The Skinny – Amy Brunell

Give Up Coffee???

Let’s think about our deep emotional connection to food. Food means more to many of us than nourishment. It is a friend, it doesn’t talk back, it tastes good and we actually need it. We have become intensely attached to our food. Our attachment to food is only exacerbated by too many food choices and decisions. We become overwhelmed at the amount of choices and decisions we have to make with food everyday.

In an article from the National Institute fro the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine, dated Aug 3, 2011 by Ruth Buczynski, PhD, we read, “According to the Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Brian Wansink, PhD, we make 200 different food decisions a day.”

Dr. Buczynski adds, “Think of all the food choices we have: whether or not to eat that dessert, whether to have a snack before dinner, whether to drink that small half-bottle of soda or go for the large one, whether to super-size my coffee, whether to add mayo to my sandwich.”

I have been on the Elimination Diet for 24 days. (I’m doing this restrictive diet because I received results from blood work and I have very high inflammation-which is often caused by food allergies.) I’m tell people I’m a gluten free/dairy free vegan, who can eat meat, is off sugar and can’t eat all fruits or vegetables and really only some meat-no pork or beef. There are so many restrictions, I sort of amazed I’ve done as well as I have. In some ways, it’s actually easier not to have so many choices.

Because I am so restricted, I’m observing how emotionally attached I am to certain foods. I haven’t given up coffee-that’s been the one thing I’ve held back. I am drinking a bit less for sure, but I’m not willing to remove it yet. So what am I attached to with my coffee? Why is it so important? (besides the headaches you get if you don’t have it…)

The concept of “attachment “ is the ancient Buddhist concept of how our emotional attachments to food, things, people, or the way life “should be” only causes suffering. I want my coffee. I feel like I gave up so much else-alcohol, sugar, corn, dairy, wheat, etc, that I just can’t give up everything. But that resistance interests me. I mean after all, I live in California with the best produce in the country. I’m not starving and there is plenty for me to eat. But food itself takes up so much space within my brain and my heart. Understand, I’m not judging my coffee, I’m just reflecting on how very important it is for me to have something “left for me” while on this diet. By the way, that feeling is attachment. And I can choose to remain “attached”, but having attachments to food doesn’t give me peace.

How do I know this? Because when I don’t have the thing I’m so attached to, like coffee (just the way I like it), I’m sort of agitated. I feel sort of empty. I feel alone. I feel “un-faired against” (my mother’s wonderful phrase). Because of coffee? Really? Yes. That’s what the realization of what having attachments does. It allows you to see that emotionally you are connecting to a thing, a time, place, people, etc that perhaps needs some further perspective in the hold it has in your life?

“Letting go” is a life skill of dropping the attachments to whatever overwhelms us and takes us away from our true selves. It can be a life changing concept to work with. If we are to have any mastery over food and other things that “take us away,” we have to let go of what we want in the moment and pay attention to what is needed from our bodies.

I can tell you that after 24 days, I am drinking much less coffee. It has actually been a relief not to have to choose if I’m going to eat something with sugar or not. Simpler has at times been easier. As I’m on the diet, it’s giving me a chance to feel the feelings of deprivation I so often stuff down. I get to feel my body and it’s needs more than my emotional food needs. And, I’m sort of entertaining the idea of eventually giving up coffee. No coffee? I know, wow. But I’m only entertaining the idea-I’ll tell you if I actually give it up.

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