30 Days Of Meat Taught Me About Emotional And Spiritual Eating

30 Days Of Meat Taught Me About Emotional And Spiritual Eating

Emotional eating is actually a very good thing.

ChelseaC
ChelseaC
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I wrote about my experience with the Carnivore diet here—two and a half weeks of only beef, and then the remainder of the thirty days on just meat.

The Carnivore diet has a myriad of reputed health benefits and definite physical benefits (it's the easiest way in my experience to lose weight), but what I found most fascinating was how it illuminated my emotional and spiritual relationship with food.

I've heard all my life (from family, friends, articles, memes) that emotional eating is a thing. But I've only heard it mentioned in a negative way—eating away my feelings is bad, dealing with a breakup by gaining 10lbs of Ben & Jerry's is understandable but bad, snacking because I'm bored is bad.

Let me tell you, I was not motivated to eat in response to any emotion on the Carnivore diet. When you can only eat unseasoned meat, it does not taste good enough to eat as comfort OR as celebration. During this time I dealt with normal school stress, financial stress, and personal stress for weeks, and became acutely aware that I would have turned to food for comfort, stress relief, distraction, happiness, and more.

Rather than seeing this emotional eating as a bad thing, I actually began seeing it as a very, very good thing. Life is stressful and difficult and sometimes just plain bad. Why would it be a bad thing to find comfort, distraction, and even joy in something I already need to do?* It seems, actually, a great blessing that I can find such happiness in a part of my inevitable daily routine.

*Of course, like all things, emotional eating can be extreme. If I eat an entire cake every time I'm sad, that's a different matter. But if I eat well overall, and eat unhealthy things with moderation, that's a sustainable balance. And you will never know the joy that blueberries and kale can bring you until you only eat meat for 30 days.

This element of food bringing joy—be it enjoying slices of fresh mango, fresh cheese on toasted bread, or homemade kettle corn—leads us into the spiritual and communal aspect of food.


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Sharing in food is a highly communal—almost primal—part of our ancestry: sharing our resources was integral to our very survival. Sharing food is incredibly intimate and is one of the most bonding things we can do in a social setting. If you've ever gone out to eat with friends and not been able to eat the foods they're eating (because of a diet, intolerances, or even just not being hungry), you will have felt the impact of not participating in this social bond. Even if we're not hungry, if all our friends are eating, we feel this strong urge to be a part of the group too—to eat something. And those around us also feel this pressure—think of how often people have offered you food, especially if you weren't already eating something, even to the point of pressuring you to eat.

Food strengthens (or weakens) our bodies, it strengthens our social bonding, and it nourishes our soul. Food can be incredibly powerful—the right food at the right time can bring happiness to even the most broken of hearts. Every single one of our ancestors spent time preparing food; and doing so ourselves makes us more mindful of our health, taking care of our bodies, and honoring an age-old routine of the process of making and enjoying food.

Realizing the joy that the presence of food brings to my life--and the utter emptiness I experienced without it--opened my eyes to food's presence in my life in both an emotional and spiritual way. There was nothing that could compensate for the thrice+ daily habit of enjoying delicious food or snacks; there was no substitute for sharing food and mealtimes with other people. Even when I was present during mealtimes, I wasn't able to share the same food the others were eating. There was simply no substitute for everyone eating together.

We can't live without food, and it's incredibly beautiful that an unavoidable part of our day—a thing we literally can't live without—is a thing that can bring us such joy, comfort, happiness, companionship, routine, consistency, health, and community. We're caring for ourselves when we eat good food, and our bodies get that. And even when we eat ice cream and cookies, we're enjoying delicious tastes and textures that bring us happiness—even if they may add to our waistline.

I was the most fit I'd ever been on the Carnivore diet—and the most food-relatedly unhappy. I love food. Before the Carnivore diet, if you had mentioned emotional eating to me, I would have thought you were speaking of a negative thing. Now, when I think of emotional eating, I think of how food pairs so well with so many different emotions of the human experience--and how absolutely wonderful that is. Being able to go out with friends and enjoy amazing cheeses and tea and salads and ice cream makes me incredibly grateful for the powerful social bonding experience of breaking bread with others and even just breaking it with myself. Are you sad? Lonely? Wanting to celebrate? There's a food for all of that. Feeling any strong feelings—with other people or by yourself? There's a food for that too.

in the words of J. R. R. Tolkien: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

The Carnivore diet removed almost all pleasure from food and distilled it down to just physical nourishment. After 30 days of self-exclusion from one of the most ancient, beautiful, and powerful rituals (both social and solo) known to man, I wouldn't trade food for anything--including hoarded gold.


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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Buying New Clothes Every Month Has Been The Key To Helping Me Become Happy With My Body Again

Loving my body in new outfits has boosted my self image so much.

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Being body-positive has been really hard for me to do throughout 2019, despite there being an overwhelming surge in body-positivity around me, whether through my friends and family or YouTube. I look in the mirror and what I see is someone I want to make a jean size or two smaller like in the past. That being said, I've slowly been coming around to accepting the body I have now, instead of bashing it constantly. A key way I've come to accept the body I'm in now is through buying myself something new every month, like a new T-shirt or a pair of jeans or sneakers that help me see myself in a positive light. When I'm in a new outfit, I feel invincible. I don't think about how pudgy my stomach is, or about the hair I have growing in random places, like my neck or on my nose (yes, not just in, but ON too).

My bank account tends to suffer as of recently because of this, but it's worth it when I can genuinely feel good in what I am wearing every day. I like to wake up and think about how many outfits I can put together, ready to post my #OOTD for Snapchat without caring what anyone thinks. I've let social media dictate how I feel about myself more than I care to admit. I see how perfect all the models are in everything they're wearing from brands I know and love, yet when I try the same thing on, it's a whole different ugly story.

I don't enjoy trying things on to avoid the shame I feel when things don't fit me right, or if something that I thought would flatter me actually makes me look like a sack of potatoes. Instagram has really hurt my body image a lot — enough to make me delete it for a week after one post sent me spiraling. Going through those bumps made me finally realize it's not my fault if something doesn't fit. Sizes range depending on the item, it's the clothing items fault, not mine. Now that I see that, it's easier to brush off something not fitting me as it should. I know my size very well in the stores I frequent the most, so it's easier for me to pick out things I know will look good and not have to worry about the sizing issue.

Buying yourself something new is not something you should limit to every few months or longer. You shouldn't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone price wise every once and a while either. Coupons exist, stories always offer you them when you first sign up to receive emails and even texts. You can be crafty and still get a high price item for less. If you treat yourself to cheap things, you won't feel half as good as you want to. Granted, sticking to a limit is important but there's no shame in going over the limit every once and a while.

I love shopping as much as I love country music and writing short stories — a lot. Yes, I get yelled at almost every time I get something new. I need to save my money for important things, like for my sorority or for medical issues that could suddenly arise, or for utilities at my house next year off campus.

However, my mental well-being is not something I can ignore.

I can't push the good feelings aside to save 30 or 40 bucks a month. I don't want to feel as low as I've felt about myself anymore. I'm tired of feeling sad or angry at who I am, and I want to learn how to accept myself as I am. Buying myself something new, like clothes, is what offers a positive light to view myself under.

Whether you treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, or to face masks, or to a new movie when it comes out — don't be afraid to do it. Put yourself first and you'll realize your worth and how much you've been ignoring it in the face of poor confidence.

My confidence isn't back up to where it used to be, but it's getting there.

It may not be the most cash efficient method of self-love, but my body positivity is better than it was a few months ago. Aerie and American Eagle have really helped me become happier with my body, and I can't thank them enough for being more inclusive for people like me who are learning to love themselves again in a new body.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us hoping to promote our own body positivity, and it could all start with a simple purchase from your favorite store after you read this.

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