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How Our Ego Makes Us Fat

The Business of the Ego

I have an ego. I didn’t think I did, but I do.  Most of us don’t think of ourselves as having an ego, but it becomes apparent that most of us do as we begin to understand just what an ego is and how it acts.

It is easy for us to spot the person who we think is egotistical, but that is just one very loud way the ego manifests itself in our lives. There are many other ways that are often so quiet we don’t even know they are there. The ego has many facets and shows up in a myriad of ways. So what is an ego? It is the culmination of a collection of stories that were taught to you about you as you were growing up. These stories are who you think you are. The stories about you and how the world works were told from the perspective of someone else’s view and their view was taught to them from someone else’s view and so on. In effect, we are the projections of other people’s view of the world through their eyes and, often, their pain. This story of who you think you are is your ego, also referred to as the False Self. We weren’t born with the ego, it was learned.

How does an ego act? Like a child. Why? Because it is in childhood that we shifted from our True Self, the person we truly are, to our False Self which means we haven’t developed emotionally much beyond that point. I remember becoming aware of this many years ago when I was with a group of friends playing Pictionary. We were all in our late 20s then. Although none of us was a fantastic artist, we managed, except for Mike who was completely frustrated that no one was able to get his drawings. About twenty minutes into the game, it was Mike’s turn to draw. Again, no one could get his drawing no matter how many times he traced it over and over. You could feel his frustration building, his temper rising like a bomb about to go off – and then it did! He stood up, pushed all of the papers, pencils and the entire game off the table and stormed out of the room. Child-like. Ego.

What is the difference between the ego and the True Self? The differences are stark in a side-by-side comparison:

EGO

TRUE SELF

Judgment

Acceptance

Anger

Understanding

Resentment

Forgiveness

Selfishness

Kindness

Blame

Responsibility

War

Peace

Hate

Love

Why the Ego Makes Us Fat

The ego works in threat mode. That means when we are in our egos, which is the majority of the time, but not all of the time, we are on guard for things to judge, get angry about, resent, blame and so on. This is a lot of work and it takes a lot of energy to run that kind of a system! We get burned out as much of our energy is used for the business of the ego rather than the health of our bodies.  Additionally, with an ego that sees us and our lives as fearful and “not good enough”, we often eat based on emotional issues that are derived from this kind of thinking.

What do we eat and why does it make us fat? We eat sugar, sugar and more sugar. Sugar-filled sodas and energy drinks, flavored yogurt, breakfast cereals, ice cream, cookies, cakes, muffins, bagels, sweets, white flour, and more, all turn to fat when processed in the body. Artificial sweeteners change our delicate body chemistry and make us crave more food which also adds to our waistlines. High fructose corn syrup is processed in the liver like alcohol. This sets us up for fatty liver disease. 

Sugar is quickly assimilated into the body causing a sudden rise in glucose levels in the blood which provides an instant energy boost. In response to this, the body secretes more insulin to make the glucose levels fall. When this happens, you feel hungry and eat more food. Sugar is toxic to the body and depletes the body of a massive amount of critical vitamins and minerals required for optimal health. Add that to other foods we eat that are devoid of nutrition, full of chemicals and highly processed and our endocrine, hormonal and other major systems are completely thrown off kilter.

All of this extra sugar in our diets store as fat mainly in our abdominal area which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. In the end, the high calorie, sugary foods that we choose to feed our energy lack and our emotional issues caused mainly by the functions of the ego make us fat.

What Do We Think Comfort Foods Comfort?

Earlier this year as I was preparing to teach a workshop, I added a section on Comfort Foods. Since the workshop explains that the way we have been taught to think directly affects our health and is a major cause of our illnesses today, I wanted to clear up a little known myth that comfort foods are comforting.

I searched the internet for a photo of what I thought might be one of the unhealthiest comfort foods available on the market. I located one and added it to the presentation. The very next weekend at the workshop, as participants worked their way through a day of thought-provoking information, facts and statistics, we arrived at the topic of Comfort Foods.  When the photo I found a week earlier came up on the screen, a number of people shouted, “Chicken and waffles – yummy!” I was amazed.  Many of them knew what this was and loved it. In case you haven’t experienced chicken and waffles it is, in layers and starting at the base, a Belgian waffle, a piece of fried chicken, a mound of mashed potatoes topped with a large helping of gravy. In other words, a stack of white flour, fried food, sugar and saturated fat all rolled into one.  Any of these ingredients could be found in most all foods that we consider comfort foods.

The first question I asked was, “What does comfort food comfort?” There was a silence in the room as people began to formulate their answers.  It took a little thinking. Then one person shouted, “A break-up.” Another person added, “Feeling bad about yourself.” Then a flood of reasons came pouring out. 

ü  A tough day at work

ü  When you are sick/unwell

ü  When you are angry

ü  When you are feeling low

ü  When someone says something mean to you

ü  When you think you made a bad decision

ü  Worries you have

ü  Stress

The list was long, but there was a basic theme in all of the answers that was apparent to me. Comfort food is popular if we feel jealous, angry, belittled, unsure, wronged, worried, unhappy or unwell.  So, the real answer to the question what does comfort food comfort is, “Your ego.”

What Can We Do?

                  Be aware and then make changes.  Awareness can help you see things differently and then make choices to change what isn’t helping you or working in your favor in your life. So much of what we have been taught as children, in the context of the ego, isn’t helpful to us in our lives today. If something you think or something you do does not work in your favor, you don’t have to keep thinking it or doing it. That is easier said than done, but it is not impossible because nothing is impossible. With practice, you can take anything you want to change in your life and change it. It is time to shift back to your True Self.

                  So where to begin? As a suggestion, start with one area at a time. As you uncover and master one area, another will be waiting for you to uncover and master it. Take judgment for instance. Start to be aware of how much you judge yourself or others. This will be apparent with comparisons and negative language such as “can’t”, “never”, “won’t”. When you are using these words, check to see if you are using them in a negative way against you or someone else. If you are then a judgment isn’t far behind. When you become aware of this pattern of the ego, stop, take a breath and let it all go. The truth is that everything and everyone is already okay the way they are. There is no person, place or thing on the planet that deserves to be reacted to. 

If you need another avenue to get started, you can notice when the words “should” and “shouldn’t” are being used. The use of these words automatically points to a judgment of some sort being made.  When you become aware of the use of these words, stop using them and let go. For some reason, there is no shortage of unsolicited advice about how to live one’s life through someone else’s eyes (and pain). No one knows the true journey of another, what experiences are needed or lessons are required. When we tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do, we are saying to them that we don’t trust them to run their own lives and to grow as they need to grow. We are also saying that we want them to life by our standards. However, our standards may not suit someone else. In fact, our standards only suit us. Someone once said, “Live and let live.” Sounds like a plan.

You can also work on smiling more, making an effort to be more understanding, more patient, kinder and quieter. Replace 15 minutes of TV per week with 15 minutes of meditation or peaceful music and see how your life changes. A benefit to this is the potential for weight loss and improved health.  As a challenge, see if you can practice meditation 3 times this week. If you do that, try it again next week, but add an extra day and so on. Pretty soon you will be on your way to more peace, less ego and a smaller waistline!

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