I've surrendered to what my body really wants. And I can feel the change already. Since I began giving myself permission to eat whatever my body desires, instead of what my head tells me I should have, my relationship with food has become more peaceful. I might even say joyful.
If my body wants a piece of chocolate, I'll have it, without obsessing about how many calories it contains and how many steps it will take to burn them off. If my body wants some fries—which happens more rarely than I ever imagined when I was always on a diet and craving everything that wasn't allowed—I'll indulge in the best truffle fries money can buy. And eat as many as my body wants. Then stop.
The most loving discovery so far is that most of the time, what the body really wants is to be nourished. So here's the kind of food my body's been asking for since I quit depriving it and stopped using food as a pacifier:
Crispy whole grain toast (partially burned around the edges) with fresh almond butter melting on top. A quinoa salad with fresh basil and pine nuts. Green pea soup. Focaccia with olives and a great Bordeaux (sauvignon blanc if it's daytime). Cold slices of ripened mango. Really sweet watermelon. Thin pieces of crunchy cornbread and a bowl of crowder peas. Steel-cut oatmeal with chopped nuts, dried apricots, and cranberries. Salad greens picked from my garden with a lemon, garlic, and truffle oil dressing I make myself. Grilled fish, roasted corn, and fresh tomatoes.
I've found that eating well and being satisfied leaves no room for the junky stuff. Which is not to say that I won't eat a good salty chip or two. But I no longer have the compulsion to eat the whole bag just because I'm tired or overwhelmed.
It's a daily effort to stay connected and centered and not use food as a drug the way I have obsessively—in and out of one diet plan or another—for years. But it's also an invitation to stop the crazy, punishing behavior and do as the poet Derek Walcott offers in his poem "Love After Love": Sit and feast on your life. That, I know for sure, is the best meal ever—to partake of the soul's banquet abiding within each of us.
Read Oprah's interview with author Geneen Roth