Blog

What Part of You Is Hungry?

What Part of You Is Hungry?

Who among us hasn’t reached for something to eat at the first inkling of hunger, even when it isn’t our body that needs to be fed? While encouraging healthy approaches to eating, the driving force behind What Part of You Is Hungry? is that physical food cannot satisfy the hungers that propel many women into conflicts with their bodies and struggles with their weight. To truly succeed in maintaining a healthy weight, a woman must determine if her hunger is coming from her body or her life. What Part of You Is Hungry? shows her how.

Two guiding principles shape my work and the ideas I explore here. First, arriving to a healthy relationship with food is best understood in the context of the greater whole: a healthy relationship with yourself. The extent to which your body, mind and spirit are in a harmonious interrelationship with each other is the wellspring of your life. Dieting, by itself, too often separates you from your life.

Second, feeding your mind and your spirit well is as fundamental to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight as healthy eating is for your body. When you can figure out if your hunger is coming from your body or your life, you’ve mastered the art of feeding yourself.

Just Where Is the Dysfunction in “Dysfunctional Eating?”

shutterstock_165652964Our body weight does not define the degree of dysfunction in our eating. Anytime we use food to ease our despair rather than nourish our bodies and support our well-being, our eating is dysfunctional.

It may appear more obvious that someone needing to lose one-hundred pounds suffers with eating and food issues more than someone needing to lose fifteen, but body weight hardly defines the degree of despair we hold about our lives.

When food and despair become entwined, we lose sight of feeding ourselves and try to feed the despair, instead. Feeding despair is often a driving force behind our misuse of food and becoming entrapped in harmful eating patterns. Eating is “dysfunctional” when it leaves us on the other side of good health and loving our lives.

Using food in an effort to hide anguish from ourselves or others does not eliminate ease  pain or heal it. Understanding and accepting our vulnerabilities and difficulties as valid and endearing aspects of who we are is the foundation for true healing. Everyone comes face- to- face with all kinds of seemingly external obstacles that stand in the way of self-discovery. If yours are about your relationship with food, these obstacles are your calls for healing your life. They represent the turmoil within to know and accept everything about yourself, even the parts you don’t yet understand.

It may be sobering to admit the psychological, emotional and spiritual burdens that our body and food issues can impose on our lives. For some of us, decisions about food and eating are so layered and complicated that they become a source of on-going tension that never lets up. We become so caught up in the daily struggle that we don’t fully grasp that our lives don’t have to be this way. Before we know it, tomorrow is already upon us and the struggle begins again. A different paradigm for thinking about food can free you from thoughts about being or becoming fat, and all the other related issues that have taken a stranglehold on your life. What Part of You Is Hungry?

 

INVITATION TO HEAL

dreamstime_m_34879771Food, in its broadest sense heals. Our hunger is an invitation to healing. Our thoughts and feelings about our foods, our hungers and how we feed ourselves reflect a great deal about our identity as women. Our behavior around food says something about how well we love ourselves, how we relate to others and what we do with our lives. It’s that important.

For some of us, decisions about food and eating are so layered and complicated that they become a source of on-going tension that never lets up. We become so caught up in the daily struggle that we don’t fully grasp that our lives don’t have to be this way. Before we know it, tomorrow is already upon us and the struggle begins again. A different paradigm for thinking about food can free you from thoughts about being or becoming fat, and all the other related issues that have taken a stranglehold on your life. What Part of You Is Hungry?

Unhealthy attitudes about our bodies and how we feed them prevail. Some of us use food as a buffer between layers of pain and heartbreak, exhausting our will. Too many of us starve, no matter how much we eat. Every woman should take a close look at her relationship with food because it is perhaps the most intimate barometer of self-worth and how we live our lives. As we heal our relationship with food, we heal our relationship with ourselves and come as close to living “happily ever after” as we can get.

Benediction for the Present Moment

images25OEB15M

The concept of mindfulness is simple but not easy. Little children and dogs are uninhibitedly mindful. Their experiences are single-minded and pure because they intimately engage in every moment as it arrives, as it is experienced and as it ends.

As adults, we are too often caught up in our own thoughts and inner dialogues as the moments of our lives pass by in a noisy blur. Mindfulness brings a different kind of energy to our experiences. We remain intrinsically curious about how our lives unfold from one moment to the next.

A little bit of mindfulness goes a long way. We can deal more effectively with our personal issues and disappointments so they don’t take over.  A deliberately mindful orientation does not ignore all distracting thoughts and feelings. Instead, it acknowledges them and moves on to what immediately follows. Mindfulness keeps us deliberately connected to the continual source of human nourishment: What is happening right now, in this moment.

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.”     John Kabot-Zinn

Being aware of our hunger is not the same as being mindful about our hunger. Being aware that we are eating is not the same thing as eating mindfully. We can be aware of hunger without an inkling of the character of our hunger and how it feels. We can know that we’re eating, but if at the same time we are watching TV, cooking, reading or talking on the phone, we remain clueless about how we are responding to the qualities of our food.

If there is conflict and emotional stress involved in our relationship with food, we tend to focus most on negative and self-defeating thought patterns and not on what is happening in the very moment. We are left with only a dim awareness (and sometimes not even that) of our actual experience of eating. We deprive ourselves of a huge and joyful part of our lives.

 

The Meaning of Food: An Overview

Happy-Group-of-WomenDon’t you wish you could go back in time and ask Eve why she ate that apple? She was surrounded by lush beauty and all the food she could ever want or need. What was she not getting from living in Paradise? What wasn’t she getting from Adam? What couldn’t she provide for herself?

The whole spectrum of problems that you have with eating may be more about the nature of your hunger than about the food you consume. Some essential part of you besides your body is starving. Some need is not being met. Some potential is not being realized. Perhaps something painful is crowding out some of the joy and purpose in your life. Food, in its broadest sense, is what heals you. Food redeems your understanding of yourself.

How you feed yourself involves far more than the choices you make every day about the substances you put into your body. Certainly you need energy to carry out your thoughts, purposeful acts and support the structure and functioning of your incredible human body. Most likely you understand food to be the organic matter that maintains life. Of course, you are correct. By now, you are familiar with the terms defining major nutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins. You may know a great deal more.

But you are a lot more than your body. Your mind and your spirit are vital aspects of the whole of your being. Expand your concept of food to include much more than the wholesome substances that go into your mouth to feed your body. Your mind needs constant nourishment. Your spirit can be ravenous.

Your body, mind and spirit are fluid and intrinsically interrelated and their “appetites” ebb and flow. Every aspect of you experiences hunger, needs feeding and has its own unique food requirements. It’s up to you to recognize what part of you is hungry and determine the kind of food that will best satisfy that hunger. Keep in mind that if it nourishes your body well, enlivens your mind or expands the reach of your soul, it is food…..

 

Before During and After: Successful Weight Loss After 40

73-weight-loss-before-after

The problem with “Before and After” photos do not take into account the step by step process of committing to health, day by day, to achieve an outcome we’ve longed for. Maybe by including “During” in these images (the many ways we keep investing in our health) our “After” photo would truly be our very own “picture of health…”

 

One fallacy the weight loss industry continues to promote is that our lives will change once we lose 10, 20, or 120 pounds. One thing I know for sure from years of working with women who struggle with issues related to eating, food and weight: Changing our lives comes first. Sustained weight loss follows. Take time to define what good health means to you – what you are willing to do and what you are willing to change- to live the life you want. What one change can you make right now to live the life you want?