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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.

Don’t Feed A Starving Spirit Bread

images9TADCVNWSpiritual starvation is often self-inflicted. It has different degrees of severity as can all forms of mal-nourishment. When our spirit is starving, the symptoms are the same as when our mind or body is starving; lethargy, weakness, confusion and irritability. When we are not in touch with our heart to remind us we are enough and have enough, the quality of our lives diminish. Spiritual lethargy clouds over all aspects of our being and we are vulnerable to feelings of emptiness and loss.

A starving spirit can affect our immune system, making our bodies more susceptible to illness. When we cannot access the love in our hearts, we can be very hungry, indeed. Traipsing around, outside our hearts, makes it difficult to retrieve enough of the spiritual resources we need to overcome our most powerful urges to eat that are not biological in nature.

There is no “quick fix” to developing a healthy relationship with food or with yourself. The ultimate solution is a matter of maturity, introspection and spiritual discernment. It is a lifetime endeavor. We learn better ways to take care of ourselves over time. Fortunately, there is enough love and deep appreciation in our heart’s pantry for how we chose to live our life. We have enough courage to get through our physical and emotional problems and our soul’s struggles with feelings of worthlessness, shame, loss and grief—and all the accompanying pain. We find enough wisdom to know the truth and strive for wholeness.

For the spirit….. “Enough is a feast.”     Buddhist Proverb

 

What’s In Your Closet?

imagesIMM2YQY6When the size we wear has become the determining factor in how we eat, it is time to examine our thinking about our bodies, our hungers and how we feed ourselves. How often do we think in terms of proper nutrition and our overall health when we order lunch? Does the wedding taking place next month dictate our food intake in the weeks ahead?  Getting into a certain-sized pair of jeans is the ultimate indicator of successful weight loss for many women. The contents of our closets may reveal more about our relationship with ourselves than our fashion sense.  Ask yourself:

  • What percentage of the clothing in your closet can you wear right now?
  • What is the range of sizes?
  • Do you have any pants that you have named “fat” and “skinny” hanging around?
  • How many outfits have you never been able to wear?

 

As long as we, the women wearing the clothes, allow the definition of our own beauty to come from outside ourselves (the number on the label sewn into our clothing), body size will continue to dictate our behavior and define our self-worth.

“She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.” Naomi Wolf

“Age Appropriate” Weight Loss

untitled.pngowMost women enter perimenopause, the period that signals the end of our reproductive years, somewhere in our forties and fifties. Perimenopausal and menopausal weight gain is common. Low estrogen levels can cause hormonal imbalance during this time in our lives. Because estrogen is stored in fat, when we approach menopause, our bodies hold on to fat cells in an effort to boost falling estrogen levels. This is an excellent time to recommit to making our optimum level of health a priority and seek out useful nutritional, medical and emotional support.

As this transition in our lives stabilizes, so may a new bodyweight. Having arrived at a middle or more mature age, trying to get back to our high school or college weight doesn’t always make sense. Our post-reproductive longevity affords us opportunity to make some challenging but gratifying upgrades, improvements and remodeling as we seek to mature gracefully. Even the physical changes our bodies undergo as we mature (which our culture works so hard to deny) are essential preconditions to reaching a productive and happy old age with less conflict, gracious surrender and welcome.

We can be healthy, active “seniors.” We can even move comfortably into a larger size. The fact that we once wore a size 6 or 8 and have added an extra digit to the number on our labels is not catastrophic. If we are decidedly overweight and losing a lot of weight all at once is too difficult to achieve or maintain, it is important to keep in mind that losing excess weight in stages is also beneficial.

No matter what your weight loss goal is, even a modest weight loss, such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight, is likely to produce health benefits such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars. You can also expect to see improvements in your energy level, physical mobility, general mood, and self-confidence. Starting off with a more modest weight loss goal makes it easier to maintain it and may motivate you to take more weight off later on, at your own pace.

Whether you’ve always had trouble with your weight or struggled anytime along the way, take heart. You can start wherever you are right now. It’s never too late. Your body wants to be healthy and will ultimately benefit from your efforts to feed it well, regardless of the extent to which its performance, functioning and form have been compromised. Your amazing body manages a legion of complex human functions and interactions to maintain its balance and health with loyalty and resilience. You can depend on your body to make courageous efforts to compensate for physical and psychological maladies as they occur as long as you make more healthy choices and decisions about its care.

getty_rf_photo_of_three_women_exercising We can successfully stabilize our weight and get our bodies fit in our 50’s, 60’s and beyond – perhaps with an advantage we did not have available to us when we were younger. An African proverb says: “The death of a very old person is like the loss of a library.” Our knowledge base builds intellectually and emotionally as we age. Experience gives us greater wisdom in seeking out more creative strategies and effective resources for dealing with the issues we face.

It makes sense that the care and preservation of our bodies would become even more important to us as we acquire a deeper understanding of our own mortality. Along with the realization of the utter preciousness of life, we gain insight into many of those youthful, naïve, intense interpretations of reality. “Some day” is “right now” and our “prince” is decidedly in the past.

We transition from having to have a fit and healthy body to really wanting one. We can stop pushing our bodies to more extreme physical limits and begin to respect those limits as they change. We can care more about our relationship with our bodies than what they look like. Most importantly, we understand how precious our health is to the quality of our lives. And so, we nourish our bodies responsibly, lovingly and with great enthusiasm because we want to fully enjoy every moment.

 

Restaurant Mindset

 

 

 

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When you go out to eat, you are hiring someone to prepare food for you. You are in charge, not the menu or the “specials” nor the wait-person. As long as you base your selections according to the foods the restaurant has available, you can decide how you want your meal prepared, how sauces are used and what side orders you want.

Most good restaurants will prepare virtually anything that you want and are pleased to do so. Why not order extra veggies and less pasta in your Pasta Primavera? Good chefs don’t have a problem with preparing a healthier version of their dishes. Honoring substitutions, doubling up on healthy sides or ordering three spoons to share one fabulous dessert reflect a high standard of service which should be a part of a satisfying and healthy dining experience.

Eating Out in Groups

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The more social the focus is while eating, the more you tend to eat. It is possible to make healthy choices, enjoy your meal and have fun at the same time. When eating with a group, size up the people you are with and try to pace yourself with the person who remains in touch with the others while enjoying her meal. Of course, you can be that person.

When you are eating with others, check in with yourself every now and then to check your hunger level. Are you satisfied? Is there something more you want? What might that be? When you know you’ve had enough, ask for your plate to be removed and enjoy a beverage while you take in the good company.

“All You Can Eat?”

untitled.png bbbbBuffets can be overwhelming – Especially when you’re hungry. When eating at a buffet, know what’s being served before putting any food on your plate. Most people don’t think about making this effort and it is enormously helpful.

Rather than start blindly at the beginning of the spread, take a walk around the table to see what is being served and give some thought to your selections. Decide what to pass up ahead of time. Voila! You have a plan! Then put only two or three items at a time on your plate. Even if you make repeated trips, you’ll eat a lot less. Too many food choices can stimulate your appetite.

 

 

Junk Food Landscape

images7GE7Z3V1“Junk food is everywhere. It is in the cereal aisle in the supermarket and sometimes in what we listen to on the radio or watch on television. Some of our daily interactions, routine regrets, or work that has become pointless and boring can also qualify as junk food. Whatever or whoever introduces toxicity into our bodies or our lives can fall into the category of ” junk food.”

On examination, some of the content in our closets, bookshelves and computers might be obvious examples of junk food we can best do without.  A friendship, a family member or a co-worker that routinely leaves us feeling guilty or worn out hardly nourishes us. Just like junk food in our diets can pose harmful consequences for our health when we eat it regularly and in large quantities, a stressful relationship, an uninformed belief or self-deprecating behavior can upset our system and cause all kinds of unhealthy cravings.

Fear, impatience and intolerance, towards ourselves or others, are prime examples of junk food. Harsh judgments bloat our egos and weigh us down. Feeding ourselves with nutritional and personal integrity keeps  our lives original and satisfying.  Junk food in all its forms can sabotage our health. We can recognize junk food by the way it makes us feel before, during or after we take it in.

What might qualify as “junk food” for you?