I used to wear glasses, and when I did you could frequently find me running frantically around my house, late for work as usual, as I searched for them. If you were looking in the window during this charade, you would undoubtedly laugh, as I would estimate at least forty percent of the time they were on my face or folded on to my shirt. To me, this demonstrates just how disconnected I was from my own body. I could have glasses resting on my skin, making my vision clearer, and have no awareness in the moment of what was, literally, right in front of me.
Thanks to LASIK and mindfulness practice, I am much more connected to myself these days and don’t lose any glasses. I know that I’m haven’t been alone in this disconnection, however. Every day I see individuals who are utterly unaware of their bodies unique signals, and I see how this unawareness wrecks havoc on their ability to properly care for themselves.
When it comes to feeding ourselves, our bodies have an absolutely incredible system for keeping us healthy. Many of us believe that if we really listen to our bodies, it will tell us to eat Hostess cupcakes all day long and send us spiraling into a state of obesity. In fact, our bodies just don’t work like that. That belief itself is worth exploring, and is often tied to messages that we’ve gotten throughout our lives about how bodies just can’t be trusted. We’re told this by our parents growing up (“You can’t be hungry yet – you just ate!”), by our friends (“Watch out or your Twinkee addiction is going to catch up to you.”) and by the diet industry (“Trick your body into losing weight!”), and even by the government and food industry, (“Follow these food pyramid guidelines, not your hunger! Don’t worry that they are the result of dairy and beef industry’s advice to the USDA.”).
What we often fail to hear through all the white noise is the sound of our Inner Nutritionist, despite the fact that he or she is wailing to get our attention. Our Inner Nutritionist is comprised of all of the internal wisdom that resides in our amazing bodies. It’s built on millions of years of collective evolution and decades of your own personal experience. To put it frankly, it knows what it’s doing – a heck of a lot better than your Aunt Sally, Slim-Fast, or the USDA.
Our Inner Nutritionist tells us things like when we are hungry and when we are full. The Inner Nutritionist even has cool hormones at his or her disposal that can make certain foods more or less appealing. Linda Bacon talks about the restrained eater, the subject of many studies, in her book, Health at Every Size. The restrained eater is someone who has kicked their Inner Nutritionist to the curb, and instead responds to external cues to determine their eating. The restrained eater responds to things like the amount of food available, peer behavior, and their emotions to determine how much and what they eat. While these things can influence all of us to some degree, those with a tight relationship with their Inner Nutritionist are able to observe and acknowledge these factors and return to their own sense of what’s right for their body in the moment.
Utilizing this resource can take a lot of practice, particularly for someone who has long ago fired the Inner Nutritionist. Bringing it back happens when we can practice mindful eating and develop a more balanced relationship with our bodies. An Inner Nutritionist packs his or her bags when her boss doesn’t believe she exists, ignores her, or, worse, berates her. Just for today, practice being curious as to where your own Inner Nutritionist might be.
Do you believe you can trust your body for your food choices?