How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. Follow Kimber as she shares her journey to loving her body, the joys and sorrows of yoga teaching, and venturing into the wilderness of writing and publishing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Love Your Slow Sex: Love Your Body Blog Part 47

Today I digress to talk more about sex. Sex and loving your body go hand-in-hand, and I didn’t get any complaints from my last venture onto this limb, quite the opposite, in fact! You might remember that several weeks ago I gave away a free One Taste women’s sexuality retreat to a blog-reader. This week I’m sharing with you a new book written by the facilitator of the retreat, Nicole Daedone, called Slow Sex: the Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm.

Has it ever happened that you never noticed something in the world, let’s say delivery trucks with attached lift equipment, until one backs into your car, squashing your hood, and then suddenly you start seeing them everywhere?

Not to say this has ever happened to me, except for last Thursday afternoon. Since then, it’s as if delivery trucks were invented and populated the planet overnight. They are everywhere.

When the folks at One Taste first contacted me, I had never heard of them in the 17 years I’ve lived in the Bay Area. Then overnight, friends and acquaintances at parties start telling me, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of them, they have a center in SF, don’t they… [fill in the blank],” and later they email me articles from the New York Times and Salon. Suddenly I’m feeling like the kid who was in the bathroom while the teacher did a headstand on her desk. Where have I been? And what is this whole celebration of the female orgasm about?

In the book’s intro, Daedone compares slow sex to the taste of a ripe, juicy heirloom tomato.

That certainly grabbed my attention. As the granddaughter of a man who considered a plate of his home-grown sliced tomatoes a dessert equal to my grandmother’s blackberry cobbler, when you start talking tomatoes, I know you’re serious. What else really needs to be said?

A lot apparently.

Apparently we’re pretty repressed (no surprise there), don’t know what to ask for, or how to ask for it (somewhat surprising), and don’t feel entitled to acknowledge our desires (disturbing and definitely worth looking into). Slow Sex offers men a way to listen and tap into female desire, and shows women how to unearth their desire and release it in a way that reinvigorates their whole lives.

From the gossip I’d heard about One Taste, I expected Slow Sex to be an indictment of monogamy and a clarion call for a return to the glories of 70’s style swinging.

If that’s the book you’re looking for, save your money. Daedone describes her orgasmic meditation and slow sex techniques mostly as they apply to primary heterosexual relationships, with the exception of a few nods to singles and lesbian and gay couples. Conventional and yet not.

Though I’m at the disadvantage of not having read widely in the field of sex manuals (with the notable exception of The Joy of Sex shared up and down the dorm hallway in college), the upshot of Slow Sex is this: women’s orgasms matter, and they are not what you think. They are not fancy, not high-volume, not fever-pitched. They don’t require an advanced degree in biomechanical engineering.

A woman can orgasm for 15 minutes or for the rest of her life.

Any woman. You. The secret is what Daedone calls Orgasmic Meditation or OMing (cute, huh?). You may never again Om at the beginning of yoga class without an inner smile. OMing and Om-ing are essentially unrelated, except that they both invoke a meditative state of concentration. In the chapter “How to Om”, Daedone takes you and your partner through all the steps to OM, building communication, trust, and access to an inexhaustible source of energy along the way. Honestly, it sounds pretty fun.

To tell you the truth, I haven’t tried OM yet, but I’m intrigued.

A technique that combines meditation, orgasm, relationship, and increased joy for life? I’m listening.

What especially delights me about Slow Sex is its emphasis on how to listen to your body, feel the sensations, and grow in your sensitivity and awareness. As in yoga, desire is not a problem, but a path to explore honestly, with love and devotion. In these ways, Slow Sex is simply an extension of yoga practice into intimate relationships and reveals an ocean worth diving into.

As I turned the last page last night, I wondered who should read this book.

Which of my friends and students would find this book helpful, even life-changing? Here are some questions you can ask yourself: Do you want to experience orgasm, possibly for the first time, or in a different way than you ever imagined? Do you want to improve your communication during sex with your partner, and possibly in the rest of your relationship as well? Do you want to access your desire more deeply, and learn to channel it into your life? Do you sense that OM might take you further on your journey of learning to love your body? Maybe OM is for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

To find out more about One Taste go to . To view Slow Sex on Amazon, click here. (And no, silly, of course I don’t get kickbacks.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Second Arrow: Love Your Body Blog Part 46

What do you see when you look in the mirror? What story do you tell yourself about your body?

If you’re like many people, when you see your reflection in the mirror, you think, “Ugh. When will I get rid of these fat rolls/cellulite mountains/burgeoning stretch marks?!” Then you silently (or not so silently) vow that tomorrow you are starting a new diet/new exercise program/new strategy for excising that part of your body forever. Then later, when you’re driving, or washing the dishes, or talking to a friend on the phone, you’re still giving yourself a hard time about it-- sometimes for hours or weeks.

“There are two arrows,” Buddha told his students. “The first arrow is pain, injury, loss. You can’t avoid it. What you can avoid is the second arrow; the one you shoot at yourself about why you got shot by the first arrow to begin with.”

When I share this story with my yoga students, they often look at me with surprise. “I don’t have to shoot the second arrow? I don’t have to tell and re-tell the story about how there is something wrong with me? Or him? Or the world?” Nope. That’s the suffering we create for ourselves. You don’t have to tell the story that makes you or the world bad.

Here’s an example: my partner comes home late from work. I’m mad, because I had dinner ready 45 minutes ago, and she didn’t even call to tell me she was running late. Her being late is the first arrow. The second arrow is the story I tell myself:

What a complete, inconsiderate, insensitive, self-centered jerk! I can’t believe I married her. What’s wrong with me that I always end up with people who walk all over me?

Then I shoot a few kerosene-soaked second arrows at her, too. Add a little PMS to this flammable mix of arrows, and we can end up in an epic, hours-long fight involving slamming doors, threats of divorce, and multiple emptied tissue boxes.

Instead, what if I didn’t shoot the second arrow?

People are late sometimes and forget to call, despite their best efforts. What if I thought to myself, “I’m bummed she got home late. Maybe she’s bummed too. I know she loves me and would never do this on purpose.”? First arrow but no second arrow. Pain but no suffering. Disappointment but no argument.

When you look into the mirror what’s the first arrow? Your body. Your aging, changing, un-airbrushed body. Your body is what it is. It’s not bad, it’s not necessarily even painful. It’s just a body.

But looking in the mirror, I might instantly compare my lips to Angelina Jolie or my thighs to some 20 year old model’s that I saw on a radio station billboard. Squinting at the reflection I remind myself that my lips are nothing like Angelina’s and even when I was 20, my body did not look like an airbrushed model’s. The longer I look, the crappier I feel. Comparing myself negatively to someone else is a second arrow inandof itself. Then I get out the big artillery: the story I tell myself about why I don’t look “better.” It starts with, “What’s wrong with me that I don’t look younger/thinner/more gorgeous?” And moves to, “I need to work out more and do a master cleanse, that will get me started.” Soon my inner anorexic feels her powers return and she helpfully suggests, “Stop eating.” Uh-oh.

How do we stop shooting the second arrow?

First, notice when you start comparing. Your body stands alone. Your body is good and worthy. Heck, it’s carried you around your whole life, and for its thanks you compare it to Hollywood actresses, or your friend, or yourself ten years ago? Get real and give it a break. Second, notice when an encounter with the mirror (or scale---a different sort of mirror) sets your inner critic on a raucous meth-binge of self-hatred. Or sends you over a speed bump of dieting wistfulness.

Notice your usual second arrows.

Get to know them, let them become like old friends. When the one with the story about how you should eat and look like Kate Moss/your svelte aunt/your tiny friend comes up, just say, “Hey, it’s you again. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your opinion. You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t serve you refreshments and ask you to stay awhile, but I’ve really got better things to do.”

When you notice yourself repeating a really sticky story (like shooting yourself over and over with the same second arrow), observe how it feels in your body and in your heart. Offer it your breath, and a sense of spaciousness and tenderness. These stories can be powerful and persistent. But really, they’re just stories.

You have the ability to tell different stories.

Nowadays, instead of shooting second arrows at myself, when I see my reflection in the mirror, I tell myself:

This is a good body. Thanks for everything you do, body. I’m working hard to learn to love you and to keep loving you no matter what. We’re in this together.

Instead of being mad at my body, I feel a sense of friendliness and trust. Where I once had to duck to avoid the second arrows, now my body soaks up gratitude and affection.

The next time you find yourself in the mirror, notice your second arrows, get to know them, and offer your reflection healing, instead of hurt.

(Thanks to yoga instructor and author Judith Lasater, who first told me a version of the second arrow story.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Body Snark: Love Your Body Blog Part 45

Are you snarky about bodies?

You know what I mean: Have you ever elbowed a friend who’s gained some weight and thought (or said!), “Hey, leave some for me!” Do you look at super-skinny models and comment under your breath, “Ouch. Someone give that girl a sandwich.” Honestly, even saying to someone, “You look great, have you lost weight?” is unintentionally snarky. Think about it: you’re implying you thought all along they should lose a few pounds… and well, they didn’t look so hot before. Plus, I’ve had enough friends go through cancer that I make a point of not mentioning someone’s missing pounds. Seriously, once you overhear someone’s reply, “Oh yeah, I got my diagnosis last month and the chemo’s really killed my appetite,” you’ll never mention weight loss again.

In fact, I still get triggered if someone asks me I’ve lost weight.

My mind spins off, “Did I look fat before? Why are they keeping track of my weight? Everybody’s looking at me. Maybe everybody thinks I’m fat. Why do I look skinnier? Maybe I’m not eating enough. Maybe I’m becoming anorexic again. Now I’m hungry.” My thoughts zoom away on their own wild roller coaster. Most days I have the peace of mind to step off before the ride gets too scary, but not always.

Yet I’m guilty of overt snark myself.

Just the other day while walking in San Francisco, I saw a gym ad on the side of the bus with the skinniest woman I’d seen in a long time. My first thought was, “Ew. When did they start using famine victims to advertise gym memberships?”

This is a complicated sentiment for me.

At first, I was pleased with myself. Not so long ago, this recovering anorexic still wanted to be that super-skinny model. I take my mean comment as proof that my inner anorexic is off-duty, and that I no longer equate skinniness with health and desirability. I also feel justified in acknowledging that holding up super-skinny women as what all women should (want to) look like is a mean-spirited practical joke for most of us.

However, labeling all super-skinny women as famine victims is just as unfair as labeling all fat people gluttons. Several of my thin friends have trouble keeping weight on, not because they are starving themselves, but because of their metabolism and body type. They don’t need my labels or my snarkiness. Or anyone else’s. Thin, fat, or anything in between, no body enjoys insensitive criticism.

Many of my fat friends don’t mind being called “fat”: in fact, in some circles, identifying as fat is empowering, like reclaiming the word queer (although you should ask people what term they prefer). But they don’t appreciate ignorant comments from random strangers like, “Why don’t you join a gym?” (They probably already do), or “Lay off the burgers and fries,” or “Keep eating those salads and you’ll lose those pounds” (Maybe this burger is the only thing I’ve eaten today, or maybe I just like salad, I’m not trying to lose weight). One blogger, Dances With Fat, calls going out a “Public Display of Fatness,” during which a fat person can be subjected to all kinds of unhelpful and insulting advice from folks who can’t just mind their own beeswax.

When will we finally admit that you can’t tell anything about someone just by looking at their body?

You don’t know if they are happy or sad, active or lazy, if they love their body or hate it, if they wish they had a different body or enjoy their body and their life just the way they are. Actually, it’s none of our business.

At the first Love Your Body workshop last spring, one of the students suggested a new rule about bodies: “No commenting on bodies without joy, love, and praise for life.” In other words, no snark.

Can you see what’s genuinely beautiful in your friend who’s gained weight? Can you praise your fat friend’s radiance and glow? Can you be joyful about your skinny friend’s body, and the bodies of all shapes and sizes of those you love? Every body you see houses a person’s dreams, hopes, wisdom, joy, and sorrow. Look for what’s good in them, what’s right and lovely. No one needs our snarkiness… is that really what we want to put out there into the world? But lots of people need our love and acceptance. Including ourselves.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What the Heck is Intuitive Eating, Anyway?

Today I’m excited to share with you an interview with the amazing Golda Poretsky. Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a wellness company that provides individual and group counseling from a Health At Every Size perspective. Via her blog, podcast, and counseling programs, she helps women and men throughout the country get off the dieting roller coaster, give their bodies what they really crave, and love their bodies and themselves. Golda's programs and activism work have been featured on CBS's The Early Show, ABC's Nightline, NBC's LX New York and Time Out New York. She is also author of Stop Dieting Now: 25 Reasons To Stop, 25 Ways To Heal, available in softcover, Kindle, and Nook.

SPECIAL OFFER: As a special gift for lucky readers, Golda is gifting a free Food Mood Transformation Session to the first 5 Finding Fullness readers who sign up. This is your chance to talk to Golda about any struggles you’re having with food and body image, and get some real solutions for moving forward. To sign up for your free session, go to

1. Briefly, Golda, what is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is a practice of listening to your body's food desires and feelings of hunger and fullness, and making food choices based on those indicators.

2. How has eating intuitively affected your own life?

Oh, gosh. It's affected my life in so many ways. But I think the hugest impact of intuitive eating is emotional. I was a lifelong dieter until I found intuitive eating. I was always on a diet, and when I wasn't, I was stressing about whether I should or not. But now, I don't spend my days stressing about food, what I'm going to eat, what I can eat, what I can't eat. I don't count points or calories or carbs or fat grams. I just eat good food that I like, and I pay attention to my hunger and fullness. It's a really peaceful place to be.

3. What are the first steps someone who wants to learn to eat intuitively can take?

Truthfully, the best place to start is uncovering your "food rules." Most of us have rules that we've carried with us from past diets, and often they conflict. We see ourselves as "being good" when we stick to our rules and "being bad" when we don't. So it's important to get a lot of clarity on what our beliefs are around food and begin to let go of them, so that we can hear our inner wisdom.

4. How can intuitive eating help someone who sometimes over- or under-eats?

Because bingeing and restricting really aren't about the food, using intuitive eating tools can allow someone who binges or restricts to begin to get clarity on her/his emotional reality. That's really a key component of intuitive eating -- it gives you the space to acknowledge your emotional hunger as well as your physical hunger.

5. Why is intuitive eating better than dieting?

Dieting is incredibly detrimental. We're sold a lie that diets and weight loss are healthy and good for us, and that lie couldn't be further from the truth. In my book, Stop Dieting Now, I give 25 reasons to stop dieting, so it's hard to pick just one. But the main reason why intuitive eating is better than dieting is that diets impose a set of rules on the dieter that has nothing to do with that dieter. Your diet doesn't care if you're having a long, stressful day or an easy day at home. Your diet doesn't care if it's the summer in Southern Florida or the winter in Alaska. No matter what, you have to make choices based on that diet, not on what you want or need. Intuitive eating allows you to learn to listen to your body and trust that your body will direct you toward the nutrition you need.

6. What further resources would you recommend for someone who would like to step onto the path of intuitive eating?

I would highly recommend Linda Bacon's book: Health At Every Size, The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. It's a great way to learn the principles of intuitive eating while also learning why it's a good idea. There are lots of books on intuitive eating that may be more familiar to your readers, but I wouldn't recommend them because they talk about intuitive eating as a weight loss tool, which it isn't. Some people lose weight from intuitive eating and some don't, and I find that those who don't lose weight think they're doing it wrong. In other words, it becomes another diet that they feel they've failed at, which defeats the whole purpose!

I think it's also important to get help with this process. When you've suffered from disordered eating for years, usually reading a few books and blogs isn't going to do the trick. There are real issues to be worked through, and it's important to get support.

7. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us, Golda! I hope lots of readers take advantage of your resources and experience. Blessings!

Love Your Body Blog Part 44

Friday, May 13, 2011

Diet is “Die” with a “T”: Love Your Body Blog Part 43

You know what my body really hates? Diets. My best friend/body thinks diets stink, and doesn’t understand why I would ever force myself to suddenly and drastically change what I eat. Plus, she reminds me, I’ve tried diets before and they never, ever work, so there.

Why does my body hate dieting? Let’s ask her:

Hey Body, what’s the big deal? Why does the word “diet” get your panties all tied up in a knot?

1. Oh hon, where do I start? First off, when you listen to a diet, you’re not listening to ME. You’re ignoring my needs in favor of listening to somebody you’ve never met, who doesn’t care about your body, and who is probably just trying to get you to buy their book or pay an arm and a leg for their “guaranteed” system. The only thing that’s guaranteed is you’ll feel too humiliated to ask for a refund!

2. When you go on a diet, you’re treating me like I’m a dress size or a number on the scale. I am so much more than that, and you know it.

3. You only feel good if I’ve lost weight, and you’re pissed at me if you don’t.

4. When you go on a diet, you throw down the gauntlet. You declare war on me. I have no choice but to protect myself with cravings, hunger, and fatigue. I hate feeling like we’re not on the same side. I need you to love me and take care of me, respect me and adore me, not call me names and starve me. I want to support you too. Can’t we just all get along?

5. I like the size I’m at right now. I feel comfortable and healthy here. When you go on a diet, you’re trying to turn me into something I’m not; a tiny size zero. Can we just be realistic here? I am not meant to be a size zero. Not now, not ever. Not for diet pills, or liposuction, or gastric bypass surgery. I will never voluntarily be a size zero or anything close to it, and if you insist otherwise, we will have a problem.

My best friend/body sounds like she means business, doesn’t she? Trust me, you do not want to mess with her. When she’s taken care of, she’s all sweet pussycat, cuddle and purr, but if you threaten her, the claws come out!

Okay, Body, so how is dieting different from what we’re doing now, which is not eating sugar? (…I’ve given up most forms of sugar for almost two years now.) Couldn’t you say we’re on a sugar-free diet?

Eww! No way. I feel like we’re on a sugar-free fi-es-ta! But seriously, first of all, there’s no calorie restriction. You don’t leave me feeling hungry all the time.

Secondly, we agreed together that not eating sugar was a good idea. You were feeling tired a lot and started to notice that sugar made you crabby and crash out. We both feel way better without it, with lots more energy to have fun and get stuff done.

Thirdly, it’s NO BIG DEAL. If you feed me a little bit of sugar, there’s no failure, we just deal with it and move on. There’s no punishment and no anger.

Fourth, it’s not tied to my appearance or weight. The decision to eat less sugar was based on how you feel, not on what I look like. That’s the kind of change I can get behind.

Finally, you gave up sugar out of love for me, not out of unhappiness or disgust. Giving up sugar feels like devotion instead of deprivation. We’re increasing our level of love, trust, and understanding instead of undermining it. It’s as different as cats and… peanut butter.

Well, Body, say someone wants to change their eating habits to feel healthier, how would you recommend they go about it?

1. Change one small thing at a time, like eating more vegetables or less processed food, incorporating it over the course of a month or longer, until it becomes a habit. Only add another change once you and your body feel confident with the first.

2. Get your body’s buy in. Ask your body if it feels good about this change, and listen to your body’s answer. Give it veto power. If your body says it won’t work, it won’t, believe me!

3. Do it out of love for your body, not out of wanting to change your body or thinking there’s something wrong with your body. I speak for all bodies when I say, love the one you’re with!

What wisdom (or humor) does your body have to share about dieting? Let your body do the talking!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 42: Eat Like a Goddess

Years ago I asked my yoga students, “How would you treat yourself differently if you believed you were divine?” After class one student told me with a laugh, “If I believed I was divine, I wouldn’t eat standing up over the counter.” I agreed; if I believed I was divine, I wouldn’t eat behind the wheel of my car.

Can you imagine Aphrodite slurping down a veggie sandwich leaning over the kitchen counter (it would totally mess up her hair, and her toga… do you know how much the dry cleaning bills are for those things?), or Athena chowing down on a carnitas asada burrito behind the wheel of her convertible PT Cruiser? Seriously, the burrito is less believable than the car.

How would a goddess eat? Definitely sitting down. Preferably with servants waving palm fronds, serving peeled grapes… sorry, got a little carried away. How about with a single flower in the center of the table, a lovely glass of water with lemon, a freshly prepared dish in front of her with a seasonal variety of colors, textures, and flavors? As she settles into her chair she takes a moment to enjoy the beauty of the food in front of her. As her eyes take in the rich hues, she imagines the farms the vegetables came from, the sun shining on them, the rain moistening their roots, the nimble bees who pollinated each flower, and the hands that tended and picked them. She opens her hands around the plate and offers a blessing, “May all those who offer me this meal be blessed. May this food nourish me. May my energy and life honor all beings.”

Then each bite she takes in she sighs and lingers over, enjoying every aspect and sensation of eating. Yum.

At the end of her meal, perhaps in the company of other smiling goddesses (and gods), she leans back in her seat, feeling full and sated.

Why don’t we eat like goddesses? We’re busy. We’re tired. We have little ones to feed and laundry to do. We don’t feel entitled to really sit down and enjoy a meal.

But really, could you eat like a goddess once a day? How about once a week? Plan a goddess lunch with a friend, or make yourself a goddess meal. When you’re planning a meal or going out to eat, ask yourself, “What does my inner goddess want to eat?”

My inner goddess loves:

Eating outside, at a café patio, or in my own garden

A carafe of water at the table

Sweet red peppers (probably because they’re seasonal and pricey!)

Figs and berries

Leafy salads with Goddess dressing (c’mon, what did you expect?)

Finger foods like spring rolls

Curried vegetables, daal and rice

Asparagus, avocado, and artichokes

Sauteed greens

Flowers, yes even in the food

A sweet blessing

Anything prepared with love and creativity

My inner goddess also likes to eat slowly and in the company of good friends (even if they’re flowers). Listen to your inner goddess and let her teach you how to eat with great mindfulness and enjoyment. To nourish her, ask her what she needs, what she loves, and feed it to her. Slowly and with great love.

What does your inner goddess love?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 41: Food Rules!

I love Michael Pollan. His book, The Botany of Desire, forever changed the way I think about apples (Johnny Appleseed as a hard-cider swilling Dionysus), and marijuana (did you know your body naturally produces some of the same active chemicals found in weed?). His latest Food Rules rocked my world, too: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Simple, elegant, pithy. As a former anorexic with a disturbing past tendency to punish myself around food, I would add the following corollary: “Not too little food, either!” Not too much and not too little is the secret to balance in everything. (I’ll discuss this more in terms of intuitive eating in a later post.)

Twinkies and Slim Jims do not count as “food”, according to Pollan; too many ingredients (he recommends eating things with less than five ingredients), half of which your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food… polysorbate 60, sodium nitrate, hydrolyzed soy protein.

I love the idea of my great-grandmother picking up items at the local Safeway and reading the ingredients with one eyebrow cocked up, lips pursed.

Maltodextrin? Emulsifier: E-471? In her flour-dusted apron, she'd politely place the Pringles can back on the shelf and wonder to herself when she’d stopped understanding English. Wandering down the baking aisle, after a brief mystified glance at the Betty Crocker section (What?! Cake in a box? She’d shake the box and think aloud, “Strange. It doesn’t sound like cake.”), she’d load up her cart with two 20 lb bags of flour ($2 off two with your Safeway club card!), a can of baking powder, and be on her way. Biscuits, pie, and the farm. What else does a family need?

Whole foods provide a nutritional punch processed foods lose—ahem—in the process. Vegetables and fruits normally require you to interact with them: peel them, often cook them, and sit down to eat and enjoy them. Processed foods are designed to be eaten anywhere, on the run, in the car, while pumping your gas. Of course, yesterday while waiting for a red light, I saw a twenty-something hipster stride by in the crosswalk eating a salad out of a plastic container with a fork. Maybe we’ll figure out how to cook and walk too. Sigh.

What does all of this have to do with loving your body? Your body evolved over millions of years eating whole foods. Modern processed foods have only been around for several decades. Whole foods are your body’s home base, its basic fuel source. Many of us have trained ourselves to survive on processed foods, and our minds and bodies may come to crave these foods almost exclusively. This is why the farmers market is a great way to bring more whole foods into your diet. In the outside air, away from the aisles of canned meat and sugar cereals, your body can experience what humans have experienced for thousands of years, since the first farmers grew a surplus to sell to their neighbors: a community brought together to feed their bodies from the abundance of the earth. Amid the stands of brightly colored seasonal produce, notice what the predominant color is: in almost every season, it’s green. Invite your eyes to take in the saturated green of the chard leaves, the silvery green of the dinosaur kale, and the feathery green of freshly pulled carrot tops.

If you’re a regular at the farmers market, just listen to what your body wants, let it choose what’s for dinner. If you’re new to the market, go and buy just one thing your body feels drawn to. Ask the person standing next to you how to best prepare it. Who knows, in Berkeley you might be standing next to Alice Waters or Jessica Prentice! Or Michael Pollan himself.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 40: My body loves SPAM with a side of Twinkies. Not!

What does your body love to eat? Your first reaction might be similar to my son’s: vanilla ice cream whipped cream sundaes and bacon sandwiches. (Not in the same bowl… separately.) Does your body love to eat like a middle-schooler? Really?

Have you ever asked your body what it likes to eat? When I ask my body, images of fresh veggies float through my imagination: warm curries, sautéed greens, asparagus roasted in olive oil, diced avocados. Then big mangoes wander by, followed by juicy peaches, tangy raspberries, and sweet blood oranges.

One of my body’s favorite treats, that it only gets to enjoy a couple times a year, is eating sun-warmed strawberries out of the field.

Nothing compares to the sweet juiciness of a perfectly ripe strawberry plucked right from its squat foliage, and popped into your mouth on the spot. At least nothing I’ve ever encountered.

Sometimes it’s hard to hear what your body wants because your mind gets into Cookie Monster mode: “I want chocolate now. Donuts now. Chocolate donuts. Now.”

Then the mind spends a lot of time strategizing about how to get its emotional fix, the oh-so-brief stress relief that a heavy dose of sugar and fat provides to the brain. But when I ask my body---my best friend---what it wants, it almost never says chocolate donuts.

In fact, it took me years to realize that my body hated donuts, and sugar in almost all its forms.

Every time I ate sugar, I would turn irritable and crabby, and need to go home to take a nap. For years I thought I hated birthday parties… halfway through the party I would think, “Party games are stupid. Birthdays are stupid. Look at all these wasteful decorations and don’t even get me started about the paper plates. Don’t my friends have anything better to do than pollute the earth with more trash?” I turned into a raving party-pooper bitch. Finally I realized if I skipped the cake or ate only one bite, I liked birthdays just fine: I could blow my party horn and enjoy stumbling through the three-legged race along with everyone else.

Your body may not react to sugar the way mine does; I certainly hope not. But how does your body respond to different foods? Do you pay attention to its reactions?

What foods help your body feel full and sated? What foods make it irritated and upset?

Check in with your body and ask it how it likes different foods. How does a vanilla milkshake feel? How does a colorful salad feel? How does a beautifully presented, lovingly prepared meal feel? How does it feel to eat fast food behind the wheel of your car?

Psychiatrist and intuition specialist Judith Orloff recommends going to the farmers market, closing your eyes, and asking your body what it needs, what it wants, what it craves. Go around to the different stands, take in the sights and smells of fresh vegetables and fruits, and invite your body to respond with a “No, thanks,” a “Yes, please,” and the occasional, “Oh yeah, baby, I need some of that!” You’re not shopping for what you think you should eat, but learning to listen to your body’s voice. Slowly you’ll develop an ear for your body’s own preferences and wisdom.

Different foods have different effects on your body. Notice what foods make you feel:




Fatigued, mentally or physically



Easeful, content

Bloated or uncomfortable



Keeping a food journal in which you write briefly about how you feel before and after meals can help you tune in carefully to what your body loves and what it complains about.

Even knowing what our body enjoys most, we sometimes eat things that disagree with it. When I do this, the tendency is to give myself a hard time… “I knew better, what was I thinking? Now I’ve ruined my day with this stomachache. Again.” Unsurprisingly this tactic is as helpful and soothing as banging my head against a concrete piling. Instead of knocking myself around, I’ve learned to apologize to my body: “Oh poor body. I’m so sorry about ignoring what you needed. I’ll remember for next time that you really hate it when I don’t stop eating when I’m full. My bad. I’ll listen more carefully from now on. We’re in this together.”

Would you purposefully give your best friend a stomachache? Never. Feed your best friend body what nourishes it, feeds it, and honors it. Learn to listen to your body’s intuition and you’ll find your body returns love and radiance to you a thousand-fold.