I remember I had a boyfriend who would eat every time he felt that something was not right in his body. At the slight hint of a need ~ any need, the slightest message of imbalance, he would conclude that his body must need a snack.
We laughed about this, because by that time, he had already become aware of it. He joked, as if talking to his own body, “Tired? Need exercise? Time outside? I think I’ll have a snack. That should do it.”
I laughed, because I could totally relate!
Density and Sensitivity
What I realized in that moment is that my sensitivity to my body’s cues was really dulled, dense you could call it.
So the primary way I had of finding balance at any hint of imbalance was eating.
I must have learned this along the way somewhere, either in my childhood, or through my genes. My grandparents lived in Russia during the second world war, and experienced starvation and the very real lack of food.
Maybe somewhere deep in my cells is the fear that if I don’t eat a surplus of food now, there might not be any later.
I also grew up in a big city, where de-sensitization is key for survival. For instance, can you imagine being on a packed Subway and allowing yourself to feel everything? Every negative emotion someone on the train has, every violation of your personal space?
Sounds like a recipe for insanity.
In this case, I think becoming somewhat “dulled” and “dense” can be an effective way for us to survive tough situations.
Unfortunately, it ends up creating more problems if we stay tough and protected.
The Journey Towards Re-Sensitization
After that talk with my boyfriend at the time, I started to consciously sensitize myself to my body’s needs.
One of the main reasons I find that people overeat is the “midday slump.” Are you familiar? It’s after lunchtime, maybe 2 or 3 o’clock, and you start to feel like you absolutely cannot make it through the day unless you have something to eat?
Perhaps something sweet and/or delivering some caffeine?
Well, I decided to do something radical. I realized that the reason I had a slump in the middle of the day was that I was tired. Genuinely exhausted from working all morning. So instead of eating when I had that midday slump, I started taking naps.
Now, I realize that it doesn’t seem possible for everyone to nap in the afternoon, but there are laws that require most employers to allow their employees a certain amount of break time throughout the day, and though it isn’t common practice, putting your head down on your desk for fifteen minutes can give you that rejuvenation that you need more effectively than a doughnut or a muffin or a latte.
The point is, addressing the need itself rather than putting a bandaid on it by eating.
Are You Hydrated?
Another major factor in how energetic we feel is how much hydration is available to our cells.
Have you ever had the experience of drinking a tall glass of water and immediately feeling better? Maybe you can’t even put your finger on exactly how you feel better, but you know that you’re a little more upright than you were a minute ago.
The best thing to do is to stay hydrated all day (there are several guidelines for this, my favorite being to drink half your body weight in ounces per day), but that can be a tall order. If you feel yourself slumping, try drinking a tall glass of water*, and then another one, and then (a few minutes later) decide if you still need a midday snack.
*Hint: This also works if you feel yourself starting to fall into a bad mood or feeling emotional.
The other major nutrient for our cells is oxygen. Oxygen, sunlight, plus many other ingredients we have not named, together equal the transformational power of being outdoors.
You don’t have to be an “outdoors person.” Spending time in the elements is regenerating for everyone, and if you do it regularly, at least 20 minutes per day every day (during daylight hours) you are sure to notice a difference.
The midday slump is a perfect time to go for a walk, even if it is around the office condo complex. Remember, you are still under the same sky as you would be if you were in the Amazon.
Of course, your body has other needs. The most glaring one is Love. Not necessarily from a partner!
The love of camaraderie with a true friend, parent, sibling, son or daughter, is food for us on a deep level. When this need is met, you may very well find that your need for food diminishes naturally!
Touch is one of the five Love Languages that is scientifically observed to be deeply emotionally healing. I make a point to touch, usually on the shoulder or back, random people outside, for instance if I need to ask someone to move because I am coming through behind them on a plane, I always touch at the same time as I say, “Excuse me.”
Some people jump, or startle. That to me is a testament to how unused we are to being touched!
What gets exchanged in that seemingly small gesture is a wave of energy. Like a car at the gas station, the touch of others can fill you up.
And vice versa, you are capable of re-filling another human being’s need for touch and love!
If you feel a lack of this in your life, do not wait. Start bestowing it on others! Give love and touch in respectful, non-sexual ways with the message that you don’t want anything in return, and you will feel your gas tank miraculously start to fill.
The Needs in the Moment
Sensitizing yourself to your body’s needs requires living in the moment. Since you are not a computer, but an organism, your needs will change from day to day.
As the seasons change, so too our needs change. From day to day, moment to moment.
This reminds us of the ingredient of staying present, which I discuss in other articles (LINK TO WHAT”S YOUR BODY GOT TO DO WITH IT?”
With practice, you and your body will develop a wonderful friendship!