How My Version of Eat Pray Love Changed My Life

eat-pray-love

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Eat Pray Love details the journey that Elizabeth Gilbert took to discover just exactly who she was. For as long as she could remember, her life had become melded with those of the men she shared her life with. Somewhere along the way she lost track of who she really was and decided to embark on a mission to reclaim her life.

Whereas I don’t think I had quite lost myself to the depths that Elizabeth Gilbert had when my first husband asked for a divorce I was thrown into a tailspin. I had never had a long period of time without a boyfriend when a relationship ended, it was usually me who was doing it. To have been dumped in such a fashion was a huge wake-up call.

I was a miserable person and therefore made the people around me miserable. Suddenly I had to spend a lot of time with myself and it gave me pause to reflect on what my life had become. At first, I can’t say I was thrilled to have the time, but gradually I really relished the alone time as I discovered, or re-discovered who I was, what I liked and why I was so unhappy.

I began to travel. Alone. I was lucky enough to be working in a position that afforded me a lot of business trips. I started extending them and exploring Europe and Asia. And what I discovered was the passion that many cultures had for food. Eating was not just a utility, an exercise to get you from Point A to Point B, but rather an experience.

I brought the experiences home with me. Gone were the microwave dinners eaten in five minutes over the sink. I started buying cheeses and wines and gourmet food products. I started setting myself a spot on the bar and enjoying either a meal I made or one that I had carefully selected. I stopped eating fast food and starting thinking about my meals and enjoying the tastes and textures and pleasure.

I enjoyed life and I became happier. I decided that if I could change my life with food, I could change other parts of my life as well. I decided to be happier. Consciously making the decisions to be happy opened myself up to the Universe and let good things come to me. And I have not ever looked back.

If I ever found myself in the position of being alone again I would travel to where people embrace life, celebrate it. Through food, through wine, through everything in life and I know that I would be okay. When I read Eat Pray Love I was reminded of that, it was something I had not thought about in many years. I am thankful that Elizabeth Gilbert shared her experience in a way that teaches other women that they can rediscover themselves as well.

What would your version of “Eat” be?

38 Comments

  1. The Napkin Dad
    May 20, 2010

    Eating is need directed towards the consumable for the purpose of satisfaction.

  2. Tammi Kibler
    May 20, 2010

    Living with teenage boys I am very frustrated with the current state of “Eat” in my life. Too much junk and fast food, not enough meals with true taste.

    Perhaps I am unfair to blame the boys, but I resent my efforts to cook and clean only to have them choose to get McDonald’s instead. So I choose the path of least resistance most often.

    I need to find a healthier frame of mind for this aspect of my life.

    1. Andi
      May 20, 2010

      @Tammi, I think when you have kids, especially older ones it is difficult to cook for them. In my pre-teen and teen years I would taken McDonald’s a thousands times over whatever my mom cooked, but as I got older and went off to college I really started appreciating food A LOT more. So if there is any hope, in a few years you may find that you will be back to enjoying food much more! I always tell my husband that no matter what, even at a fast food restaurant you can find healthy choices, so much more than 15-20 years ago on the same fast food menus.

  3. Siddhartha
    May 20, 2010

    Ah, the beauty of food. I have had so many great meals, they are like a series of lovers who have pleased me in totally different yet equally satisfying ways. Each one appealed to a different aspect of my personality, each one left me thinking she was the very best ever.

    I am no snob when it comes to food as a great hamburger can be as satisfying as a fine French dinner. In fact one of the best burgers I’ve ever had was at Jolie Maison Brasserie de Luxe. It was a hamburger topped with foie gras and it absolutely made me shiver with delight.

    Speaking of burgers the Clarke Cooke House in Newport, RI has an amazing specialty called the Candy Store Burger. It’s stuffed with Roquefort, topped with bacon and served on an English muffin. I don’t even like blue cheese and I thought I would die of ecstasy.

    And I could go on and on.

    Last year however, I tried an experiment which allowed me to experience the pleasures of food even more. Is that possible? Yes.

    I fasted for 24 hours every other day. So one day I could eat, the next day nothing but water, the next day anything. What I found was, food tastes so much better when you haven’t eaten for a whole day. That’s not a surprising result, but I guarantee you, much like intercourse, it’s way more satisfying to actually do it than it is to intellectually understand it.

    My second finding was surprising, at least it wasn’t something I’d predicted in advance. The aim was not to lose weight so on the days I was eating I could basically eat two day’s worth of food but I just couldn’t fit it all in.

    What ended up happening was I began to see my capacity to eat as a limited quantity that had to be used judiciously. Prior to this I would eat some pretty gross stuff just because I was hungry but while I was doing alternate day fasting I wanted to wait until I could get some really good tasting food. After all, it was going to be another day before I could eat again and I didn’t want to waste precious stomach space on food that didn’t taste good.

    It made me really appreciate the flavor of what I was eating and relish every bite.

    1. Andi
      May 20, 2010

      @Siddhartha, I absolutely love the analogy of meals as a lover, and it is so true. Some food experiences can be incredibly sensual. I am not a snob when it comes to food, love burgers as well, I just prefer organic and healthier over the over-processed. When I am dieting I find that I make wiser decisions on my food choices than when I am not paying attention, so I actually enjoy food more, much the same as the fasting description you mentioned, I totally get that.

  4. Kathryn
    May 20, 2010

    I can’t talk about eating without talking about cooking. Some of my favorite times have been cooking delicious meals for friends and people I love.

    My daughter says you can always tell the secret ingredient – love.

    1. Andi
      May 20, 2010

      @Kathryn, you are ABSOLUTELY right…on both counts!

  5. Lyn
    May 20, 2010

    I LOVED Eat, Pray, Love! I feel like Elizabeth Gilbert is a soul-mate of mine. I kind of had a similar experience years before her book came out. Right after I graduated with my master’s degree, I had a kind-of mid-life crisis. (Even though I was only 24.) I had broken up with the person I thought I would marry, then had a rebound relationship which ended in disaster, and ended up in the hospital with a panic attack. (I really thought I was having a heart attack at the time.) Anyway, my emotions totally shut down after this and I felt absolutely nothing. Scary! Anyway, the only thing that made me feel vaguely positive was the thought of running away to Ireland. So this is what I did!

    I got a work-exchange permit and ran away to a small town in Ireland called Killarney. I worked for less than minimum wage in a coffee shop. It was the best thing for me ever! I really got to knwo the whole town and still stay in contact with some friends from there. (In fact, I’m going to visit this summer!) I stayed there for 8 months, then moved to London where I substitute-taught in North London schools. This is where I met my current husband.

    This just goes to show that you need to do what is right for you. My mother had a screaming fit when I told her I was running away to Ireland and told me I would never get a real job, be poor and lonely, etc, etc. Sometimes, you gotta defy convention. You’ll be better (and happier) for it!

    1. Andi
      May 20, 2010

      @Lyn, thanks for sharing your experience, isn’t it comforting to know that you did what you felt was right and you came out on the other side stronger for it!

  6. Sabrina
    May 20, 2010

    I attempt to try at least on new recipe a week. I cant do much financially, but I can manage to make a new meal so that me and my daughter can try, and so far, so good. If I had the funds, I would eat out once a week, I love to eat, but must be done in moderation.

    1. Andi
      May 20, 2010

      @Sabrina, even though you are financially-challenged it is still fabulous that you try new things and explore. Sometimes you don’t have to leave your kitchen to bring the foods of the world to you!

  7. Vicki Archer
    May 20, 2010

    Great version Andi…I enjoyed reading this post very much, xv.

    1. Andi
      May 20, 2010

      @Vicki, thanks! You must have some great EAT contributions yourself!

  8. Joanne
    May 20, 2010

    My mother only had one hard and fast unbreakable rule when I was growing up in a little seashore town in New Jersey, Everyone must be home for dinner. I didn’t understand it but quickly learned to brag about it to my friends because that was the age of the TV tray in front of the tube. My 4 sisters, my mom and dad all sat at a table in the dining room to eat and talk about our days and what life was doing to or for us. My mom got to connect with each of us, we had to slow down for a while and we learned to communicate.
    When I got married and had my three children even though I was a working mom we carried on the tradition, my mom worked all my life and she could do it so could I. When my first husband left me those evening meals were a God send. The kids had something normal they could hold onto. Some time every day that they had my attention.
    Now my children are grown and still, every Sunday my kids, their spouses, friends and extended family all gather around the 9′ table I have in a dining room which used to be the living room. I didn’t need a living room I needed more table space. typically I have 14-19 people at dinner. My husband and I start cooking around 2, people arrive by 6 and we all connect again to end a week and start a new one supporting each other, cheering accomplishments and helping to lick wounds. we always end with warm chocolate chip cookies. My husband didn’t make them one Sunday and I thought these grown kids were going to cry.

    1. Andi
      May 20, 2010

      @Joanne, I grew up in a family that ate at the table very night and I am very thankful for that experience. And even though it is just me and my husband we do the same, I NEVER eat in front of the TV!

  9. Jamie
    May 20, 2010

    I have an obsession with Eat… food was brought into my world full force at a very young age. First, it was a HATE relationship. I didn’t want to eat, looking back I think it was my attempt at having some sort of control in my life that was at the whim of some very unkind adults. Instead of discovering (as we would these days) why I refused to eat, I was force fed, literally by well meaning grandparents and uncles. My dinner plate was placed in the fridge and fed to me cold for breakfast and excess ketchup on my plate was to be eaten with a spoon.

    All the pressure to eat continue as I began to eat limited foods but still refused items like gravy… Grandma gave me a terrible time about gravy and finally coerced me into trying it. Needless to say, there began an obsessive love affair with high fat gravies and sauces.

    We ate because we were sad, we ate because we were happy, we ate because it was a holiday or because it was midnight. Food became my life.

    As an adult, I became a social eater… gorging anytime I was with friends or family, because that’s what we did… that also carried over into eating things I didn’t want or that weren’t good (my first failed attempt at hard as a rock sourdough bread) as punishment.

    Now, at 32 I’m finally coming to terms with what food is to me and my life… I’m finally getting a handle on why I eat and choosing to no longer allow food to run my life.

    I’m reevaluating and learning to see food as fuel (delicious fuel) instead of punishment or reward. I’m learning to be social without constant munching.

    It’s going to be a long road… heck, it’s taken 32 years to get where I am… it’ll likely take twice that to undo.

    1. Andi
      May 20, 2010

      @Jamie, I went through kind of the same journey, slightly altered. My sister was the one that refused to eat and would sit at the dinner table for hours. I ate, but grew up in a household with a lot of junk food and a lot of fast food. When I left home and started living on my own I made bad food choices and then also gorged in social situations and between boyfriends. I gained a lot of weight which only made me more unhappy and finally came to grips with food in my late twenties/early thirties as well. But you know what? Better late than never and living a healthy life now with smart food choices will go a long way!

  10. Heather
    May 20, 2010

    ” Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”… I think Hippocrates said this…love this post.

    1. Andi
      May 20, 2010

      @Heather, perfectly said!

  11. Oydis Ulrikke
    May 20, 2010

    This is my version of eat: http://oydiscastberg.blogspot.com/2009/05/det-lukter-muffins.html

    I love cooking with my kids, and they really enjoy it too! Note to self: Find time and patience to do more of it, also in the week days.

    1. Andi
      May 21, 2010

      @Oydis, those look yummy and 100% made with love, your daughter is adorable!

  12. I so enjoyed the book Eat, Pray, Love and Elizabeth Gilbert’s follow-up Committed is an insightful and informative read, too.

    I loved reading yours and the others’ stories about “Eat.” I am going to pop over to the other blogs to have a look, too, because this is such a wonderful topic, and not because I want the books (have ’em both already — someone who does not should be the recipient!).

    I have a lot of difficulty with “Eat” these days due to multiple food intolerances. This is a pretty horrific thing in a place like Paris, where the emphasis is on foods with wheat and dairy, both of which make me sick. It is this heartache that I try to handle by writing on my blog about it.

    What I hate the most about having problems with food is that I used to be the most adventurous eater, ever! I lived in China. I tried the sea slug, turtle soup, the little fried baby birds, and yes, even dog. I traveled to Mexico and ate molé prepared at the home of a simple family in Puebla. I have eaten fish that was still wriggling on the plate in Japan.

    I made Anthony Bourdain look like a wimp.

    Now that I have to be aware of every ingredient in foods that are not prepared by myself, or suffer serious consequences, I have turned into a cowering, beaten eater.

    Maybe it is some kind of karmic payback for being such a diner full of hubris in my younger years. Maybe it is that I ate too many Twinkies with impunity, laughing in the face of the food gods: “Here, watch me eat THIS!”

    I don’t know. I just know that these days, thinking about food more often makes me sad than happy.

    I hope I can get to the heart of what this means for my growth as a person, to spin this into kind of the “Pray” and “Love” portions of what Gilbert’s book is about. I can’t believe that this problem exists in my life for no reason whatsoever. I hope that I can eventually find the meaning in it all and be able to approach the situation with more gratitude and love in the future.

    But I am not there, yet.

    1. Andi
      May 21, 2010

      @Karin, I sympathize with you, last year a met someone who developed food allergies to practically everything after she had kids at 25, she said the toughest part is that she remembered what pizza tastes like, what chocolate tastes like, but to eat them could nearly kill her. Your food adventures sound funny, I did many the same, you can still be adventures without wheat, etc, but I know it must be so hard in Paris. They are not used to servicing people who have special needs, so it must be tough. I think you are on the path to find peace with food, just because you are so enlightened and aware of it!

  13. Maureen
    May 21, 2010

    Food and I have had a wild relationship. When I was younger I remember eating only what I loved. As I got older I ate only because it was necessary to speed through life. Then I honored food for what I could give to my children.
    At the rocky part of my life food became the only thing I felt I had control over in my life.
    Now I eat food because I love how it tastes, feels in my mouth, and the awesome things it can do for my body. I feel like I’ve come full circle, and then some.

    1. Andi
      May 21, 2010

      @Maureen, I think like any part of our journey in life there are cycles of good and bad, seems like you have a wise understanding of that.

  14. Karen
    May 21, 2010

    Food for me is a love hate thing. I love home made foods. I just don’t get to eat much of it. Too busy with life and never enough time cook. I have not made it a priority. The thing is I hate fast food and unfortunately that is what I eat more often than not. Healthy good home cooked foods is not a huge priority for my family right now. Staying married and getting into a happier marriage is our top priority right now. Health and food will be next I hope.

    1. Andi
      May 21, 2010

      @Karen, I totally get it. My husband and I don’t have time during the week, so we do a lot of what we calling “picnicing” which is making a big pot of soup on the weekend that we eat during the week with salads and cheeses and hummus and other non-cooked items. I know that it’s not easy and sometimes efficiency must reign.

  15. Laurie
    May 21, 2010

    Yes! This post perfectly captures that completely satisfied, content feeling after a great meal, Andi 🙂

    This is what I have to say about eating: I am simply eternally-grateful to my Mom and her “three bite” rule. You can guess the rules of the rule …..three bites of everything on the plate. Whether you liked it or not, thought you didn’t like it or not. Three bites. That’s all.

    As a result, I humbly believe, I developed a rather sophisticated palate. I love thoughtful, artful or simple, healthy, well-prepared food that doesn’t have to be fancy (Remember “Loveless” Andi?), but can be. All cuisines-I love variety. I love trying new things.

    And yet, I stop eating when I get full …..even if I’ve only had three bites!

    Thanks Mom!!

    1. Andi
      May 21, 2010

      @Laurie, that is a great rule. Learning to stop eating when you are full, even when it is delicious is the ultimate skill to learn, I don’t always have that much discipline! Loveless…fried chicken….yum!

  16. Molly
    May 22, 2010

    I’m a super adventurous eater living with a hubby who has a much pickier palate. Though he would be quite content to eat the same meals EVERY week that would undoubtedly drive me mad. Since eating & preparing dinner together (as often as possible) is important to us, we had to come up with a compromise. We do something similar to what @Sabrina mentioned above. Each week we try something brand NEW. The “adventurous” meals aren’t always totally tasty, but the experience of trying something new together has been great for our relationship.

    1. Andi
      May 22, 2010

      @Molly, sounds likes you have the perfect compromise!

  17. Kerri
    May 23, 2010

    Am I the only one with negative connotations regarding food? I mean, I love food. That’s the problem. I love food too much. It has far too long been my master, instead of being mastered by me.

    I love to cook and I love to bake.

    It’s an addiction…we eat all. the. time. Someone has a party? We eat. Someone gets married? We eat. Someone dies? We eat. Someone gets sick? We bring them food.

    It’s not like being an alcoholic. People HAVE to eat. That’s why it’s one of the most difficult addictions to overcome.

    1. Andi
      May 23, 2010

      @Kerri, totally agree. The hardest thing in life is to find a level of moderation, once you do that you can go to any party or event and enjoy yourself, partake of the food and still no way enough is enough. You can cook and bake to your heart’s content, but eat it only in moderation.

  18. Sarah
    May 26, 2010

    To me, eating is a joyful experience in which one partakes in the consumption of calories.

  19. phxbne
    May 27, 2010

    my version of eat would be to go to a cooking school in France or Italy

    1. Andi
      May 27, 2010

      @phxbne, oh that’s a good one!

  20. Werner
    May 27, 2010

    As a young man I was hiking around different areas in Europe. In the Burgundy region of France, I met a couple near the village of Uxreau. They ended up inviting me to stay at their farm for a couple of days. They had a large family, of which most lived close by.

    When it came to meals, it was an event that would last for hours. All the related families would gather at one place. There was much conversation and laughing and a great variety of delicious foods. They treated mealtime as it should be – a time for family and a time for building community. It was also about passion and love for good food and one another.

    Those two days have been an enduring and influencing memory to me for over twenty years.

    1. Andi
      May 27, 2010

      @Werner, wow that sounds absolutely fantastic and I can see how they would be a treasured memory.

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