1. One of this book's main themes is that there are many forms of hunger, and that we need various forms of "nourishment" for those hungers. When we are hungry for mental stimulation, maybe we need a good book rather than a candy bar. When we are hungry for companionship, perhaps we can call a friend instead of reaching for our friends, Ben and Jerry. When we hunger for physical movement, maybe we could take a walk instead of chewing the contents of the entire bag of popcorn. When we confuse physical hunger with non-physical hungers, we can miss true nourishment. What are your hungers? Talk about what you hunger for. What do you care about? What do you really want? How do you meet (or not meet) those hungers?
2. Another theme of the book is "getting real." What does that mean to you? I start the introduction with a quote from The Velveteen Rabbit. The wise old Skin Horse tells the rabbit that "real isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you," and that sometimes it hurts and that it doesn't happen all at once. "You become," he says. What is REAL to you? In food? In life? In the way you talk and share your truths? In what you bring into the world? Are you in alignment with what is real for you? If not, how would you get real?
3. How do you know what is enough in your life? Enough rest? Enough activity? Enough food? Enough TV? Enough purchasing? When we investigate our relationship to "enough," we can see how our enoughness or perceived lack of enoughness in any moment affects our food choices. What is enough for you? How can you tell?
4. The book makes the assumption that we have all had moments of knowing our own brilliance, of feeling our own inner spark, of seeing our own wholeness. As human beings, we tend to forget our innate goodness. Talk about times when you knew you were "full." Childbirth? Riding a bike for the first time? Graduation day? Walking in nature last week? Then talk about how you find your way back to that knowing of your ok-ness, your enoughness, after moments of forgetting.
5. What is your relationship to food? Do you love it? Hate it? Are you a gourmand? A gourmet? Do you "use" food to manage moods? Do you stress eat? Or stress not-eat? Do you love the taste of food or only eat because it's fuel? Do you have food fears or aversions? It's good to check in with yourself every now and then as you read along in the book to see if how you feel changes, releases or gets more entrenched. Stay in tune with how your relationship to food evolves, if it does.
6. What is your relationship to the process of eating? Do you eat at the table? Walking around the grocery store? In the car? On the run? Do you "grab a quick bite?" Do you see eating as an unpleasant necessity or a pleasure? Do you stuff your face or feed yourself with care? Do you sneak eat? Never eat with others? Always eat alone or NEVER eat alone? Simply notice. None of this is intended to raise judgments, only awareness. Again, note if any of your patterns change as you work through the book.
7. Let's say you decide to change your patterns with food and eating. What do you see as obstacles in the way of true nourishment? Many seeming blocks are internal: the rebel in us; the two-year-old tantrumer who wants what s/he wants when s/he wants it. Some hurdles are external: partners who don't eat the way we want to; the limits of the cafeteria at work. What would get in the way of your making the changes you want to make? How might you meet those challenges? Let's assume it's all workable.
8. This book invites us to stay awake to what is happening in the realm of self-nourishment, to watch where we go numb, to be aware of those places we go on automatic pilot, to notice how we abandon ourselves to old habits. It's simple in some ways and definitely not easy. Where do you go numb? When do you want to say "oh, what the heck?" How does "automatic pilot" show up in your life and in your relationship to nourishment?
9. What happens for you after you "fall off the wagon?" How do you return to treating yourself well? What does your self-talk sound like? How do you greet this new moment?
10. Where do you go, where can you go, for peace, stillness, quiet? A corner of a closet? A walk in the garden? The beach? The book welcomes us into a daily practice of finding our hearts, because the heart has great wisdom, compassion and can help us heal. For most of us this heartfulness needs to be cultivated (you might have noticed harsh inner voices in some of your answers). How will you start to develop (or expand) your practice of self-nurturing? Of self-nourishment? What are your first steps? Can you start them now?
Susan Lebel Young MSED, MSC, author of Lessons From A Golfer: A Daughter's Story of Opening the Heart, is a perfect guide on your journey toward heartfulness in your food and life. Young is a self-professed junk food junkie who has maintained a fifty pound weight loss and a change of food-frenzy mentality for thirty years using these food fix antidotes. Young, a retired psychotherapist, teaches mindfulness, yoga and meditation.