We’re all born with a strong connection to and innate trust in our hunger cues, but diet culture and other experiences of trauma can disconnect us from those internal signals, to the point that we create a relationship of distrust between our brains and our bodies.
Over time, the more we ignore our hunger (or are unable to honor it for whatever reason), the more we erode our bodies’ abilities to trust us.
That’s why eating enough is so important in recovering from deprivation—because it helps our bodies learn to trust us again.
And by the way, even if you think you eat “too much” by way of bingeing, there’s actually an underlying environment of lack, of not-enough. Binge eating is a response to deprivation, not a matter of willpower.
So when you practice responding to your hunger at even the subtlest levels, every bite you take helps you heal from the trauma of deprivation.
It shows your body that it’s safe, that you’re no longer in a famine, and that it can start to relax around food.
What if you don’t have any hunger cues to honor? That actually means your body needs even more TLC, even more consistent eating, in order to come back from the deprivation that was imposed upon it.
It means your body was so deprived that it basically stopped even trying to get its needs met, like a neglected child who knows their cries won’t be heard.
So for you, too, the solution is showing your body that it won’t be deprived anymore, and that means eating consistent meals and snacks, even if you don’t feel hunger cues.
When you recover from deprivation in this way, slowly you’ll start to rebuild trust with your body, and eventually you’ll get back to the place of being able to recognize and honor your hunger the way you were born doing.
For all of us, the key to the process of healing from deprivation is feeding ourselves, both literally and figuratively:
Literally, you need to FEED YOURSELF FOOD—enough of it in general, and a wide enough variety that you can feel full, satisfied, content, and not deprived of the things your body needs and your mind wants.
And then figuratively, you need to feed yourself anti-diet resources to unlearn diet culture’s rules and re-learn how to feel and trust your body’s innate wisdom about food and movement.
You need to stop reflexively filling your mind with “diet food” and start nourishing it with truth.
When we consistently feed ourselves in these ways, we let our bodies and our brains know that we won't be depriving them of food any longer.
Once they trust us again, they can relax, and we can reclaim the peaceful relationship with food we were born with.
That’s what this week’s episode of Food Psych is all about.
It’s a repost of my conversation with Rachel Estapa, a size-acceptance advocate, yoga teacher, and the founder of More to Love Yoga.
We discuss the connection between physical and emotional hunger, why diet culture's promise to "fix" us is so alluring, and why rediscovering our true loves and desires in life is essential to recovery from dieting.
Rachel also shares how the practice of yoga helped show her the path to body liberation, how an acute illness led to an unexpected truce with her body, and lots more.
Tune in to the episode now to hear this great conversation—and if you're celebrating Labor Day today, I’m wishing you a happy one!
Here’s to honoring ALL your hungers,
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