Today the Cravings blog tour stops here, and it is a privilege to host this visit. Cravings, A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God, is the latest offering from prolific local, Catholic author, Mary DeTurris Poust. She gives us a book that is personal, provocative and moving. We who are members of God’s body have very interesting and challenging relationships with our own bodies. And we as Catholics, who gather to eat at the Lord’s Table, often struggle mightily with food.
The blog tour offers you the chance to win a copy of the book, by leaving one comment on the blog per day between now and January 20th. Not only can you win a book, your name will also be added to a drawing to win a $100 Williams Sonoma gift card.
Interviewed for the book, I did not think it appropriate for me to write a review. What I am doing to highlight a food and faith related matter in my own life, and how the book has invited me to face it in a new light. This is very personal; I have not often shared this story before. Here is a story about what I crave most of all.
The day remains unforgettable to me. It was the first day of eleventh grade, early September 1973. Remember when the start of school mean fall clothing? I was wearing what was a big fashion rage back then, a Huckapoo shirt, under a lightweight matching sweater. I remember that I loved that shirt so much, with its polyester sheen and funky colors. It fit, but was snug. Snug was something I lived with in my then slightly overweight body. Food and overeating were always a challenge to me.
Starting another school year made very anxious. At that time, anxiety meant that I would not eat in public. Note, I say in public; my private eating was another thing. But on that day, I did not eat breakfast; I did not eat lunch; no water or other liquid passed my lips all day long.
Not surprisingly, I arrived home with a monumental headache, feeling woozy, and collapsed on the sofa. My mother brought me something to drink. Milk? Maybe? Soda? Perhaps. I took a swallow and became violently ill. I must have been dehydrated and depleted from not eating, along with that bad case of first day jitters. Whatever the case, that day set me on a trajectory that I wrestle with to this day: eat or get sick.
Typically, I had no problem eating. In fact, I did too much eating. Awareness of body image and weight have been a lifelong struggle. Remember, that Huckapoo shirt was a snug! But on that day, I learned this…
Do. Not. Miss. A. Meal. Ever.
Today I know enough about nutrition and weight management, and I know that you shouldn’t miss meals. Yet, my eat-or-die self takes that to dangerous levels. After many years of gaining and losing weight, maybe it is finally time to truly and deeply change. Metanoia, anyone? And honestly – what about basic faith?
Mary DeTurris Poust’s latest work, Cravings, A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God (Ave Maria Press, 149 pp., $13.95) has made quite an impression on me as I consider the legacy of my poor food philosophy.
In full disclosure, Mary is my friend, and she interviewed me for the book. On page 40, I describe a moment of self-realization about body image while watching a movie. That’s not what I am talking about today though; I am addressing this other aspect of my life, so much in need of healing.
Cravings has been such an eye-opener for me. After reading it, I felt so aware of my “must-eat-every-meal” mentality. Eat or get sick! Ironically, my over-eating has caused me to become very ill at for different reasons. Miraculously, I do not suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other problems, but I remain very overweight.
Now perhaps it is time for honesty and clarity. It is very hard to write about this publicly, but Mary’s book opened a door for me, and I hope to walk through that door at last. Will I put my hand in Jesus’ hand, and keep going this time? Many things trigger my eating disorder. Fear, anxiety, guilt, happiness, sadness, and other feelings are not helping me, and not helping those I love. And perhaps worst of all, this “eat-or-die” thing. In my head, I know so much about this, but in my heart, will something finally change for me? Will my faith lead me beyond fear?
Cravings is a wonderful book. It is not a self-help book; Cravings is a deeply Catholic book, one that has touched me in a new and different way. We are called to faith. We are transformed in Christ. We are the body, one in Christ. How we care for that “body,” and how we approach the Lord’s table in hope and confidence, should have Jesus permeating our being, connecting us to one another, and sending us to be Light in the world. This year, I long to be transformed. Not in the manner of another failed resolution, but in the depth of my commitment to God and how I care for His Body by taking care of my body. That is what I am craving most of all.