What’s on your plate?

Last year, during my internship, I was co-leading an eating concerns support group. The group had decided they wanted to do some sculpting as part of an attempt to “externalize” their disordered eating. (For more information on externalizing problems, see research by Keeling and Bermudez, 2006.) I made my own sculpture and, without putting much thought into it, found myself making a round plate with three amorphous blobs of clay piled on top of it. I went home with the sculpture, wondering what it meant to me. I finally had my “eureka” moment yesterday…

Yesterday I woke up thinking about the correlation between the times in my life when I’ve had a metaphorically full plate and the times when I’ve had a literally full plate. At least for me, and I suspect for others who have struggled with binge-eating, when I had a lot going on in my life (a “full plate” so-to-speak), I coped with the inevitable stress of that busyness by eating…piling my plate high at picnics, ordering a big meal at a restaurant, or sitting in front of the TV with bags of not-so-nutritious snack foods. It was almost as if by eating everything in sight, I was mentally willing myself to plow through the chores, tasks, and job responsibilities of my crazy life. By being a part of the “clean plate club”, I could maybe be part of the “clean life club” (something I unconsciously desired).

Now that I have some distance from the cycle of bingeing, dieting, and self-loathing, I recognize what was really going on every time I tried to clear my full plate: my body was acting out a version of what my spirit needed…less clutter, less chaos, fewer things to attend to. Knowing that now, I realize that I’m at risk every time I allow myself to get swept up in busyness, forget how to say “no”, and fill my calendar to the max. Those are the times that I have to cut back on life (thereby doing some much needed self-care) in order to avoid overfilling my dinner plate. I suddenly realize that my full plate sculpture was my misguided inner voice…the one that told me that having a full plate of food and eating it all would help me through the busyness of my daily life.

Your metaphorical plate might look different than mine. What might be the correlation between your life’s busyness (or slowness) and what you’re eating today? Take a moment to consider what’s on your plate. Are you seeking physical nourishment or spiritual nourishment?

Peace, joy, and health!



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