Tomorrow is Election Day. And America is on life-support. Pre-packaged sound bites, just like pre-packaged foods, have diseased America. Both contribute to a tired and wounded discourse that requires an intervention of sensibility. I wonder if the over- 65 Tea Party crowd on Medicare and receiving Social Security have dementia from our government-subsidized cheap carbs or from a fast-food diet of Fox News?
While parts of America are in a food coma, other factions are on the extreme opposite end, where food choices define their identity. Yet being a judgmental vegan doesn’t make you more spiritual (oh the irony!). Eating raw isn’t a one-way ticket to dodging a cancer diagnosis, and any diet that shelves self-inquiry will negate the self-awareness you need to stay on track.
The majority of America’s mainstream institutions, nutrition industry included, are based on a patriarchal model. Rarely (or barely) factored into these information silos and reductionist views are the emotional, intuitive and inter-connected realities of nutrition and life. In Taoism, an Eastern philosophy, these domestically under-valued qualities are considered yin, or feminine. To embrace a balance of yin and yang or masculine and feminine energies is to accept paradox, not absolutes. Note: yang/masculine and yin/feminine are unrelated to gender. One is not more superior than the other, rather they are different.
Eastern philosophies don’t require faith. Rather, by observing the whole, the long-view, paradox is obvious. Sayings like “what you resist persists” and realities of “accepting your extra weight for lasting weight loss” originate here. It’s predictable, not comical, that as a country, the more fanatical and controlling we are of our food and bodies, the more our waistlines and diseases expand.
What no politician or nutrition “expert” trying to sell you on the challenges we face will admit: there aren’t clear-cut answers. You and I have to dig in on our own to find the brilliant insights that come from embracing nuance. Without ushering in the feminine to create balance, you, our country and I will be left asking the wrong questions and seeking misguided answers.
Health-care offers a prime example. The excessive-masculine approach has given us a forty-plus year war on cancer that is at a high casualty stalemate (unless you are the chemical companies who also “conveniently” make certain cancer drugs). Fighting fat and food has dramatically increased chronic disease, heart-attacks, diabetes, and auto-immune conditions. And those left standing who are restricting and depriving themselves on diets are emotionally wounded.
Embracing and valuing feminine qualities transform these ideas into more effective, pleasurable, and thus, sustainable processes. One refreshing beginning in healing the design of a self-inflicted diseased patriarchal system is the creation of an empathy chart doctors must measure for themselves at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. Studies have shown empathy from doctor’s can improve their patient’s outcomes. At Columbia University, medical students take a narrative medicine class. They learn that the patient’s story is an important part of a diagnosis. And in the book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink highlights studies that show how soothing surroundings help patients heal more quickly and with less medicine. Not only are empathy, emotion and beauty feminine qualities, but these foster a partnership relationship with the medical system. The patient and her/his body are given a voice and responsibility.
On a micro level, I experienced this eight years ago after a long fight with my body as I faced an insufficient medical system. By finally being curious and understanding my symptoms, I was able to see the interconnected physical and emotional nature of my acne, asthma, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), depression and 30 stubborn pounds. And the main contributor to my success? Food. Real Food. From whom? Mother Earth.
I’m not the exception but rather the rule with this integrated approach. Here is just a snap shot of my client’s stories with femininity as a theme in their successes. You’ll see in their stories the feminine is already there. It’s not something you have to try, buy, or earn. It’s more about losing the masculine excess.
Now, I’m not expecting this shift from Congress and definitely not from Rush Limbaugh. But, I hope you want this shift for yourself. While you can’t outspend the Koch brothers, you can start today to bring the feminine into balance in your own life. This includes men who suffer too from not having the feminine in their life. Bringing more balance benefits both sexes and political parties.
The first step is to change the metaphor in your mind around food. Stop battling food. Accept no food as absolutely good or bad. Call a truce, understanding you are dealing with all of you, not just nutritional facts.
Start with one food habit. Give yourself space; curiosity often goes further than certainty. If you know sugar makes you anxious, how do you benefit from your anxiety? Can you overeat at Thanksgiving, reveling in the pleasure of home-made traditions and avoid over-exercising the next day?
Soften your judgments. Embrace the inter-connected nature of food, emotions and life. Wonder. A special hint: you can’t storm yourself into a loving relationship with yourself overnight. This is true, not popular.
Change is beautiful and bumpy. With a feminine poise, food becomes meaningful, simple and joyful. Balance is the new radical. You aren’t the majority anymore, Limbaugh and Akin. It’s time to embody your own advice: pull yourself up by your bootstraps and adapt. Except don’t look for your boots. They’ve been replaced by TOMS shoes. With empathy, compassion and great design interwoven, walking in these shoes will begin to transform your dis-ease and symptoms of ignorance and excess anger. Plus, the exercise will help you take responsibility of your health.
For the rest of you, everyday, elect yourself. Both sides.
Did this resonate? Disagree? Let me know in the comments. I love respectful conversations.
Want to share this? Here’s a Facebook status and tweetable: How Masculine Metaphors are Sabotaging Your Weight from @AliMShapiro at http://wp.me/p2CUyj-7S
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Image Credit: Sacred Spiral.