How we eat, what we eat, why we eat it, when and where. Next to water and air (which offer,
in comparison, a bit less varietal choice), no one gets away without developing some
relationship to the act of developing self-feeding behaviors. In fact, diving into data, it seems
that out of the 7.8 billion-odd people on planet earth, the experience of being confounded by
food choice effects much of the population. Not only do we have the widely-published statistic
that nearly 10% of people on the planet have experienced some type of classifiable eating
disorder, but the data also reveals that the average adult will go on about 126 diets in their
lifetime. And, in the case these numbers aren’t quenching your inner-calculator’s grandiose
thirst, let’s present this fact in one other angle: From the onset of adulthood, the average lass
can consider she’ll undergo at least two “dieting periods” per year for the entirety of her
lifetime. It’s a statistic that feels disturbing enough to make any eater want to immediately run
for cover (for the cupboard; run for comfort food). Like many of the 45 million estimated
Americans that will go on a diet this year alone, I’ve regularly altered my diet in order to shift
my behavior with food.

The faces of eating behaviors, I know them well. One face, for example, is effortlessly
committed to her no-grain diet and the other face accidently shoves itself into a dirty dozen
donuts, in drive-through window stealth mode. Yup. One face loves microgreens and celery
sticks, totally satisfying, can’t imagine ever finding a french fry friendly-looking ever again.
Another face decides her tongue worth burning for the temporary gain of a mouthful of piping
potatoes when no one’s looking. No biggie.

Sometime in the middle of writing my book Eat Your Words, a story about the journey of our
lifelong relationship with eating, and really, say, unpacking, the whole trough of condiments I’d
kept far too long in the life-story of my inner-fridge, I was invited to look at my eating behaviors
in a new way. I began to consider that my relationship to eating was informed far less by what
foods I consumed and much more about how I was digesting life, itself.

If eating was a sort of chewable inhalation, a kind of vacuuming up, a process of taking in, then
did the art of receiving have anything to do with my eating behaviors? In these last months, I
queried within. Here’s how you might, too.

  1. Ask yourself how you define the term receiving. Can you physically tune-in to the fact
    that you are receiving now? Maybe you are feeling a gentle breeze from an open
    window, or listening to your phone notifications go ping-ping. Maybe you’re feeling
    your chemical hormones tell you you’re sleepy, or thirsty, or need to change your
    position. Start here, just by noticing what you can receive.
  2. If you are more a cerebral or visual “seer” than physical sensation “feeler”, start with
    your easiest entry point. Find a method that registers for you; allows you to take note
    that yes, you are a living being and so, yes, you are continually receiving life information.
  3. Create a kind of signal for yourself, your secret code for “dropping-in”. This literally can
    train you to register you are receiving. Maybe it’s a hand on the heart, perhaps it’s a
    wiggle of your toes and hands.
  4. Ask yourself what stories you’ve perhaps believed about receiving. Did you learn
    somewhere that to receive meant “to take”? Was it greedy or even delusional to believe
    that life was giving by nature? Does the idea of receiving bring up subtle notions of
    value and self- worth, or concerns that you aren’t giving enough?
  5. If this lands for you, regularly play with this inquiry. Return to checking in with your
    experience of receiving. You can use your custom signal.
  6. You may begin to take notice of how receiving can feel stronger in some arenas in your
    life and then shift for you in others. You may lose your awareness of receiving in specific
    transitions or in certain spaces, especially if, like me, you move from one activity
    immediately to the next, if you never sit down and pause. Notice how accessible (or
    inaccessible) the sensation of receiving is throughout your day. I’ve found that just
    noticing already does so much.

Though I still have much practice ahead of me with connection my physical body to the art of
receiving, I believe the biggest “wins” on my own eating path have come from practices like
these, from feeling the sensations of my body. And it’s been quite amazing to discover that the
more I allow myself to notice what I am receiving, I feel equally more connected to the art of
giving. It turns out that, just like breathing, like inhaling and exhaling, giving and receiving go


Isabel Chiara is an Actualization Life Coach and Author whose just-released book, Eat Your
Words, is the punchy story of a first-generation Italian American woman on a quest of self-
nourishment. Receive the first chapter free here!

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