“Just eat when you’re hungry.”
Advice administered by a well-intentioned but ill-informed nutritionist
I was in college, struggling with disordered eating. At the time, I did not understood the depth of my addiction to self-loathing and my lack mindset. I just knew that I wanted to lose a few pounds and had no idea how to go about doing that. So, at the advice of a medical professional, I toted my 128 pound self on over to the nutritionist on campus.
Who was well meaning but did not understand my dysfunctional relationship with food, myself, or others. Yup, pretty much did not wrap her head or heart around my issues.
She proceeded to unpack macronutrients. Cool. Got it.
I explained to her that my issue was not in knowing so much WHAT to eat but in feeling so deeply guilty after every meal. Or snack. Cookie. Apple.
Further, my concern that each meal seemed to be getting smaller, but that the guilt was only growing. And so perhaps if she could let me know HOW MUCH to eat, that would be more useful to me.
“Just eat when you’re hungry.”
…which is actually super duper excellent and great advice…
The problem is that I had lost touch with my appetite. Me and my body were no longer on speaking terms. There was a chasm of disconnect between my mind and my body… and my soul was in there somewhere. Somewhere deep and hidden, under the covers where it was “safe.”
When I told her that I didn’t know what it felt like to be hungry and that I only knew I was full when I had eaten so much in a fury and “woke up” half hour later to more often than not 20 or 30 or 100 scattered wrappers… she gently unpacked this thing called bulimia. It wasn’t a diagnosis so much as it was a peek into a world I had unknowingly entered and now fully resided in.
That day, I left the nutritionist’s office more informed and more concerned than ever. (As an aside, she told me that I had the symptoms of disordered eating but presented as self-assured so she didn’t think there were any issues. I left with a diet in hand. I hold no grudge against her. But them there’s the facts.)
I was both less and more scared. Something in me knew that the dysfunctional thing I had going with food was rooted in stuff I had no desire unpacking.
Roll camera to 30 years ahead.
Nowadays, in recovery-ville, I understand the crucial connection among body and mind and soul. The influence they each have upon the other is powerful indeed. I have been in a practice of “being still” so that I can hear that small voice within me which informs me of hunger: physical or emotional or mental. I have come into a space of better identifying which hunger I’m feeling and how to proceed in appropriately feeding myself.
Many people talk about the mind-body connection and how what we think can affect our physical self. What I have found, even more than the mental connection, is that the emotions rule the body.
I’m hearing the differences among a tummy grumble for veges-n-fish or cookies, a mind need for unpacking a memory or for stimulation, and a soul desire for processing old or new feelings. When my soul needs to feel or my mind needs to relive, eating only masks the hunger and delays the healing. So, brave soul and wonder woman that I am, I stay. Stay to feel. Stay to remember. And the hunger is fed.
“Eat when you’re hungry.”
Energiegal here… Love works… LIFT the vibe of our world.