Author Bracha Goetz: “Expressing gratitude for the many gifts in your lives.”

Today I live a joyful life that does not revolve around food because I am no longer imprisoned by addictions. There are so many greater, deeper, and more lasting pleasures that fill my life ever since I discovered that I was essentially a soul, housed in a body. Basically I learned to feed my soul […]

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Today I live a joyful life that does not revolve around food because I am no longer imprisoned by addictions. There are so many greater, deeper, and more lasting pleasures that fill my life ever since I discovered that I was essentially a soul, housed in a body. Basically I learned to feed my soul vital sustenance, as well as my body.

Asa part of my interview series with public figures who struggled with and coped with an eating disorder, I had the pleasure to interview Bracha Goetz. Bracha is a Harvard graduate who is the author of 38 picture books “to help children’s souls shine” and the author of the candid memoir, Searching for God in the Garbage, which is a fascinating case study about developing and eventually healing from eating disorders based on actual diary entries.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?

I coordinate a Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program in Baltimore, Maryland, and I also write lots of spiritual books which can all be viewed here

Thank you for your bravery and strength in being so open with us. I understand how hard this is. Are you able to tell our readers the story of how you struggled with an eating disorder?

I suffered from anorexic behaviors fluctuating with binge eating episodes. So I was either starving myself or eating in a desperate kind of way where I could never get enough and I never felt satiated. My memoir describes some pretty bizarre behavior in which I was engaging as my condition worsened.

What was the final straw that made you decide that you were going to do all you can to get better?

There were many final straws, very low and degrading points that I reached during that period of time, and I reached a point where I really wasn’t interested in living anymore as life seemed grey and meaningless to me, imprisoned as I was. But realizing intellectually and emotionally how low I had sunk still did not help me to get better.

The thesis of my book is that there is a spiritual basis to addictions, and food addictions (which include eating disorders) are messaging us that we are in need of more lasting pleasure in our lives. Once my starving soul got the nourishment it was desperately craving, there was no longer a need for the food addictions.

And how are things going for you today?

Today I live a joyful life that does not revolve around food because I am no longer imprisoned by addictions. There are so many greater, deeper, and more lasting pleasures that fill my life ever since I discovered that I was essentially a soul, housed in a body. Basically I learned to feed my soul vital sustenance, as well as my body.

Based on your own experience are you able to share 5 things with our readers about how to support a loved one who is struggling with an eating disorder? If you can, can you share an example from your own experience?

If you have a loved one suffering in an eating disorder, you can support them by helping them bring more joy into their lives. You can do this by

1. Listening to hear about all the things that bring your loved ones the most lasting pleasure.

2. Listening to hear how those you love can fill their lives with an even wider variety of deeply joyful experiences.

3. Facilitating ways for your loved ones to help others that they enjoy doing.

4. Together, expressing gratitude for the many gifts in your lives, throughout each day.

5. Providing those who are precious to you with access to people, books, podcasts and/or videos that contain great wisdom. This helped me to recover significantly because although I was born Jewish, I had never deeply explored my own heritage. My soul was hungry for the depths of wisdom that I was finally able to find and absorb into my being.

Is there a message you would like to tell someone who may be reading this, who is currently struggling with an eating disorder?

Your soul is here to shine. Give it the fuel it needs to do that — healthy food, healthy movement, caring and kind actions, time in nature, gratitude, uplifting music, creative expression, and wise guidelines for living that a soul craves.

According to this study cited by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, at least 30 million people in the U.S. of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder. Can you suggest 3–5 reasons why this has become such a critical issue recently?

We are forgetting that we are souls. It is easy to do that because we live in a physical world in physical bodies, but there is a whole lot more to us than just our wonderful bodies in this beautiful physical world. There are realms of other levels of understanding, much more than meets the eye, and we all know this deep down. The more we focus on feeding our hungry souls what they genuinely need, we will have fewer addictions of every type because there will be less of a need to cover up or numb the emptiness within. It will be joyfully filled!

Based on your insight, what can concrete steps can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do address the core issues that are leading to this problem?

Recognize that we are spiritual beings. Have positive affirmations playing in prisons that can override the negative tapes playing in the heads of those who are incarcerated. People need to be lifted up with authentic wisdom. Rehabs and nursing homes are also generally great in need of positive messaging. I’m sure you can think of many places that would benefit from incorporating more spiritual pleasure into their regular daily protocol to boost wellbeing. Corporations clearly benefit when spiritual options are offered to workers as it boosts mood, creativity, and camaraderie. Who isn’t in need of enhancing their spiritual lives?

As you know, one of the challenges of an eating disorder is the harmful, and dismissive sentiment of “why can’t you just control yourself”. What do you think needs to be done to make it apparent that an eating disorder is an illness just like heart disease or schizophrenia?

An eating disorder is a deeply felt crying out for spiritual nourishment. So controlling oneself is not what is called for and it is basically not possible — as there are genuine needs to be met. Souls are starving and desperately craving the sustenance vital for them to thrive. That’s what eating disorders, and all the addictions that are now widespread, are telling us.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have helped you with your struggle? Can you explain why you like them?

It was actually through compiling the diary entries and letters in my memoir, Searching for God in the Garbage, I was able to have the epiphany that led to me comprehending how I recovered from eating disorders. Putting the book together helped me to see the thread that tied the different pieces together. My search intensified and got more and more desperate as the eating disorders worsened, and then, when I began to find the spiritual sustenance I had been craving for years, the gnawing emptiness within was finally filled at the deepest level. I love sharing this struggle with others now, helping those still suffering to experience the joy of recovery and lead much more pleasurable lives.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The quote that continues to help me to this very day is really a question. I encourage people to get in the wonderful habit of asking their selves this one simple, yet elucidating question when they feel like overeating. Here is the one question: “Is it my body that is hungry or my soul?” With the clarity that question brings instantaneously, we can then come up with an infinite number of ways to bring the deepest kind of pleasure that we are genuinely craving into our lives that very moment — instead of finishing off that big bag of potato chips. An individual can call or text someone lonely, step outside to breathe in some nature, count the blessings of how many parts of the body are working — or whatever fills one’s uniquely beautiful soul.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

My new picture book, Let’s Break Bad Habits!, just came out, and it distills the essence of the 12 Steps down to a level that children can comprehend. I basically try to write the kinds of children’s books that I wanted to read as a child, books that fill the soul and help it to shine. So if a child learns these concepts early on and integrates them, they will hopefully not have to suffer from addictions later on in life because they will understand that they are souls in need of consistent spiritual nourishment.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the largest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would call my movement “Soul Power!” When we recognize that we are souls, then we connect with the greatest energy within. It is also the way to savor the deepest and most lasting pleasures with which we have been blessed, spreading joy and gratitude far and wide.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and on my Bracha Goetz Author Amazon Page.

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