A few weeks ago I was on the phone with a client talking through how to listen to our bodies. This particular client wanted to talk through her hunger and fullness, and learning how to lean into trusting both more.
We got on the topic of what it feels like when we start to notice that we are getting full. As we talked through this, memories flooded my own mind about what used to happen I would begin to register that I was getting full in the middle of a meal…
Part of me would hate the feeling of noticing that I was getting full, because I didn’t want to stop eating. Whatever it was that I was eating, I was really enjoying – I didn’t WANT it to end.
Ever experienced that feeling?
In order to get to a place of honoring my hunger and fullness, I had to do a lot of work to help me detach from my food in the moment – I had to learn how to create space between me and the overwhelmingly good flavor of real food (versus the low-calorie foods I had previously eaten all those years I was dieting).
Some people talk about how listening to your hunger and fullness is like another diet, and I just have to say that I disagree with that. Being able to get to a place where I am able to honor my body when she’s full, and eat when I’m hungry has been a huge blessing for me, personally.
I can totally see where those people are coming from when they talk about how paying too much attention hunger and fullness can turn it into a diet (they certainly can if we turn these things into hard fast rules in which we MUST follow or else we’re being “bad”).
However, we don’t have to do that. And if you can begin this process with the awareness that you’re not going to do that, you’re already 10 steps ahead of the game. We can use these signals from our bodies (hunger, and fullness) to get more in touch with ourselves and end more of our meals feeling good.
Back to my conversation with this client…
We talked about slowing down when she started to feel her fullness simply by leaning back in her chair, placing her feet on the floor, and bringing her thoughts to a calm, slower pace. Letting herself know that she was totally safe and that she didn’t have to stop eating if she didn’t want to. Taking all the pressure away.
If she felt ready to take a break from the food (aka, stopping eating without the pressure), she could tell herself she could eat the food again in 15 or 20 minutes if she thought of it. There were absolutely NO rules she had to follow. She was simply trying to respond to her body in a way that would leave her feeling good.
Then she asked, “What can I do with my time during those 20 minutes? In the past when I’ve tried this, I’ve thought about food the entire time.” (So normal, by the way – we turn these thoughts down over time.)
So, I asked her a question…
“Well,” I said, “If food didn’t exist tonight, what would do? What would you fill that quiet time with?” <– While also acknowledging that we don’t always have to “fill” our time.
She thought long and hard. I reassured her that she was safe to take her time thinking about this. After all, I knew that this was much more common that she knew it was – not knowing what else you would enjoy if you had free time.
When we think about food so often, sometimes, there is a lack of other pleasures in our lives. Or, just simply a lack of knowing what else we might enjoy doing with our time. We’re not used to giving ourselves so much permission to just enjoy the moment.
This is where we want to remember primary foods and secondary food. Primary foods, or soul foods, as my partner Simi likes to call them in Finally Free, nourish us on a soul level. These are non-food sources of nourishment like creativity, physical movement, joy, and spending time connecting with others. The list goes on.
When we’ve been stuck in a cycle for dieting for quite some time, our primary foods and secondary foods flip flop. The food we eat becomes the primary focus, and all of our non-food sources of nourishment become secondary.
When we begin eating intuitively and listening to our bodies, we want to put each of these “foods” back in their places.
So back to the question that I asked my client…
If food did not exist tonight what would you do with your time?
My client came up with a list of things that she would love to do with her time instead, that she hadn’t done or thought about for a while. She could:
- spend time drawing
- shower, get into comfy pajamas, and climb into bed an and hour early to spend time reading a book
- cozy up on the couch with a warm fuzzy blanket and watch one of her favorite shows on Netflix
- take a break and simply relax on the couch doing nothing
If food popped up in her mind during this time, which it probably would, she would see this as normal and could remind herself what she was doing: “I am relaxing right now, I can have more food very next time that I feel hungry. I am safe to enjoy this down time.”
I write this post today to let you know that if you think about food a lot, and you have a history of dieting, this is totally normal, and it can absolutely be worked on if it’s something that is bothering you.
Now ask yourself: If food did not exist tonight (or, whatever time of day you tend to eat when there’s an absence of hunger) what would you do?
This question is not set up to make you feel guilty. None of us need to feel bad for eating when we’re not hungry – we all do it, and it’s okay. However, if you feel like you’re continually overeating out of boredom, for example, and it’s something you want to work on, this is a useful question to ask yourself.
For some of you… what might come up are thoughts like:
- Ah, I’d be so bored
- I’d have to sit with my feelings
- That would be so uncomfortab
If these sort of thoughts come up, it’s okay. Again, this is more common than you think. Simply reflect and create some awareness here, and think about how you would like to respond. If you need more support here, check out Finally Free or my private coaching services.
I hope this post was helpful for you, please feel free to share any comments or questions that you have in the comments section of this post below.
Before you go, make sure you’re signed up for my VIP Q+A emails by entering your first name and email anywhere on my site – you’ll get my free “Self-Love Bundle” when you do so, too!