All the other diets from Paleo to Dr. Atkins, from low carbs to high fat, pale in comparison
There’s no question that pleasure seeking is behind much of our eating. Yes, we also experience pleasure in meaningful relationships, in learning something new, conversing with friends who “get” us and get what we’re saying, in sailing around the world if that’s one of our dreams, and generally accomplishing our goals, whether educational, financial, or otherwise. However, with its almost instant gratification, eating is probably the easiest pleasure goal to satisfy, so it becomes our go-to when we become aware of our need for happiness and satisfaction throughout the day.
Mothers, especially mothers of young children, have another incentive for sitting down and having a bite. It’s a time for them to refuel, not only with energy from the food but also with the energy of having some “down” time with themselves. If not for eating, they would almost always need to be present for someone else—which is the definition of a Giver,” but the giving works best when you spend time with yourself at intervals throughout the day.
When we eat, we have the chance to be with ourselves in a very deep way, and for some of us, this activity provides us with the very deepest way of being in touch with our inner world. Sadly, it might just be the only time we ask ourselves what we’re feeling. Perhaps that’s one reason why Jewish wisdom sources strongly recommend refraining from conversation during a meal. We know about not speaking with one another during the time when we are praying to Hashem, but when it comes to eating, we never think of it as in the same category as prayer.
But maybe it is in the same category when done with the intention of connecting inside and connecting through our inside awareness to our Creator.
Identifying those Inner Voices
Now put that train of thought to the side for a moment, and let’s consider the word “diet” as a noun– not in its general meaning as in what you consume, but as it is used when referring to a specific program of eating which has a certain desired outcome. When you read or hear an endorsement of a certain diet, as in the paleo, ketogenic, or high protein diets, a voice forces its way into the inner sanctum of your subconscious where the eating choices are made and sets up its soap box.
Keep in mind that it is only one of many other booming voices in the vicinity who are calling out their wares. One insists: “Eat that hard boiled egg for the protein!” Another one screams: “Eat the dark chocolate because the oxidants in dark chocolate are really good for you, and by the way, it’s in the cupboard on the left.” Another voice stamps her feet: “NO SUGAR!”
Another healthy looking, red-haired voice makes a cheerful, trying-to-be-helpful suggestion: “Have a crunchy carrot.” While yet another one who is a cute eight year old with pigtails in her hair, says in a squeaky voice: “I love rocky road ice cream. Can you see if the ice cream in the freezer is anywhere near as good as the rocky road you remember when you were me?” And the cacophony goes on and on with one voice after another chiming in.
So why do we listen? Why don’t we choose to eat based on what we want to eat for our health and wellbeing, as well as our pleasure?
From our earliest days on earth, we have been taught to accept demands and expectations. We have been trained to listen to the many voices out there at the expense of the wise voice inside us who is “us” in the deepest, realest way. Basically, we’ve been sabotaging ourselves ever since Adam ate the forbidden fruit in Gan Eden when he took someone else’s advice and didn’t listen to the voice from his own inner wellspring.
Diets Can Hijack Our Self-Awareness
Aside from the necessity for certain dietary guidelines based on health issues, the obsession with adherence to a specific diet is a grand distraction that can occupy our thoughts during much of our waking hours. It can hijack us away from listening to our inner voice and what it’s telling us.
The beautiful thing about that inner voice, which everyone has because we’re born with it, is that it always has our best interest in mind, while the other voices are simply salesmen seeing us as one more customer. Our inner voice has the most intimate knowledge of who we are, the bigger picture we’re engaged in painting, the delicate balance of winds and currents surging through our inner world, as well as our rich and tightly woven past. But the most outstanding quality of our inner selves is that inside us, right there in the direction of the interior, close and even bull’s eye at the center of our universe, is a place where we interface with Hashem and strive to get closer to Him.
It’s truly awesome when Hashem guides us to finding our inner landscape as soon as we express the slightest interest in doing so. We may not find it right away or we may be duped for a while into thinking that some other land with its own specific voice is ours, but in the end, Hashem will point us in the direction of our inner voice which is broadcasting 24/7 if we are planted firmly in our inner Land.
When the pleasure of inner awareness is operative, then we can pause before eating something that a voice tells us to eat and another voice tells us not to eat, and we can clarify by simply asking ourselves: Do I want this piece of pie or chocolate mousse or lamb chop?
Do I want this? How do I feel about this? How will I feel after eating this? These are questions that we are rarely taught to ask, but isn’t it a no-brainer to ask these questions before making any of our daily choices in life?
When checking in with ourselves is applied to eating, we can start making the right choices for ourselves and in the right quantities. We may just want one spoonful of that chocolate mousse, possibly two, in order to satisfy our curiosity but if we’re already full up, definitely not the whole thing. On the other hand, we may not want just one lamb chop because we really want three of them, with a side order of leafy green salad.
Years back, when I was ill with hepatitis which caused me to lose my appetite for quite a long time, one day I suddenly felt hungry. My appetite was finally restored, but I only wanted to eat parsley, something which I never particularly liked in the past. Suddenly, the parsley was the most nourishing and delicious food item I could think of. I ate bunches and bunches of it.
Parsley is a fantastic liver tonic. The hepatitis had obviously affected my liver, and I was naturally drawn to eat what would be most healing under the circumstances. My inner voice was completely in tune with my body, and Hashem ramped up the sound so that I could hear it speaking to me.
How to Eat on the Inner Diet
By now, you’re probably asking: What does all of this have to do with the Inner Diet? That’s your title, isn’t it, which means you’re going to deliver some practical diet advice (another voice to add to the cacophony)?
Sorry to disappoint you, but on the Inner Diet, you eat everything. There are no culprits, no saints, and no soap box orators. You rely on your inner voice to decide the choices placed before you. The whole diet relies on you being inside with yourself in the place where you know exactly what will still your hunger and satisfy your soul. It’s based on trust rather than fear.
It’s not about subjugating desire or flexing your willpower muscles. It’s an awareness-based diet that takes life minute by minute. There’s no going to sleep on the job of life and subjugating your will to one of those squeaky, sqwawky voices out there that are waiting to wiggle their way into your consciousness.
The best part is that there’s no swallowing guilt along with the food.
There’s only thanking, thanking, thanking, and still more thanking Hashem for his abundance that He makes available to you for your nourishment and pleasure.
You will find so much pleasure and awareness in each bite that you will be sated much earlier in the process. That translates into eating smaller quantities, because the intensity of the experience satisfies and continues to satisfy long after you have actually eaten.
You are given the freedom to eat from everything (everything kosher, of course, because non-kosher food is simply off the spectrum because if you have a Jewish soul, it can’t benefit you). On the Inner Diet, it’s less likely that you’ll be reckless and abandoned to insecurity and the greed that can follow because when listening to your inner voice, you are centered in Hashem’s light, in His breath, and the consciousness of His Greatness.
Even when you see yourself making the mistake of plowing through that plate in front of you without asking yourself how you feel, you can accept yourself as you are— so terribly and wonderfully human that you can make mistakes. And then you can proceed to get back inside and thank Hashem for creating you as this complicated and fallible human being.
The Inner Diet Makes You Inner-ly Awake
Centered in yourself, you can know when you feel satisfied, when the “enough” has been reached with the food. And the pleasure continues long afterwards from the planting of yourself at your center and the focus you have on your inner voice. In that state of mind and state of being, you know what your body feels and you know what you feel. you You know yourself, and this knowing makes it more and more possible to know G-d.
You will probably lose weight on the Inner Diet, but in case you don’t, you will still be far better off than you were before discovering the inner awareness it makes possible. You will be inner-ly awake in ways that you never were before.
The diet field is highly profitable—the diet industry is currently a 70.3 billion dollar market. The Inner Diet doesn’t yet have any books and specific supplements to purchase, workshops to join, or dietary regimen to follow.
If there are any riches to be made from the Inner Diet, the riches will be yours.