The human body is truly amazing. Think of all the functions it performs in perfect synchronicity, yet we sabotage our bodily functions with fad diets, junk food, excessive exercise and other extremes. We’ve become so disembodied, meaning that we just use our bodies to walk, see, hear, etc., that we don’t really LIVE in them or tune in to what they tell us. We don’t allow ourselves to become hungry or we ignore hunger cues so we overeat or undereat. We follow a specific diet because it promises quick weight loss or to cure whatever disease, not because it nourishes our body or feels good. We run marathons because it sculpts muscles and helps us to lose weight but kills our knees in the process.
The only way we know if these strategies are beneficial is if our bodies tell us they are with positive signs like glowing skin, healthy hair and nails and a strong body. Some strategies may work well for one person but not for the next. Some may work well for a few years and then they don’t. The only way we can gauge this is by listening to what the body tells us. We have forgone our body wisdom to listen to the advice of the unknown “they.” Maybe “they” are right but only if the body agrees.
Every once in a while, I fall into a ton of self-doubt. I begin to reconsider EVERYTHING. Am I going about building my Eating Psychology Coaching practice the right way? Am I doing enough to raise awareness of Binge-Eating Disorder and Obesity? Am I living in the correct geographic area to live my life to the fullest? Do I have enough money to make my dreams come true? Are my relationships on track? Am I good enough?
I used to let these thoughts completely derail me so I binged about them. It took a long time to realize that some of the thoughts are caused by raging hormones that amplify my fears. Even though I was aware of this, it was hard to remember that these thoughts and feelings are a normal part of my cyclical mental behavior. This took me a while to learn but I now know why I suddenly question everything. Knowledge is power so I’m able to allow the feelings, experience them, think through my decisions and get back on track much easier without bingeing.
For me, the key to dealing with the turbulence is getting in touch with my body, mind and soul so I can connect what is happening with each. In the past, I was just looking at each in a vacuum which leaves an incomplete person! Now, I relate them and look at myself as a whole which clues me in to what is happening physiologically, mentally and heartfully (is that a word? it is now!). I still experience the turbulent emotions and thoughts but I can weather the storm better and I can’t ask for anything more than that!
Now that we are officially entering into the summer months, have your food cravings changed? I’ve been craving lighter foods, like salads and fruit since the weather is becoming warmer. The heavier foods associated with the winter months have lost their appeal. Unfortunately, I don’t always listen to my body wisdom but, when I do, I feel so much better because my body is getting what it needs.
This ties into my blog post regarding Cellular Hunger where I discuss tuning in to bodily cravings to see what nutrition you need. This is a great exercise to practice listening to cellular hunger because the change of seasons often triggers different cravings driven by the weather.
Have you noticed that your eating habits are crying for a change lately? If so, head to the comments and let me know all about it!
Mostly everyone I know has a turbulent relationship with food. We’ve taken the pleasure out of eating, we’ve made eating a battleground of willpower and we’ve made food the enemy yet we can’t live without eating! If we have to do it, let’s make it enjoyable and stop fighting it.
There is no good or bad food – it’s just food. Yes, limiting or eliminating genetically modified, chemically enhanced and over-processed food is a wise decision but relegating food to enemy status isn’t an effective strategy to stop bingeing or overeating. Doing this mystifies food, makes it untouchable and we find ourselves wanting more because we want what we can’t have, right?
What if you decided to allow yourself to eat food freely, enjoy the act of eating and stopped beating yourself up about it? I suspect this is a VERY different strategy for most which is good because stigmatizing food hasn’t worked to decrease the rates of obesity in this country. It’s just made us crazy because we’re struggling against our most basic need as a human, it’s counter-intuitive. There is so much fear around eating the wrong food, following the wrong diet and gaining weight that we’ve scared ourselves out of nourishing our bodies and enjoying the eating experience.
This approach is only part of the equation when trying to achieve a healthy relationship with food but, once mastered, can be pivotal in maintaining a permanent change.
Jan Chozen Bays, MD in her book, “Mindful Eating” defines cellular hunger as signals from our body that tell us when to eat, when to stop and what to eat. She states, “If we are to return to a healthy and balanced relationship with food, it is essential that we learn to turn our awareness inward and to hear again what our body is always telling us about its needs and its satisfaction. To learn to listen to cellular hunger is the primary skill of mindful eating.” She further explains, “The body has its own wisdom and can tell us a lot about what it requires if we are able to listen. Unfortunately, as we get older we become deaf to what our bodies are telling us we need.”
Have you ever had a craving for salt or red meat? These cravings could be signals from your body telling you it needs salt or iron. Have you ever just needed to drink some water because no other liquid could quench your thirst? This could be a sign that you are dehydrated.
“The essential elements satisfy cellular hunger. These include water, salt, protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and trace elements such as iron or zinc.” In fact, many episodes of bingeing can be directly attributed to not having eaten the proper nutrition, or essential elements, throughout the day, like protein or healthy fat. These deficiencies are sneaky and often disguise themselves as cravings for junk food when your body is really calling for nutrients! Small tweaks in the diet to include more healthy protein or fat will usually curb binges or eliminate them altogether. Pretty cool, huh?
Do you tap into your cravings to see what they are telling you? Can you listen to your body to see what it TRULY needs and eat accordingly? This takes practice but is well worth it because it’s a pretty gentle way to achieve a positive relationship with food and maintain a healthy weight.
As a follow up to yesterday’s post…
We do need to find a way to re-frame the things we say to ourselves, however, before doing that, acknowledging the mean thought and being curious about it is the first step in practicing this. Sometimes it’s enough to be aware that you’re thinking mean things, the re-framing can come later.
Remember there’s no rush. When you look at it like this, it’s pretty simple, right?
Would you say the things you say to yourself to your child, spouse, best friend or parent? Consider this the next time you throw yourself under the bus with mean thoughts and comments. How can you “delete” these things from your consciousness?????
Tell me in the comments, they’re open for suggestions!