Our bodies speak to us. They tell us when we’re tired, when we’re thirsty, and when we’re full. But did you know that your body also tells you when you’re making a bad choice, in a difficult situation, in love, infatuated, and a litany of other emotional states? I’m serious. When you listen, your body talks. It may not be speaking straight up English, but it’s letting you know what’s going on.
Did you know that there are more nerves in the stomach than in the brain? When people tell you to “go with your gut” or “trust your gut instinct,” they’re referring to the fact that it can actually feel. If something’s not right, you may get a little queasy, nauseous, or cramps. If something is really great for you, you’ll feel this feeling like your stomach is filling up. It’s a particularly joyful feeling.
In today’s culture, we are out of touch with what our bodies are saying. We rely on a clock to tell us when to eat, drink 8 glasses of water a day because “the USDA says so,” and sleep when we can’t keep our eyes open anymore. There’s nothing instinctual or natural about any of that. When I worked for Heifer International’s Learning Center at Overlook Farm, I would ask the kids, “How do you know when you’re hungry?” The most common answer: “When your stomach rumbles.” I’d say, “Kids, that’s called ‘digestion’ True hunger is felt in the throat.”
Most people have never experienced hunger. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s wonderful that so many of us have food on the table and in our cupboards. There’s nothing shameful about having access to an abundance of food. What’s not so great, however, is that because of this, we’ve lost touch with our body’s signals. If you’ve never experience true hunger, how do you know when to eat? How do you know, on a scale of 1-10, 0 being starving and 10 being bursting at the seams, where you’re at?
Unlike most people, I’ve had the experience of being truly hungry when I was anorexic. I’m grateful for that experience because of what it taught me about being mindful of my body. Anorexia is a serious mental illness that causes you to ignore your body’s signs and signals out of fear of gaining weight. Emotional eating isn’t quite as serious, but it’s becoming more common and it’s a socially acceptable way of ignoring what your body is telling you.
If you’re interested in getting more in touch with your body, try mindfulness-based approaches to eating. Read books like The Slow Down Diet, Breaking Free from Emotional Eating, and Beyond the Food Game. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry or if it’s something else that you’re looking for (e.g. hugs, love, attention, affection, recognition, acknowledgement, joy, laughter). Emotional eating is usually using food to literally stuff down feelings. The thing is, though, when you lose the weight, the feelings are going to come back. You can address them now or address them later (hint: the sooner, the better).

Author's Bio: 

Shannon Lagasse, Self-Love and Emotional Eating Coach, teaches women how to lose weight by ditching the diet and loving their body. By coming from a focus on pleasure, instead of discipline and deprivation, her clients are empowered to lose weight naturally, easily, and for good. Get your FREE e-book, “Why Diets Don’t Work: 7 Keys to Weight-Loss That Don’t Involve Food” by visiting www.breakthroughtobodylove.com.

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