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Dining with Desire: How Pleasure Led Me to Health

March 2nd, 2015 | no comments

dining with desire

Ever since I got my certification as a holistic health coach, I’ve noticed a funny trend among my friends and colleagues. They’re suddenly ashamed of what they’re eating in front of me.

“Don’t judge me,” ordering the juicy rib-eye.

“Hey, it’s been a long week,” scooping up a crème brulee.

“I know, I know, it’s got gluten,” biting into a deliciously overstuffed Italian sub.

I feel like a priest taking confessions.

Listen. Just because I’m into healthy living, doesn’t mean I advocate a diet of kale and cardboard. I still believe in pleasure – physical, sexual, emotional, and yes, gastronomical. Not only do I believe in pleasure, I actually think everything we do should be rooted in our desire to feel good. Pleasure is the core principle of my life and my coaching practice.

I also happen to choose, most of the time, gluten-free, dairy-free foods.

Say what?! Right now, your brain may be doing an equation: gluten-free + dairy-free = pleasure-free. But that’s not how I see it. In fact, I’ve made a pact with myself to never eat anything that doesn’t give me pleasure, and to never let guilt or rules get in the way of feeling good.

After years of health issues, I’ve finally learned to tune into what I want. I’ve explored different types of sensual experiences (pole-dancing, anyone?) and listened to my body. As I let pleasure guide me, I am free to choose what feels best for me, right now, in this moment. This means that some days, eating vegan is perfect, and other days, I get lost in the cheese aisle.

We all seek short-term pleasures on occasion: a decadent French meal, a steamy pizza, a night on the couch with a bucket of ice cream – a little time off from willpower. If I’m feeling it, I’ll dive head-first into these moments with a “hell yeah!” and zero guilt.

But I’m also drawn to long-term pleasures like stamina, confidence, and self-care. For me, choosing a salad instead of a grilled cheese is choosing premium-grade fuel instead of a self-induced food coma. Baking with rice flour instead of wheat is something my future self (and belly) will thank me for. There’s perspective in my pleasure-seeking.

When I eat gluten-free, I am nurturing myself and honoring my body’s vulnerability. When I eat dairy-free, it is because I love to feel light and open. When I eat vegan, I am stepping toward compassion. Many times, these emotional rewards are more satisfying than chocolate mousse. Other times, I just go ahead and have the mousse.

To paraphrase the fabulous Kris Carr, “Balance is a state of movement.” Pleasure is never rigid: it ebbs and flows, it yins and yangs, it dances. So I dance with it. I shimmy and shake between steak and green juice, between my body’s needs and the needs of the environment. I dance between instant gratification and a long-term happiness that comes with health.

And so I say to all my friends out there with an apple in one hand and a martini in the other: dance on! Respond to pleasure’s invitations. Do a tango with taste, a waltz with desire. Tune into your urges, nourish your needs, and sway your fork to whatever music is playing inside you that day. Let pleasure be your guide – it’ll never steer you wrong.

First posted on Wild Women

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Nadia Munla

Sensual Nourishment & Embodied Pleasure

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