This article first appeared on drcarp.com.
The belief that food is the enemy is a false belief that a lot of us hold on to. How many times have you thought that food is the enemy when you watch cooking shows, when you see your friends out eating, when everybody around you seems to be enjoying food, and you’re trying to focus on getting healthy?
If we think about it, we know deep down it's not the enemy, but we still see it as the enemy anyway. The problem here is limiting beliefs like this dictate our health behaviors and these can be disempowering. How do we transcend that belief of food being the enemy? We may be able to rationalize it, but until we integrate it to our core, we're really not going to get to a point of understanding that allows us to overcome it.
Four Levels of Existence
As I've spoken about in my blogs and videos, we have what are called the four levels of existence: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. To help you eliminate the thinking that food is the enemy and any limiting belief in general, we’ll go through each of these four levels of existence using four thought-provoking questions written by inspirational speaker, teacher, and author Byron Katie.
In her book called Loving What Is, Byron writes four questions that allow you to go through your beliefs that are not serving you:
- Is it true?
- Can I absolutely know it is true?
- How do I react when I think that thought?
- Who would I be without the thought?
Using these four questions, we will go through thoughts that bother you, analyze each of them and understand where they’re coming from so you can set yourself free. But first let’s go through the four levels of existence.
When it comes to the thought “food is my enemy,” we have to understand that our palates have been hijacked by the magical combination of fat, sugar, and salt, which was explained really well in a book called The Pleasure Trap by Doug Lisle.
Sugar, salt, and fat found in overly processed foods and even traditional recipes have been hijacking our palate. Our ability to sense and appreciate natural flavors has really been degraded by modern ways of eating. We're so used to excess saltiness or sweetness that our palates can no longer appreciate these in healthy amounts.
When you quit sugar, especially artificially sweetened drinks, it’s like raising your thermostat on the ability of your tongue to sense sweetness. When you get rid of addictive ingredients like sugar and salt, your palate just wakes up. Fruits that tasted ordinary to you before become super delicious and junk food becomes either sickeningly sweet or too salty for your taste. This is why we need to recover our ability to appreciate natural flavors. It takes 3 weeks to recover.
On an emotional level, we are also being hijacked by foods loaded with fat, salt, and sugar because we get a release of dopamine every time we eat them. The pleasure that we feel gets hardwired into our brain and we become addicted to it and then we develop a habit of eating these foods. Choosing these foods becomes a subconscious process.
It's the same process that happens with people who are using drugs, just to a much lower extent, but we have to understand that this is causing emotional feelings of feeling good, feeling satisfied, feeling comforted and on the other hand, regret and craving when you don’t have them. These are not just rising up because of some emotional issue; they are actually coming partly because of the way the food is affecting our body.
On the intellectual level, we understand that natural foods are always going to be better for us, but the eating behaviors of people around us influence our choices. When we go out or watch cooking shows, we think to ourselves, "They're enjoying it. Why can't I enjoy it?”
This is a false thought. What’s only holding you back from poor food choices is you’ve probably gained weight or have a medical condition that you’re trying to control. When people are dealing with weight issues or diseases, it's actually the body's way of waking up and in sense trying to adapt. In some ways, though we might not want to admit it, our bodies are giving us a message, we choose to ignore these messages at our own detriment.
We can internalize the thought that we are doing things now for ourselves with the acknowledgement that with enough creativity, we are able to make foods that are just as tasty as the ones on Food Network and just as delicious as any other recipes we’ve seen. There are creative ways to do this and if you see a problem, it might just be that you don't have enough creativity or resources yet to be able to really attack that and commit to spend time to make your foods healthy and turn your back on extreme cooking shows and anyone else who are tempting you with foods that you know are unhealthy.
Welcome the idea that we are fully capable of intellectually understanding and creating food solutions that are beneficial for us. Sometimes the solution to this problem is exercising our creativity with the natural foods we have available.
On a spiritual level, we have to understand that we were put on earth for a specific reason and that we are given the resources right here on this planet to be in our healthiest state. We can be healthy by sticking as close to nature as we possibly can.
When you start believing this and putting this belief into action, you are capable of reaching a place where you have the right energy and frame of mind to be able to make better food decisions for yourself, acknowledging God in your life and acknowledging the fact that these things were created for us.
The Garden of Eden is always in effect in a way because the earth creates enough resources for us that we don't have to devitalize our food. It is there for a reason, and we as a society and as a nation are seeing fake foods destroying not just the bodies, but the emotions and the spiritual connections that people have because we haven’t realized the effects that choosing bad foods has on our overall mental state. The book “Food Genocide” by Joel Fuhrman, MD does a great job explaining the psychological effects that the wrong food choices have our our society.
The Four Questions by Byron Katie
Now that you understand the four levels of existence in the context of your belief that food is the enemy, we are going to test that belief using Byron Katie’s four questions. These questions force you to confront things about yourself that maybe you aren't ready to confront.
- Is it true?
Is it true that food is my enemy? When you're watching TV and you're seeing all this delicious food and when you see all your friends snacking on cupcakes and donuts at the office, you might be looking at food and seeing it as an enemy.
- Is it absolutely true? Are you absolutely certain that food is your enemy?
Obviously, you can’t be certain that food is the enemy, which brings us to the third question:
- How do you react?
What happens when you believe that food is the enemy? Think about that for yourself. Answer it for yourself, but I can say that when I think about that, I get a sense of hopelessness. When I believe that food is my enemy, I feel like there's no choice, there's no option, that things are stacked against me. Now you may have a different thought, but I want you to reflect on that.
- What would you be without that thought?
What would I be without the thought that food is my enemy? To me, if food is no longer my enemy, if I'm not thinking that thought, then food is something that's helpful. Food is something that can aid my health or my healing.
I am a different person without the thought that food is my enemy. I limitation that clouds my judgement has been lifted and I become a happier person.
The next step in Byron Katie's process from what I have learned from her books and videos, is to do a turnaround, which means you try to find the opposite and assess whether it is true. In this case, if it’s about the food being the enemy, you need to think of something that opposes that thought. One way to do the opposite of the statement food is my enemy is to think of food as your ally.
Ask yourself, “Can food be my ally?” We know that food can be our ally because food is often healing. As Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food." We know that food can be healing. It's just that our bodies and minds have been hijacked by some of these foods.
There's another way of turning that around. The other turnaround would be, “I am my own enemy.” That for a lot of people gets to the crux of the matter. Test your beliefs about food and health using these four questions and you’ll gain deep insights. If we are indeed our own enemy, this thought shouldn’t depress you, instead use it to gain more awareness of your situation and start making little choices that show yourself that you are in control.
I hope going through these four questions would help you overcome flawed beliefs that are affecting your health and your life. Join our growing community on Facebook to receive support and share insights with individuals who are also pursuing their best health. Have questions or suggestions in mind? Please comment below.