When was the last time you asked your body what she (or he) thought about the food that you were about to put into it?
When was the last time you paused, in the middle of a meal, and thought about how the food was making you feel?
If there’s one thing I notice a lot about the national conversation about eating, food, and weight, it is just that: the conversation. Lots of thoughts and ideas and bullet points. Lots of arguing about which expert or superstar or framework is right.
Lots of brain-based stuff.
And look, our brains are incredibly powerful, wonderful things. Your amazing brain probably got you through college or landed you a great job. Your smart brain was the thing that had an amazing idea in a meeting, that got you a raise and a promotion.
Throughout your life you have trained your brain, you have been rewarded based on your brain.
But when it comes to making decisions about food, weight, and our bodies, if your brain is your only source of knowing, you are often going to end up frustrated, confused, overwhelmed, and insecure.
Because you’ll be missing a crucial piece: your body.
I know how wacky this might sound. I was in school for 17 years, and no one ever taught me a course on “following my body’s wisdom,” though I did learn about Middle Eastern Politics, Art History, and Calculus. I don’t even hear people talking about “listening to your body” when they talk about the obesity problem in the US — I just hear a lot of “eating guidelines” and “exercise recommendations.” In other words, a lot of brain-based stuff.
But what if your body was the crucial, missing link in developing a sane, happy, relationship with food, eating, and your body?
I mean, think about it, how crazy is it that we make decisions about what food to eat, how much to eat, and more — decisions that are going to directly impact our bodies and how we physically feel — without consulting our bodies?
I’ll admit, this whole “listening to your body” thing isn’t an easy process, and it’s not talked about much. In fact, it’s so hard that I spend a ton of time on it with my clients; it’s challenging and sometimes overwhelming.
But what if, instead of trying to learn Spanish or "Presenting with Impact" (a course I literally took in my corporate days), you focused your communication efforts on becoming fluent in your very own body?
What if, when you were about to eat, you said, Hey body, what would you like today?
What if, when you were in the middle of a meal you said, Is this food still serving you? Or do you want something else? How much?
What if, at the end of a meal, you asked, How do you feel right now?
So that’s my challenge to you this week. For one meal, or one day, or even the whole week, experiment with letting your body run the show and be the primary decision-maker about what, when, and how much to eat.
And notice what happens: Does it feel scary to dial down the volume on your brain just a little bit, and turn to your body to make food-based decisions? Is the volume really low and hard to hear? That’s normal if you’re not used to doing this. How does it feel after you’ve done it a few times?
I'd love it if you could let me know how it goes for you in the comments! But either way, have a lovely, lovely week.