When you are healing your relationship with food, you are trying to listen to your thoughts and respond to what your body is telling you. Your intention is to try to figure out what it is your body is wanting. This new way of interacting with your body can feel challenging at first. You are often met with old thought patterns that you had when you were dieting or grew up with. Even as you are in this healing process, the thoughts can still be there, even if they are just a whisper.
The work is to sort out what is just a thought versus what is the message that your body, your companion, is giving you. Last week in “Body Talk or Head Talk,” we looked at five statements that can cross your mind. I asked you to figure out if each statement was either mind, body cue, or self-care.
Just for review mind reflects a thought, opinion, or judgment. This one is probably the hardest to decipher, especially if you grew up in a diet household. The opinion of your parents became your truth of what you followed with food. I can’t tell you how many clients I have said they grew up never snacking because their parents told them that snacking was bad. That is the truth of what they follow (which is often part of their issue with overeating at the end of the day).
Body cue is a direct experience or sensation from your body. This is so much of what you are learning and getting reacquainted within your body. You become more attuned to listening to what your body is telling you and feeling the varying degrees of sensations that it gives you. For example, part of what I want my clients to discover is when their body is just starting to ask to be fed. It is what I call the nudges of hunger. They often recognize the extreme sensation of feeling starving when their body is screaming and in urgency to be fed. This process is attunement. It is becoming more tolerant and used to being “in” your body to listen.
Self-care is the action that takes care of your needs but will also involve the mind. This is the ultimate goal. Self-care becomes something that you just do. It is the response to what your body is asking for. You are able to either meet or counter the thought and do what you know your body needs.
Mind, Body Cue or Self-Care
Below are five statements that you will decide which category it falls in, just as we did last week.
|I did not exercise today, but I ate a lot of calories! It was way too many calories, considering I didn’t even work out, but I was hungry all day, so I ate.|
|I haven’t eaten since breakfast, about six hours ago; therefore, I should eat something, even though I don’t feel hungry.|
|I don’t know when we will arrive at my parents’ house for dinner. It’s a long drive. I’m going to pack a snack.|
|I’m anxious about my presentation, my mouth is dry, and my stomach is queasy-therefore, I’m going to skip breakfast.|
|I don’t feel very hungry for dinner. I will eat something light but satisfying.|
I did not exercise today, but I ate a lot of calories! It was way too many calories, considering I didn’t even work out, but I was hungry all day, so I ate.
This is such a great example of being “in” the work. You can tell this is thought. It reflects being in the diet mentality of once needing to “earn” eating by the thought of judgment and even guilt with eating a lot and not exercising. It is so reflective of what is taught by our diet culture both about food “allowance” and exercise. What is great about this is seeing the honoring that happens. It is the shift of being aware of the body’s cue of hunger and responding to it. What an amazing act of self-care.
It’s important to mention that you are not doing anything wrong if you have these thoughts. It is all how you respond to them. Like I said, sometimes it can be a whisper. They are still there, but you are able to respond to your body with self-care and honor. That is the work! You may even feel uncertainty when you are first starting this process; again, all normal. It can even rear its head when you are well on your way in this process. When that happens, it just becomes the red flag to look at your self-care.
I haven’t eaten since breakfast, about six hours ago; therefore, I should eat something, even though I don’t feel hungry.
This is a wonderful example of self-care. It is using your knowledge of how to take care of your body and override what you may be feeling physically. If you remember, I have talked about using the guideline of eating every three to four hours. When you are aware of not feeling hunger and being well past that, you are using your practice of body honoring.
I don’t know when we will arrive at my parents’ house for dinner. It’s a long drive. I’m going to pack a snack.
Another great example of self-care. This is part of the shift in how you think of food. When you have been a dieter and very disordered with food, food took up a lot of your thoughts. There can be some resistance to thinking about food again and prepping food for the day. But the shift is instead of the thoughts being negative or “war-like,” they shift to a place of honor. I always ask my clients to ask themselves, “Is this a loving or kind choice?” You can feel into how that difference in thought is experienced.
I’m anxious about my presentation, my mouth is dry, and my stomach is queasy-therefore, I’m going to skip breakfast.
The symptoms that are experienced by the body are actual body sensations of anxiety. When you are in a state of acute stress, especially with feeling anxiety, your hunger cues are blunted. It makes sense that you might lean toward not eating, but this is where using your Nutrition 911 plan would be ideal as an act of self-care.
I don’t feel very hungry for dinner. I will eat something light but satisfying.
This one is a bit tricky. Is the plan of eating something light a form of dieting or self-care? It really is dependent on the experience of your body. When you are not fully attuned to your body and not experiencing hunger, it can feel like you are honoring what your body is saying. But I would counter with the question: What would you do if you started eating and felt more hungry? Would you eat more, or would you stick to the lighter meal because that is what you said you would do? Herein lies the truth of what place you are in.
Navigating the thoughts as you are healing your relationship with food is all a part of the journey. The practice is recognizing the thoughts/statements and seeing the shift in how you respond to them. The beauty of this process is feeling that difference. Your body will thank you. You will feel more connection, more gratitude, and more peace within. And truly see how far you’ve come!