At a New Year’s Eve party I attended there was a wonderful dark chocolate cake, freshly baked at a European bakery that morning. It was so delicious, I decided to have a second slice. Just as I was putting the cake on my plate, a friend approached me and said, “You’re having a second piece of cake!” Obviously my friend had been watching me and was shocked that I, the “nourishment consultant,” was taking another helping of sugar, wheat, and butter. “Yes,” I said, “I’m having two pieces of chocolate cake. Would you like some?”

I don’t have chocolate cake every day, because I know my body does not respond well to those ingredients. But I will have cake once or twice a year, and really relish it when I do.

In this country, our desiring nature is very well fed. Whatever you want you can pretty much give yourself at any time. I feel like a piece of chocolate. I need a cup of coffee. I would love a plate of pasta, a large plate of pasta. It’s such a hot day, I need a frozen yogurt. Day after day. We spend lifetimes feeding this desiring nature. Our wanting is an incessant internal chatter: “I need this. I want that. Let’s do this. Let’s do that.” In developing the perseverance to maintain a discipline, someone needs to be in control. But who is in control?

Instead of living in servitude to our cravings, we can nourish our bodies and spirits by limiting our choices and making purposeful decisions about food. In this way, food can help us find the internal balance and harmony we all strive for. So you see, there’s a choice. We can exist in a large field but be tethered all the time, or in a smaller meadow where we are free to roam.

From If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body and Awaken Your Spirit, © 2003 by Halé Sofia Schatz. Reprinted with permission of Hyperion.

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