by Golda Poretsky, HHC
Lillian “Diamond Lil” Russell is truly a source of inspiration and fatspiration. Back in the 1890’s and early 1900’s, Lillian Russell was uber-famous. She was a celebrated and beloved singer and actress, and a major sex symbol, and the fact that she was known for weighing over 200 pounds did not diminish her appeal.
Diamond Lil wasn’t just gorgeous and talented. She was also really socially progressive. She was a feminist who fought for women’s suffrage, she was married four times (often seeking a divorce when she felt the relationship was over), and for nearly forty years (often while married), she was also the lover of man named Diamond Jim.
Diamond Jim was known for his prodigious appetite. Just to give you an idea, a typical breakfast for him was supposed to consist of eggs, pancakes, pork chops, cornbread, fried potatoes, hominy, muffins, and a beefsteak. For refreshment, a gallon of orange juice—or “golden nectar,” as he called it.
Lil and Jim would often have elaborate parties with lots of delicious food. And both of them were known to eat with gusto, with pleasure. Lillian was one of the few women that Jim had ever met who really enjoyed food as much as he did, and her love for food and her pleasure in eating was actually considered part of her appeal, not just for Jim but also for Lil’s adoring fans.
In other words, Lillian’s enjoyment of her food was really sexy.
But the truth is, the way Diamond Lil enjoyed her food was actually really good for her, too. The more you enjoy food, the more you savor food, the more your body recognizes that it’s eating, and the more your body can recognize that it’s being nourished, so that your mental hunger and physical hunger can be more aligned.
This is the science of how your awareness and enjoyment while eating aid digestion, assimilation, and metabolism when you eat. Scientists have determined that 30-40% of your ability to digest and assimilate food actually happens because of “cephalic phase digestive response” or CPDR. “Cephalic” just means of the head. So CPDR is just a scientific term for the way you use the senses located in your head when you eat. That is, the enjoyment and satisfaction that you get when you see, smell, and taste your food.
If 30-40% of digestion happens as a result of this CPDR, then what happens when we sidetrack it? What happens when our awareness is on the television and we miss the visual enjoyment of our food? What happens when we eat quickly and barely take a moment to enjoy the smell or taste of our food? What happens when our mind is focused on calories, fat, points, guilt over what we’re eating, shame over what we’re eating?
You guessed it. We miss the CPDR, we miss the pleasure, and our mind doesn’t really understand that we’ve eaten. So we eat more and more, and feel full if we check in with our stomachs, even when our brain is saying it’s still hungry.
When you eat with pleasure, you feel satisfied. You feel nourished. Your body and mind feel taken care of. And when you feel this pleasure and satisfaction, it’s an invitation to anyone that you’re eating with to enjoy their food too.
So this Valentine’s Day, remember that enjoying your food is sexy and good for you! Just eat like Diamond Lil!
By the way, if you want help with healing from disordered eating, my new class starts in just a few weeks! Click here to check it out.
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.
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