The body is always working to achieve homeostasis. The things is, this inner balance is not always aligned with what we expect or, in some cases, demand from our bodies.
We might have an expectation to weigh a certain amount, and to the extent that this expectation is dictated by outside forces like advertising, media and corporate sales tactics, our bodies themselves might not be on board.
It’s important to understand that this is one very profound generator of inner conflict: the images we were conditioned to accept as “beauty,” and the reality of our bodies’ needs, are often at odds.
To put it crudely, these media messages are based on a fallacy; it would be another thing entirely if the only models chosen for an advertisement of any sort were pulled off the street for a one-time modeling job, and what we got to see behind the lingerie, the watch, the whatever-product-is-being-sold was also the reality of a human life – the wrinkles around the eyes that told of the nights a mother had stayed up reading to her child, the grey hairs hard-earned through late nights at the office.
It’s impossible to not feel crazy-made when the idealized image of success on the glossy magazine – and what is takes to reach that success – are essentially at odds with each other.
In other words, if you feel crazy, you’re normal.
Back to where we started. Isabel Foxen Duke makes the absolutely spot-on point that binging is a by-product of deprivation.
A direct by-product.
If we’re missing calories, OR we are missing a certain food group that the body craves for good reason (and we are not always privy, in the moment, to what those reasons are, nor is it really our place to judge), the body will rebel and eventually fall off the wagon.
No matter how squeaky-clean or air-tight a diet theory might be, I have never seen a diet play out in an air-tight way in a real human life.
There is always the so-called falling off, the so-called cheating, the so-called binge.
Face it: it is not just you. Anyone I’ve ever known who restricts, also knows the other side.
A binge is a healthy biological response to restriction or the perception of restriction.
If we make the choice to psychologically cling to a model of what our bodies should look like that is not realistic or sustainable for the real-life body itself, we will experience a seeming short-circuitry of willpower.
If we accept, on the other hand, that the body has instincts and that behind those instincts is an unimaginably sophisticated intelligence – then we clear the doorway to be ushered into a zone of balance, or a “middle-zone.”
To quote the beloved children’s book, A Wrinkle in Time, we can find “a happy medium.”
A happy medium, ultimately, is about more than just food. It is about giving all of the facets of our lives room to breathe and express themselves. Suppose, for instance, you loved to sing, and yearned to sing, and yet somehow your culture opposed singing. Of course, singing would become your greatest desire, and the moment when you couldn’t take it anymore and belted out operatically, would be a moment of triumph.
We can all, as Humans, relate to this – because we see the pure life force expressing itself in that action, and we all root for the life force. We know is is our greatest ally and it cannot be stamped down. And yet, why don’t we have the same response when our bodies can no longer take our demands and break free, triumphantly, gathering into ourselves all the nourishment we have longed for?
A turning point comes when you learn to trust that, if all you did was sit around and eat all day, eventually, the human soul would have other needs. Its need for social interaction, movement, meaningful work and play would kick in and knock just as loudly as the urge to eat once did. Of course, if you have been restricting for a very long time, it might take awhile for that rebellious inner instinct to get its fill. It might look like a whole lot of binging, at first. And, actually, it takes courage and compassion to stay there with it, understanding that what it is doing is right and good.
This is the beginning of being able to embrace ourselves as whole human beings. Just like living in the world with others whose ways may turn us off, we can’t just throw away the parts we don’t like; ultimately, we have no choice but to have a relationship with them. And we would do well to stay open and release our prejudices, because we might find that the qualities and facets we avoided the most in others and ourselves, have the most surprising gifts for us.
Ultimately, it is a question of trust. Do we trust life? Do we stay open to its calls and whispers? Do we have a relationship with the world as a living entity, rather than a collection of matter? Do we realize that the world, and life, sees us, that we are living in an interconnected web that is continually pulsating and communicating within itself?
Sometimes, the rebellion inside of us is the clearest sign of health that we can ask for; it informs us that we are alive, that we have the intelligence to question beliefs uninvitedly bestowed upon us from the outside that are in themselves not very intelligent.
And it is a question of choice. Do we choose the free life? The life of finding what is best for us, released from the chains of what we have been told to be? Ultimately, freedom from these chains means neither giving in nor reacting. This takes time and patience as we unwind these chains from us.
And, perhaps most of all – and most beautiful of all – is that it takes self-love. Self-love is viewing ourselves with no ill will at all, no judgment, no standards to meet. It’s looking at ourselves the way we would look at a newborn baby who is so obviously innocent. It’s wanting to do everything we can to ensure its physical, emotional and psychological thriving. Wanting to do everything we can to ensure, that it remains whole.