Principle two: Honor Your Hunger**NOTE: everything discussed in this blog series is derived from Intuitive Eating and the intuitive eating workbook. As you read these posts, I strongly encourage you to purchase and read both as this series will not be as thorough and informative as the books. Each month we will focus on one principle at a time. Allow yourself the space to simply look at that one principle. My desire for you, dear reader, is that these posts will 1) allow you to dig deep into understanding your relationship with food, 2) that kindness and compassion for yourself will grow, and 3) that you will experience real flourishing as you develop trust with your body.**
Usually by fourth period I could no longer ignore the churning happening inside my stomach. I didn’t mind the hollow feeling or the gnawing pain. I relished in it as a sign of success. I was, however, hyper-aware of the loud growls my insides let out. It was as though my hunger was trying to rat me out to my classmates, letting them know I hadn’t eaten all day. Determined to hide, I would do anything I could to cover up the sound: coughing, rifling though papers, or asking a question. When the bell finally rang at 11:50, I wouldn’t turn left out of the French classroom to the cafeteria like the rest of my chatting peers. Instead I’d turn right towards the Library where I’d spend all of the lunch hour. I’d make my way to the study carols, sit down, and whip out a textbook and my plastic baggie of meticulously measured dry cereal. I’d read as I slowly ate every morsel of my 1 cup of Cheerios, my only food source for the school day, and hope that would quench my stomach’s exposing roars. The rest of the day would include similar battles as I vacillated between loving, hating, and avoiding my body’s felt sense of hunger.
Perhaps as you read this, it doesn’t resonate with your own story. Perhaps you are keenly aware of your body’s biological hunger signals. Perhaps you listen to those cues and feed your body what it needs and craves as often as you can. Perhaps you aren’t used to avoiding your hunger in hopes it will go away. Perhaps you don’t celebrate hunger as a sign of victory in whatever diet you are participating in. What a gift to be able to see hunger like this!
However if my story does resonate with you, you aren’t alone. So many of us grow up surrounded by diet culture and can start to believe in the lie that our worth is somehow connected to how thin/healthy/fit we are. One of my biggest challenges to becoming an intuitive eater was learning to listen to my body without judgement. It took a lot of time for me to see hunger as simply my body’s way of letting me know it needs to be nourished or refueled. It took perhaps even more time for me to realize that my level of hunger or fullness does not say anything about who I am as a person.
If you’ve been dieting, it may be hard for you to even recognize your bodies’ felt sense of hunger or your false beliefs about what your hunger means. That’s ok! It will take time before you are able to discern when your body is telling you it needs to be taken care of. Your body’s hunger cues are nuanced and complex. In order to be attuned to them, it will require patience and self-compassion.
As you explore what it would look like to honor your hunger, ask yourself these questions:
You will not honor your hunger perfectly. I sure don’t and I have been at this journey for years. Intuitive Eating is not about perfection. You are ok as you are at every step in this process.
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