the car, on Facebook. Try to eat without those distractions and see what it’s like.

3. Discover and begin at least one way to take care of yourself, to soothe and calm yourself that isn’t centered on food. What is it for you? Is it quiet or action oriented, depending on your particular temperament?

4. Be aware that we are a community of hundreds of people, right here and right now. Become aware of that and become aware that we’re doing something so loving and so deep for your longing to have a full and magnificent life.


I thank all of you for being here. I want to thank Sil our moderator and Jay who is our online strategist and webmaster and for the Online Retreat, and Judy and Bonnie for the summaries.

I wish you all a blessed, blessed week.

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