Could a healthy living support group bring Israeli and Palestinian woman together? Fat chance, you say? Tell that to Slim Peace, a support group for women of various religions who want to improve their eating habits and self-esteem. The group was founded in the Middle East, but as reported in The New York Times, the group has now made its way to Boston, Massachusetts. I’d like to see it spread.
Some eating disorder awareness advocates might be opposed to the propagation of weight loss support groups, and I’ll admit it could use a less weight-focused name. But we shouldn’t be so quick to scrape this group off our plates. For one thing, it promotes the sensible Mediterranean Diet, not one of the numerous “lose weight fast” fad diets. The group also teaches attendees to tap into their spiritual sides, guiding them through mindful eating and connecting with their “inner power.” The 10-week group even culminates with a shared meal.
But the most central reason I love this group? Christian groups bring together Christians. Liberal groups bring together liberals. But eating groups can bring together everyone. Regardless of your gender, race, religion, political stance, or sexual orientation, if you live in the United States (or the Middle East, or Asia, or on the planet Earth), you probably struggle with food, even if just sometimes.
Many people struggle with food. With having too little or with eating too much. With feeling hungry or with “feeling fat.” Food has power around the globe. It can instigate riots, spur legislation, and enrich or deplete lives.
But food can also bring together families. It can help us cross boundaries of culture and ideology. That’s exactly what I think Slim Peace is about, and it’s something we all could use a little more of.