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Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
Do you listen when your body says 'I'm hungry?'
by Harriet Frew on February 10th, 2014

Doesn’t this sound so basic! Of course, why not feed your body (in the plentiful western world) when it is telling you to eat.
 
We are so used to rules and using our minds to tell us when to eat rather than listening to our bodies – don’t eat after 8pm; limit sugar; eat low fat options; no dessert today etc. You might know how many calories there are in many foods; you might know your exact weight – how to lose a bit or gain a bit; you might know when you are allowed to have a certain treat; BUT do you really know when you are hungry?
 
It is so easy to have stopped trusting our bodies. It is challenging to believe that our bodies can communicate to us how much we need to eat. After feeling the need to control food, it can feel terrifying to trust that it is okay to listen and then respond to your natural hunger.
 
I recovered from an eating disorder many years ago, but it has taken me longer to absolutely embrace my hunger without fear. For a while, I was still be guided by rules. Predictably, rules are meant to be broken and I would still tend to eat certain foods with a layer of guilt and foreboding attached to them; which really spoiled the enjoyment factor.
 
I am pleased to say that this has changed. Today I have already had 2 significant breakfasts and it is 11am. Once upon a time, I would have had to wait (even if hungry) because 2 breakfasts would have seemed greedy or unnecessary. If I had allowed myself to eat the foods I desired, my day would have felt unsettled from this point forwards.  Ironically though, once you really start to listen to your body (and this takes time), you often end up losing a couple of pounds because there is nothing to fight anymore. If I have the freedom to eat 2 snickers bars and a packet of crisps (or 2) at any given moment in the day; the appeal of it has lessened considerably. Nothing is banned anymore. It is no big deal!
 
What are your fears about hunger? I am sure you will have some. Maybe you worry that you will never get hungry and feel deprived?  Maybe you fear that you will just eat everything and anything? Understandably, if you have felt rule bound for a while, this is justifiable.
 
The first step to changing this is to tune in and begin to listen to your hunger. To start with, you might be really confused. How do I know? People feel their hunger differently – hollow tummy; feeling irritable; poor concentration; thoughts about food as examples. To feel confused is to be expected if you have been controlling your eating for a long time. See it as an experiment. It is about going back to you childhood self, where hopefully, most of us have some memory of feeling free with food. Eating to nourish, care and respond to the body’s needs. Sometimes eating lots; sometimes eating little, but guided by hunger.
 
Good luck and all the best.
 
Harriet
 



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