by Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C

Getting through the days, the nights, the meals, the snack times without overeating or starving is a challenge for people with eating disorders.

Often people write or call me to say, "Yes, I keep my journal. I see my therapist. I go to 12 step meetings. I'm learning to be kind and compassionate with myself. But what can I do about the food? Please help me."

What people specifically mean by this plea varies with each individual. But they clearly express their bewilderment and anguish as they attempt to find and develop new attitudes and behaviors toward daily eating.

A long time ago the Buddhists developed a contemplative practice for eating which may be just what these callers are looking for.

Here is my edited version of the five contemplations for eating. I suggest that people with and without eating disorders print them out and read them before eating anything at any time.

These contemplations were originally written for all of us.

Five Contemplations When Taking A Meal

  1. I consider the work required in producing this food. I am grateful for its source.
  2. I evaluate my virtues and examine any spiritual defects. The ratio between my virtues and defects determine how much I shall deserve this offering.
  3. I guard my heart cautiously from faults, particularly greed.
  4. To strengthen and cure my weakening body, I consume this food as medicine.
  5. As I continue on the spiritual path I accept this offering with appreciation and gratitude.

Being fully present for ourselves, being fully aware of what we consume and being fully aware of our intention in the moment can help us develop the attitudes and behaviors we need for our well being.

These ancient contemplations may be very helpful in eating disorder recovery. What's more, they may open our awareness to other aspects of our lives which also need healing.


Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C., licensed by the State of California in 1980, is a Marriage, Family, Child Counselor (License #15563). She has a private practice in Los Angeles where she works with adult individuals and couples. She specializes in working with people with eating disorders and with people who are trying to understand and help a loved on who has an eating disorder.

Contact Information:
10573 West Pico Blvd. Suite 20
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 474-4165 phone
(310) 474-7248 fax

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