Have you ever said to yourself “I shouldn’t be hungry right now!?!?”. When you said this to yourself did you add loads of judgment? With a great big “shouldn’t”, like your body is wrong for wanting more food?
You’re not alone in this. The dieting industry has done something really amazing—they’ve made us question our basic human needs. They’ve convinced us that our hunger signal is a problem. That it’s a weakness.
Let’s start with a quote from a guilty pleasure book that I’ve re-read a few times (okay, more than a few). From the wisdom of Bridget Jones: “I realized that I have spent so many years being on a diet that the idea that you might actually need calories to survive has been completely wiped out of my consciousness. Have reached point where (I) believe (the) nutritional ideal is to eat nothing at all, and that the only reason people eat is because they are so greedy they cannot stop themselves from breaking out and ruining their diets.”—Helen Fielding, from Bridget Jones’s Diary
The fictional character, Bridget, is summarizing an unconscious belief that many of us hold after years or decades of dieting. The dieting industry has bullied us into thinking that eating any food at all is a weakness.
But, of course, that’s not true. You need to eat food to fuel your body. Rationally, you know this. But, are you holding an unconscious belief that you shouldn’t eat?
Your body will send you a hunger signal if it needs food—it’s as simple as that. Your body might need food because it needs it for energy, a blood sugar crash or due to the time of day (my stomach alarm goes off at noon like clockwork). There’s always a reason for it, even if you can’t make sense of it.
I have days when I feel so much hungrier than normal and I feel like I’m eating all day long. But, when I stay curious and think about what might be going on, there’s usually an answer. Sometimes I was really active the day before. Sometimes it’s that certain day of my cycle when my body asks for more food. And sometimes it’s because my diet hasn’t been all that great for a few days and my body is looking for nutrients. There’s always a reason if I stay curious.
How the heck did the dieting industry get away with this? How did they convince us that our basic human needs are weaknesses? Oh yes, of course. They make billions of dollars lying to us. It serves them really well and they’ve got tons of marketing dollars and lobbyists to make sure they get away with this. Ugg.
For those of you who never feel a hunger signal, that’s also a gift from the dieting industry. After months or years of ignoring your hunger, your brain sometimes stops registering it. But that signal does come back, especially if you keep listening for it.
You might be feeling a bit frustrated by this because you feel your body can’t be trusted, that it only asks for food that’s “bad” and you’re in need of a giant diet overall.
Here’s the good news: your body doesn’t need you to make a giant overhaul to feel good. You don’t need to banish everything you love from your diet and only eat vegetables forever. And you don’t need to follow any complicated good/bad eating lists.
Instead, your body might need a simple addition to your diet. Maybe some extra nutrients would do the trick, like more veggies with lunch? Or a snack in the late afternoon so you have the energy to cook dinner. Really small and easy things can make a huge difference! Small changes work even when you feel like a giant overhaul is needed.
Small things really make a huge difference and the best place to start is the easiest thing. What is something you can do today that you feel 95% confident you can accomplish with very little energy?
So, let’s start 2023 a little differently than usual. Instead of pulling out all of the willpower you can get your hands on to follow a restrictive diet or make a huge diet overhaul, let this year become a year of kindness.
Your body doesn’t need to be fixed; it needs to be understood. Look for things you enjoy—you might just be surprised at how well it works.
And, if you need help, book yourself in for a free 30-minute consult with me or one of the other Nutritionists at Nature’s Fare. We can help you learn your body’s unique language and we can help you find simple changes that can make a huge difference.