Puente De Luz is an educator, healer, and the host of the Genesis Healing Institute’s podcast. She speaks about her journey of decolonizing eating disorders, sexuality, and culture in this special interview. We thank her courage, truth, and wisdom in sharing her story for all collective healing.
Question: How has your relationship to sexuality and food developed over the years?
Natalie: Over the years I realized that my relationship to food and my relationship to my sexuality were mirrors for one another. The sexual energy I suppressed was expressed in the foods I binged on, and food subsequently became my most intimate relationship and companion. Looking back now, I can see that I was simply using food to silence the emotions that I did not know how to deal with, avoid the questions about myself that I was afraid to ask, and hide the parts of myself I didn't want to see. Healing involved learning to understand and accept my body with all of its complexity, and recognizing that what I craved from food really just pointed to a deeper desire for intimacy and connection, both with myself and with others. Although my exploration and understanding of my sexuality is still just truly beginning and unfolding, I now relate to myself with reverence rather than shame, embracing my desire rather than denying it, and celebrating my progress rather than criticizing my shortcomings.
Question: What has been the most healing thing for you on your journey of decolonizing your relationship to food and sexuality?
Natalie: Education, vulnerability, and radical self acceptance have all helped me to decolonize my relationship to food and sexuality. The more I educated myself about the social systems that are designed to profit off of women's insecurity, exploit our sexuality, and withhold from us the power of our own bodies, the more I became motivated to transcend my own toxic self-relationship. Healing and loving myself became an act of resistance, and being vulnerable enough to share my experience with others helped me to connect with other women and gather the momentum I needed to rise out of a downward spiral. A pivotal moment came for me one day when I was standing in front of the mirror looking at my body, and just as the negative internal voice was about to speak, I remembered all of the dark energies in the world that were ready to feed off of my self-hatred. I stopped in that moment and told myself that even if my body never changed, or if my eating disorder never went away, I loved myself no matter what. I held myself and spoke to myself as a lover would, and made a commitment to never again turn against myself or my body.
Question: How has your culture/community played a role in your relationship to food/sexuality/relationships?
Natalie: Growing up in a Mexican Catholic household often made it difficult to understand or even talk about my eating disorder and struggles with my sexuality. In my culture, food is an expression of love, it is how you bond with family, how you share quality time- but for me, food was an enemy that I fought every day. This tension often led me to feel distanced and isolated not only from my family but close friends and loved ones. Yet ultimately, it was returning to my community that healed me. I heard recently that the opposite of addiction is connection, and I have found that to be true in my experience. The moment I gathered the courage to tell the people I loved what was going on, whether it was in person or with a letter that I shared with a few people, I began to liberate myself from the negative patterns that wanted to keep me isolated. I can now say that I overcame disordered eating not by my own will, but because of the constant practice of being vulnerable, open, and held in community by those I love.