May 9, 2015

Overeating and Spaciousness

A number of things have come together in the reflection that this post represents: a recent post by long-time internet acquaintance The Crescat, the inspiration from retreat to reread Gerald May's Addiction and Grace, and the potential side effects of a new medication.

As I have written before on this old blog, since about third grade I have had a weight problem. It has been with me to one degree or another ever since.

Recently, with the new medication I mentioned, I am trying to find a new energy to address my overeating. I have also become more and more convinced, especially since I have been here in Italy, that it is a kind of spiritual block for me.

Gerald May suggests, more or less, that the answer to addiction is contemplation. In refusing the addicted behavior, one must accept the emptiness--or 'spaciousness,' in his language--that is left. It is into this spaciousness that contemplation is born. This resonates with me; I think I learned to overeat as a strategy to fill a certain emptiness which was unbearable at the time. But now that I am adult--and even more now that God has granted me the grace of baptism--I believe the Holy Spirit wills to make this spaciousness into contemplation, if only I would try to stop filling it with food.

So I pray that the Lord bless this new inspiration he has conceived in me.

inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.
our heart is restless until it rests in you.
(St. Augustine)


Sarochka said...

Thank you for that! This post certainly speaks to me on both subjects of overeating and of contemplation. God is beginning to show me that contemplation is the cure for many things... one being acedia (sloth). Just reading 'The Noonday Devil - Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times' by Jean-Charles Nault OSB, Abbot of Saint Wandrille with a forward by Marc Cardinal Ouellet.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'm going to look it up!

Metaphysical Catholic said...

I was told that Saint John of the Cross was a great big fat guy. Mystics seem to always be depicted as rail thin. They all weren't. I want to say something that is not meant at all as a criticism, but because I'd like to see you think about this differently for a minute.

What if there's nothing wrong with you? What if you are beating on yourself (since the people who used to beat on you for it needed to be replaced when you grew up) for no fault at all?

Think about this propensity to eat and the concomitant ease with which you convert food to fat and your fairly low metabolism and realize these are all things evolution selects that would make you king of the cave during an ice age. They are GOOD things.

But we don't live in caves and need to slaughter, butcher and preserve an entire mammoth in week, or survive on our body fat through a long dark winter, anymore. So, people who have this trait, this natural and life-sustaining trait, need to find new eating strategies in modern times.

You do not need to starve yourself. You do not need to think this is something wrong with you that has to be "fixed." If any of this makes a bit of sense to you and you want, reply here and I'll give you a few links and recommendations about changes that have nothing to do with deprivation. You can damage your heart, okay? SRSLY.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

I too have grown up over weight. I was called everything but my name in school. After many years I asked God to make me like everyone else. He has answered my prayer. My highest weight was 245 pounds. Now many decades later, and the answer to my prayer, I now weigh 135 pounds. I have quit eating out, beef, chicken and turkey. Growth hormones they feed animals can, I feel, make people grow fast too. I still eat my favorite sweets but my weight stays the same. I have read that the body isn't anything it is the soul that counts.

northernhermit said...

Contemplation might be good, but direction from an experienced nutritionist might be better. The Mediterranean diet is supposed to be among the healthiest in the world, and that diet includes the foods of southern Italy. If ones needs to change their diet and eating habits to something healthier, you are in one of the the best places to do so.

Roger Bryant said...

I have a similar problem. Not the same as yours, but I'm a Type I diabetic. The next time you see your doctor, I'd ask about seeing a dietician. When I was initially diagnosed, I was told that diet will be as important as insulin. You don't have to go on any special diet. You just have to eat right.

And exercise helps, too. It doesn't have to be something big. Just walk or take the stairs....