As I move through Lent, I have tried to limit myself to 1000 calories each day. Noting calories makes me acutely aware of the number of calories in foods, and I have become cautious when it comes to eating. I eat about five-six small portions of food spread throughout the day. As the weeks go by, I realize that I want more food. I am no longer satisfied with the 100-200 calorie meals. Admittedly, there were a couple of days that I ate too many calories in one meal. And I felt it. It was too much food all at once after being used to eating in small doses.
I prefer the small doses. I feel more alert and oddly stronger. When I ate the higher calorie meal, I felt weighted and sluggish and uncomfortable. The strange thing is that I didn’t learn the first time that I did it because I did it a second time and felt just as sluggish and uncomfortable. I know this says something about my self-disciplinary habits, but for this post, I am thinking in a different direction.
Here it is. I notice that eating fewer calories each time that I eat has trained me to notice what I am eating and how much of it that I am eating. My body and mind are being trained to pay attention to what is satisfying and what is enough. I have become aware of what it takes to satisfy my hunger. The less I eat, the less that is needed to satisfy me. Rather paradoxical.
Before this Lenten exercise of eating about 1000 calories a day, I would eat wantonly. Whatever I wanted to eat, I ate. Whenever I wanted to eat, I ate. And as much as I wanted to eat, I ate. I was somewhat aware of my eating habits, but they were of no concern to me. I now realize that having so much food available had the effect of numbing my sense of what is satisfying and of what is enough.
So what is the spiritual application here? For me, I like the idea of being satisfied with less. And I like the idea of being consciously aware of making those lesser choices for the purpose of being satisfied. This speaks of simplicity. There is a longing that desires a simpler life, but the fatness of life diminishes my awareness and numbs my sense of what it takes to be satisfied.
I like learning that choosing less is a path to satisfaction and fullness.