The idea of body trust, or even the belief that your body is acting on your behalf is likely challenging if you are in the midst of an eating disorder or dieting process. I talk with my clients often about the general lack of body trust that is portrayed in the media, and represented by much of the world. This is Diet Culture 101 messaging: if you were to let go of the reins a little bit, or change your patterns in the smallest way, your body would, in turn, do you wrong.
This is unequivocal bullshit.
I talk about this a lot with clients when they mention fear of incorporation of new foods, or of challenge foods, or historical binge foods. The message I hear repeatedly is that their bodies would not communicate with them at the appropriate time to cue the cessation of intake. When I hear talk like this, I often ask my clients to imagine a day in which the ONLY thing they were able to eat was the target food that we are discussing. Often times, these are historically charged foods. For the sake of this example, let’s talk about donuts.
Imagine a day in which you wake up and are allowed to eat only donuts. For breakfast, you have a doughnut or two, and probably feel pretty good. You’re excited that you’re eating this food with full permission, and move on with your day. Morning snack comes along, and you enjoy another donut. No biggie! You’re probably still pretty excited about the fact that you get to eat this food by the time lunchtime rolls around. As you continue to feed yourself throughout the day, how are these off-limits donuts working for you as the only food of the day? Regardless of the answer, you continue on the donut-only day and have a few more donuts to keep you going. By the end of the night, I am curious, how do you believe that your body would feel?
You might have a head full of judgments about the fact that you only in donuts on that day, but tuning into your body, how do you think your body would feel? Most often when I ask this question, clients are very quick to say that they think they would probably feel poorly. They would not feel energized, that they would be bored of donuts, and that they would be wanting other foods.
The important take away message here is that this feedback, this fatigue or less than stellar feeling is your body communicating to you that it knows how to help you care for yourself. It is NOT the guilt or judgement that makes you feel poorly, it is YOUR PHYSICAL BODY ASKING FOR VARIETY.
The next time you suggest that your body is not to be trusted, consider this. Your body can communicate with you and help you to feel good. Those messages can be ignored, but if we practice tuning in, they're present and designed to keep us feeling good.
Drop the food judgments. Tune into the wisdom of your body.
I TRUST YOUR BODY.
Anna P. Sweeney, MS, CEDRD(S), LDN