Reclaiming Body Trust
This month marks the 8th Anniversary of Be Nourished! We cannot believe we’ve been helping people, primarily women, show up in a very radical way with themselves for EIGHT years. Our groups and workshops have morphed and changed over time. We’ve led four-week groups to introduce people to the idea of conscious (or mindful) eating, eight-week groups to explore the principles of Intuitive Eating, and a 12-week program titled Making Peace with your Body. We’ve had two-part body image workshops and a few weekend retreats. We’ve given lots of free talks about our non-diet approach to food, weight, and health. We’ve helped hundreds of women let go of their preoccupation with food and weight. We’ve learned so much from you along the way.
After all these years, what we’ve discovered is that body trust is the beating heart of this work. To heal your relationship with your body, you must reclaim body trust. It is your birthright! You were literally born with it. Well meaning parents, the medical establishment, a toxic culture, trauma, and dieting behaviors are just some of the things that make us less trusting of our bodies as we age.
We end up turning away from our bodies.
We walk around like floating heads in the world, completely cut off from our body, disconnected from the inherent wisdom that is always available to us. All we have to do is listen.
Because the body knows before we know. Feelings are messengers. Hunger cues are messengers. Physical pain is a messenger. Illness is a messenger. And you know what they say – you don’t shoot the messenger! In her book The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd wrote,
“The body knows things a long time before the mind catches up to them. I was wondering what my body knew that I didn’t.”
The kind of transformation we talk about doesn’t just happen in the head. To regain the trust that is your birthright, start by turning towards your body and listening with kindness and curiosity.
Healing is a process, not an event. Regaining trust when it has been lost takes time and is not all that different from how we rebuild trust in any other relationship.
It requires open communication between you and your body: checking in regularly, acknowledging what is needed, and acting accordingly. And something important to remember is that this trust is reciprocal. Right now, you don’t trust your body and your body doesn’t trust you. For example, your body doesn’t know that you are choosing not to eat when you feel hungry. It thinks food isn’t available and doesn’t trust that it will get enough to eat. So when food becomes available, you overeat because your body is just trying to get its needs met. But over time, with consistent practice and a variety of meaningful experiences, the relationship heals and eating normalizes.
When I was preparing to write this article, I posted a request on Facebook asking my friends for some advice on how we rebuild trust when it is lost. Here are some of my favorite responses:
- Time and love, LOTS of love
- If there is no love, you wouldn’t even want to try
- Transparency, a willingness to be vulnerable, and clear (and realistic) expectations paired with ongoing communication
- An awareness that trust was broken in the first place
- A willingness to surrender to what the journey brings along the way
- Connecting to something bigger than what was broken and focusing your energy and efforts on that
- Remembering that there is a deeper learning happening inside
- Faith in the process; believing in ourselves
- Releasing fear and choosing love, over and over again
Unfortunately, the magic happens outside of our comfort zone. The good news is there is so much more to be gained from trusting than not trusting. And when we get really honest with ourselves, what really feels more vulnerable – trusting or not trusting?
Imagine what might happen if you got together with your friends and talked about trusting your body instead of fixing it?
Dana Sturtevant is a registered dietitian, certified yoga teacher, and self-proclaimed foodie. She especially enjoys blogging about mindfulness, yoga, Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size®, and the Slow Food Movement.