Most people eat to fill a void, not because of actual hunger.
Previously, not everyone had this luxury.
The human race has experienced all kinds of food deficits.
The Great Irish Famine (1845-1852) itself killed over 1,000,000 people.
The Soviet Famine (1932-1933) killed around 4,000,000 people.
The causes of these famines are complex and include man-made and natural causes such as political maneuvers and infected crops. It’s unfair and horrible but that’s how nature and people can be sometimes.
On average, the body is capable of going 30 days without food before showing severe symptoms of starvation as long as it’s properly hydrated.
That said, we don’t need to eat that much to survive and thrive.
However, if you are eating a lot to gain weight and build muscle then that’s a different story.
What I want to address here is emotional eating.
Studs who don’t eat like emotional babies
Fitness master Jack LaLanne only ate 2 meals per day.
Victor Pride is also an advocate of eating 1-2 meals per day and he doesn’t look too bad either.
Check out Victor Pride’s book: Body of a Spartan here.
It’s a great read for those serious about body-building.
It has detailed step-by-step instructions for every exercise along with pictures.
If you follow the regiment in this book, there is no question about you getting SHREDDED.
Victor Pride also wrote it with a no BS attitude and I find it to be highly motivational.
That’s me right there.
I also personally eat around 1-2 times per day. I also usually have 1-2 small snacks per day such as dark chocolate, nuts, and/or a protein shake usually consisting of grass-fed whey protein, banana, and milk.
My diet is pretty much 90% primal 10% other.
I also typically have one cheat day every week or two where I eat whatever I want.
So I eat very clean for the most part.
This was tough to get used to at first as I was raised eating processed toxic food like most of us westerners but once you get the knack, you never go back.
A high-performance vehicle needs high-performance fuel.
Plus you feel much better mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well.
My experience with binge eating
I used to have bad impulse control.
Now I’m getting a lot better especially since I started The Spartan 365 Challenge.
It is day 96 as of this writing.
When I felt emotional pain, the tendency was to run away from it somehow.
Binge eating was a common escape.
I would stuff myself with all kinds of junk-food hoping to experience the feel-good dopamine rush that comes with sugary, fat, and salty foods. Food which by the way is scientifically designed to take advantage of our innate need for sugars, fats, and salts which used to be a lot more scarce before the advent of mass-production and food processing.
As I stuffed myself with pizza and other crap, I would experience some relief in the short-term.
The relief mostly came from the fact that the food (often coupled with binge-watching stupid shit on the internet) simply distracted me in a superficial way.
That’s all that it came down to: short-term distraction
Emotional eating has the capacity to distract you for a certain period of time. That way you forget about the pain you’re experiencing or at least you feel it less sharply. In essence, you dull your edge.
What happens next is that you realize you can’t stay in that state forever because you have responsibilities such as work, kids, etc. So you resume your life. The emotional eating served as a way to carry you through your pain without feeling it too sharply. But what is the price?
The price is that you condition yourself to live in fear.
You spend your whole life with a fear of suffering.
Your mind and body slowly fall apart as you lower your standards for nutrition, sleep, and mental/physical training. This lack of personal standards then permeates into all areas of your life including your relationships and professional life. Slowly but surely you decay into mediocrity and addiction to instant gratification. You end up living the life of a slave and you seek more and more ways to numb yourself from the truth of it all. You become a shell of what you could have been. You die spiritually. Then you die physically.
The proper way to eat
The proper way to eat is to determine what works for you.
This involves research, instinct, and experimentation.
Once you figure out what you need to do, your job is to stick to it.
Don’t get caught in the trap of endless research and no action either. That is a route to endless loops that lead you nowhere.
If you want a simple diet, here is one:
Don’t eat any processed food. Stick to whole and real foods. Foods that have no ingredients. Have one day per week where you can eat anything. Stick to 2-3 meals per day maximum. 1-2 snacks per day maximum. There you have it. A diet that if implemented would destroy a huge chunk of income for the pharmaceutical industry whose purpose is to keep you sick so that they can continue selling you the cure.
The thin line between emotional over-eating and eating for peak performance
If your goal is eating enough food to be satiated and perform at peak mental/physical levels then you must bring consciousness to the act of eating.
This means that for a period of time, avoid distracting yourself while you eat.
Don’t watch any overly-stimulating videos or read while you eat.
Simply be mindful and do your best to bring full awareness to each bite.
Don’t pick up another bite of food until you’re done chewing what you have in your mouth.
Remember to breathe in between bites.
Savor the flavor of every ingredient.
You may be surprised to feel an impulsive urge to eat with haste. You may find it frustrating to slow down.
Years of conditioning may have your nervous system jacked up to eat quickly and unconsciously. You may even feel bothered by the silence of it all. Your monkey-mind may start to get really noisy.
Embrace it and do your best.
Easy mode is to simply eat one meal a day in the above manner for three days.
Intermediate mode is to eat all your meals in silence for three days.
Hard mode is to eat all your meals in silence for a full week.
As you eat, notice at what point your body feels nourished and satiated.
You should feel pleasantly satiated but not overly-full to the point of a decrease in performance.
If you feel sleepy and mentally-foggy then chances are that you over-ate, ate the wrong foods or both.
It’s worth noting that it’s natural to feel a bit sleepy if it’s the end of the day and your meal consisted of mostly carbs.
So that’s it, simply bring awareness to the act of eating and monitor your body and mind.
Start getting an intuitive feel for when your body is satisfied and then stop eating once you’ve reached that point.
If you’re feeling emotional pain, you will notice a tendency to want to keep going.
That tendency to want to keep going is an opportunity for you to master yourself.
Acknowledge the pain that you feel.
Feel some compassion for yourself. It’s OK. It’s natural to feel pain sometimes.
Whatever pain you’re experiencing is meant to serve you if you have the awareness and will to transmute it into gifts.
Lastly, be patient with yourself.
This can be daunting at first depending on how deeply rooted your conditioning is.
But with persistence and determination, you will recondition your behavior.
In the end, you may start to truly enjoy eating instead of compulsively stuffing yourself.
You may even ditch distracted eating in favor of eating quietly for most of your meals.
Masculinity and austerity
I believe that masculinity and austerity go hand-in-hand.
Austerity – conditions characterized by severity, sternness, or asceticism.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t engage in pleasurable pursuits.
It simply means that a man should be the master of his mind rather than the slave of his impulses.
A man should be able to find fulfillment and satisfaction in simplicity for he knows that no superficial pleasure will satisfy him more than his connection to the divine and his devotion to self-mastery.
Therefore, emotional over-eating is feminine and weak.
Eating for wellbeing and performance is masculine and strong.
The exception is that at times, you can lower your standard and reward yourself but let those times be rare and done with discipline.
The proper way to live
If you are a man and you are reading this right now then chances are that you believe in living life to a higher standard.
Chances are that you believe in being strong and masculine.
Well as Jack Donovan says, “Masculinity is a muscle and muscles develop through pressure.”
In other words, true men challenge themselves and live on the edge of their comfort zones striving for constant never-ending improvement in all things (CANI).
This is the way for high-performers. This is the way of Spartan Ownership.
And guess what?
Living your life this way isn’t easy. There is a price to pay. You will face resistance. You will suffer. It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.
It is true that eventually, these new behaviors become more automatic and ingrained but it takes time and effort especially in the beginning. Getting started is usually the hardest part.
“Unadorned suffering is the bedmate of masculine growth.” – David Deida
In other words, masculine growth is optimized when a man faces his suffering without sugar-coating it.
It’s when he faces the void without reacting to or running away from it.
It’s when he uses methods of dealing with the pain that leave him in a more powerful state.
Now when I feel pain, I have several go-to activities such as journaling, reflecting, calling a friend, meditating, taking a break, relaxing, etc.
None of these activities numb me from the pain but rather they raise my energy.
Once my energy is raised and I feel relaxed again, I can see reality more clearly.
Once I see reality more clearly, I can take action in a much more resourceful way.
This may mean that I take a day off to just relax and have fun. Or it may mean that I need to toughen up and confront reality right then and there. The actions after the fact will vary but the point is that I didn’t run away from the struggle that life can be but rather I faced it with courage.
Once you take on this mindset, you will begin to undo the conditioning that keeps you in fear and learn to stand tall in the face of chaos.
P.s. Would like to make progress on your journey to self-mastery? Check out the Spartan Ownership shop here for badass products and training courses that will accelerate your growth. Also, if you would like more personalized help, book a coaching session with me here.