“The woman who seeks to end her inner famine needs to find the name of her hunger, for it is only by naming her hunger that she can be fed.” – Dr. Anita Johnston
Today’s article comes from a recent conversation with a fellow colleague, where we honestly shared about our journey towards food freedom and we went deep into what was really behind our hunger at a time when the relationship with food was way more complicated than it is now.
As Dr. Anita Johnston beautifully explains in her book ‘Eating in the Light of the Moon’:
“To learn the name of her hunger, [a woman] must journey back into the past from where she came, cross the giant empty plains of her life, travel deep into the jungle of her mind, find the place near the river of feelings where her inner authority rules, and ask, “What is the name of my hunger?”
The answer to this question, “What is the name of my hunger?”, is very personal because we all have our unique story. So, I encourage you to keep asking yourself this question over and over again.
The reason I got inspired by the conversation with my colleague is because she brought my attention to a different and powerful key to understand binges, which doesn’t get mentioned very often.
A different kind of name for one’s hunger that we don’t talk about enough.
Many times you might have heard me talking about binges being pushed by the desire to numb, “not to feel” something…loneliness, sadness, grief. Or a way to withdraw from a situation that’s too challenging and we don’t quite know how to deal with.
And that’s true in many cases.
However, binges may also develop out of the need to feel something and for your body to affirm its presence and needs.
Mmm…interesting, isn’t it?
Let’s go deeper into this with some examples.
Perhaps you feel disconnected from your body.
You find it hard to feel your body, its sensations.
A few examples of those sensations can range from feeling you hunger & fullness, sensual pleasure, feeling your breath from within or even thirst in some cases.
Also, being able to recognise tiredness and feel it in your body, when it’s time to go to bed and sleep as opposed to just sit down.
Anything that connects to the idea of you being on autopilot and just living your day without much connection with your body or feeling very little pleasure in your body, can potentially offer a key to understand your binges.
How might this be?
When you feel disconnected from the sensations of your body, it is more difficult to focus on self-care, to really stop and give your body what it needs. However, when you don’t regularly attend to your basic body needs, the body is going to reclaim its space to be felt at some point.
Or if you’ve experienced some form of trauma in the past, your desire to shield yourself from the consequent pain may have brought you to disconnect from your body which keeps the memory of that trauma.
But, again, the body tries to find a way to be felt and listened to.
One way could be through physical pain, muscular tension in certain parts of your body which you don’t quite understand the cause, or extreme fatigue.
Another way for your body to be heard could be by eating to the point that your stomach is stretched to the limit, or you get heartburn, for example, allowing yourself to finally feel something about your body.
I’m not saying it’s the answer to your own way of experiencing food, but it’s one of the many lens through which you can look at your binges with an open, curious mind, and see if that might apply to you.
It’s certainly worth a try, especially if you have a history of disordered eating, alternating restriction & dieting with moments of ‘clean eating’, cleanses, detoxes and then ending up bingeing.
in front of pen and paper, and with compassion, go back to the question: What is the name of my hunger?
- What comes out for you as you ask yourself this question?
- What can you do now to start feeding that source of hunger?
Maybe there’s lack of pleasure of satisfaction in your life.
Another point I want to make here is that if there’s lack of pleasure and satisfaction in your life, food might become the only option left for your body to feel that pleasure and satisfaction.
Food might just be the thing you look forward to the most right now, which is also (not for all but for many of us) easily and abundantly available, making it an easy choice to go for.
Again, pleasure and satisfaction are felt in the body. They manifest through physical sensations in your body, changes in your heart rate, body temperature and chemical reactions that give you that “feel good” sensation.
If pleasure is lacking in your life at the moment, your body may find in food a perfect replacement to feel that pleasure.
Ask yourself then:
- What are other ways that bring joy and pleasure into my life?
- How do they make me feel?
- Where in my body do I feel them?
Don’t forget to look for the little things that count for a great deal, like a coffee cup with a friend, or 1 hour just for yourself to nap or read.
That’s it for today! Hope you enjoyed reading this one and that it helped somehow.
Feel free to share your thoughts, experience, or anything that came up for you while reading this in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
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