Reflecting on your thoughts is a part of the healing process when shifting your relationship with food and your body. This reflection process becomes one of observation and curiosity versus judgment or criticism of oneself. This can feel like one of the hardest parts of the journey. You learn to be okay that the thoughts will be there. It is what you do with them that is the key.
When you start on the road to intuitive eating, you feel very empowered to leave dieting behind. It can be one of the most invigorating parts of this process. You might also feel unsure about the process. You know that you don’t want to diet anymore, but you are unsure how this will work.
As you move through your journey, you will find that your thoughts may linger back to the “diet days” or when you were more restrictive or lived by set rules with food and your body. Sometimes it may feel like you are really stuck in them. That they have overtaken your brain, and it feels hard not to want to go back to the plan, or diet, or the rules. You might even do so.
You need to know that dieting is trauma. It is mental, emotional, and physical trauma to you and your body. This is why it is so difficult to unblend yourself from the rules and ways with food that have made you feel in control. It likely was even a part of your identity.
Unblending is what we worked on this month with looking at the ten statements/thoughts that can go through your mind and categorize them into mind, body cue, or self-care. This work is important. When you go through the process of really observing the thought and looking at what it means, you can see what the trauma from diet mentality is, what your body is giving you cues of what it needs, and responding with self-care.
Diet mentality creates a very all-or-nothing relationship. Therefore you might feel anger or even frustration with yourself if a diet thought creeps in your head, especially if you have been at the healing process for a while. This is where I will ask you to have compassion for yourself. Compassion is a necessity in the work of healing.
The thought becomes information. It can trigger a situation that you feel you need control, and you go straight to what the old pattern has always been, food and body. The observation is in looking at the intensity or the “volume” of the thought. Is it yelling, or is it a whisper? Are you able to recognize it and act kindly towards yourself, or do you feel stuck in it?
Can you tell the difference between a diet-mentality thought and a thought that serves you and your self-care? How are those different? How do each of those feelings in your body? For example, when I think about a diet-mentality thought, I feel restriction and tightness in my chest and stomach. Images of jail cell bars cover these areas on me. When I think of a self-care thought, there is lightness and openness around my heart. This warm sensation washes over my heart and into my stomach.
Really drop into your body to feel the difference in how each of those thoughts is experienced in your body. Your body holds so much wisdom! You need to check in with it to find the answer that is the most self-serving.
Remember that part of the process is being aware of what your body is feeling and what your thoughts are saying. It is the blend of listening, instinct, emotion, and rational thought. Can you be aware of your thoughts, compared with being aware of the direct experience from your body cues, help you become an Intuitive Eater?
The work is being able to navigate the thoughts and compare them to what your body is saying to you. If you are hungry, but you haven’t worked out, and you just ate an hour ago, what are your thoughts? Your body gives you the cue that it needs nourishment, but you may feel that you haven’t “earned” to eat again or that you shouldn’t be hungry. The key to becoming an intuitive eater is to use rationale, instinct, and listening here. Responding as an intuitive eater would be to honor your body and eat because it asks to be fed.
Becoming aware of hunger is a bigger process than what you may have realized. When you give yourself the space to step back and look at all the factors that can impact your hunger, lack of hunger, and thoughts attached to the “shoulds” of hunger, you can see all the layers of healing and listening involved. Just know you will reach this place of knowing in the time that is right for you. For some people, it can take a few weeks. For others, it can take years. So stay in your lane, take in the view, and get reacquainted with the brilliancy of your body!