mental wellness · recovery

Respecting Hunger,Cravings And All The Rest

People have looked on in horror at my blase attitude towards food consumption, almost as if my want for comforting foods and sugary snacks will rub off on them and they’ll become a crazed sugar addict.

Yes, I have made comments about eating cookies for fun, or delving into a packet of crisps just because I fancied it. I know that it concerns some individuals, because let’s be honest, these types of foods aren’t viewed as the best thing to eat and they seemed to be panicked that I’ll eat my way into a health crisis. Too many people are obsessed with food; How much, how ‘bad’, how ‘clean’, how they can twist and manipulate their food choices to ensure their body’s are satisfied with the bare minimum, how long they can go with out eating, how much exercise can be crammed in without feeling faint.

News flash people! Our bodies will never be satisfied with the bare minimum!

I spent a long time trying to ignore hunger cues and cravings. I skipped meals, avoided snacks and I had this belief that I would be happier, healthier because I stopped myself ‘indulging’. But it didn’t work. I didn’t trust my body and it nearly destroyed me.

why do so many of us lose trust in our bodies natural abilities? The stuff (yes stuff, I’m not good with sciencey wording) that tells us we need food, the way it digests all the good bits and keeps us alive. Maybe it’s listening to people spout negativity about their own problems, maybe it’s the comparison that comes hand in hand with social media? Maybe there was no trust to begin with?  But see, I find that hard to believe. Take a new born baby, a tiny human who has zero world experience. Through instinct, this baby knows when it’s hungry and they will make that need know to the person who feeds them (probably quite noisily) and they will eat. They will keep eating until they are full and then they will stop. No it’s not witch craft or miracle work, it’s just life. With no concerns about weight or appearance, they will have this initiative to eat and then to stop without forcefulness or deprivation.

So ask yourself the question, how have we lost this simple human function or listening to our body?

I think what I struggled with most was that my body had the shear audacity to still be hungry after eating. I mean, how rude! Or that my stomach would groan and gurgle, shouting to be fed at the most ridiculous hours. We’ve been fed myths over the years that tell us how awful it is to eat after a certain time or how long you need to wait for your food to digest before sleeping because you’ll wake up having gained a stone or two. But hey, you know what I’ve discovered? Stomachs don’t have opening and closing times. They aren’t like the local convenience store, opening at 7am and promptly closing at 5pm. They are open for business ALL. THE. TIME! Working, digesting, living. They don’t stop.

So if i’m still hungry after my lunch you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll eat until I’m satisfied. If it’s 10pm when I get home from work and my tummy is shouting ‘HEY LUCY I’M IN NEED OF FOOD’ then I’m going to feed it. If I’m craving warm cookies or fluffy mash potato then I’m going to honour those cravings. Because what’s the alternative? Sitting for hours being distracted by the thought of food? Not being able to sleep because my belly is rumbling? Bingeing because I’ve deprived myself from food for too many hours and in turn, creating a situation that will make me feel worse than any snack could?

It doesn’t sound healthy or happy to me.

Yes, maybe you are struggling to have that relationship with your body. Maybe you’re depriving yourself by skipping meals or using food alternatives because you’re terrified of losing control. But what if you tried to sit for a  moment and tune into what your body really wants?

Hungry at 8pm? Instead of panicking and ignoring the pangs of hunger in vain hope they’ll disappear, just have a snack, start off small. You don’t need to have a 3 course meal to make it count.

Your mind can’t stop drifting towards thoughts of cheeses, breads or buttery goodness? Then allow yourself to have something! Listen to those cravings, however weird, however wacky they may be! Your mind isn’t creating them for fun, it’s what your body wants at this very moment! So honour that and get yourself some super smelly cheese and beautifully crusty bread. See how wonderful you feel afterwards.

What’s the point in feeding your body a less than satisfying alternative? (unless you have an intolerance or allergy or course) Why aren’t we enjoying the magic that is food? All the flavours, textures and joy! Why do so many people insist on eating bland, boring recipes with the argument that they’re being healthy?  Why don’t we feed our bodies what they are asking for at the very moment they ask for it, instead of waiting it out with that hope that we’ll stop being hungry at some point?

Like I said, there’s no magic or mystery here. Just a woman listening to her body.

Sure, there are some weeks when I can’t get enough sugar snacks, but that’s not all I eat! My body will not constantly want sugar, it will need other bits and bobs, depending on the time of day, how bad my week has been, the time of the month. So when it tells me to stop, I do. I listen. Alternatively, if it’s telling me that it’s not done with eating then I’ll have some more. If it’s crying out for a salad or some fruit or protein, I will be honouring those cravings just as much as all the cakes and crisps! Just because I’m using cravings and cues to determine my diet does not mean that I’m gorging on all the foods that are seen as ‘bad’ and I think that’s why so many people panic when they  do get a craving. They believe that once they start they just won’t stop! But that’s simply not true. Your body knows what it wants and how much it wants, it just needs you to listen. So do so, carefully, with love and undivided attention. You will be okay.


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