When we diet there is the promise that by eating according to some trendy food plan we will lose weight and become spontaneously happy and healthy as we watch all of our problems vanishing with the extra pounds. In reality, what each diet that we undertake teaches us, is that we can no longer trust the innate wisdom of our body and that we must follow someone else’s idea of what our body needs in order to lose the weight.
After so many years of calorie restriction and losing and regaining weight, our bodies are just as confused as our minds are. Yo yo dieting causes metabolic imbalances and erratic fluctuations with blood sugar sending signals to our brain that are easily misinterpreted as a need for more sugary or salty foods. The lack of amino acids found in healthy proteins, causes decline in our neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, are chemicals that control our moods and give us a sense of well-being.
When we feel depressed and our blood sugar is too low, we are not likely going to make wise choices when eating. So, it is often useful to help guide my clients when it comes to healthy eating. But I want to stress here, that it’s not just about following someone else’s food guideline; it’s about learning to listen to your own body and understand what it’s trying to tell you.
If we could really listen to our body, I doubt if it would say “eat that carton of ice cream” or that pizza or that bag of cookies or chips. No, your body would probably say, “I need energy or fuel now” and “I need protein or vegetables or healthy fats”. Or rest, love or water. Sometimes my clients will tell me that they have been craving red meat and it surprises them because they rarely (if ever) eat meat. When I hear that, I often suspect anemia or low iron levels and if I check their blood iron levels, it usually confirms that. That’s an example of listening to the body’s wisdom.
Diets teach us to stay in our heads and not be in our bodies. Diets basically cut us off at the neck; it is our head or mind that dictates what and when and how we should eat. But learning to be in our bodies and tapping into its wisdom is a much more profound and empowered way of living.
How do we get into our bodies? What does that really mean? In my course, Break Free from Abusive Eating™, I teach different techniques to help us move back into harmony with our bodies, to listen to our bodies, to feel the feelings and signals that our bodies are giving us and help interpret what those signals mean. It is a re-learning.
Listening to your body and honoring your body is more than simply choosing the right kinds or amounts of foods. It’s about self love and self care. Your body is your temple; it is more than a physical structure that needs to be fed, clothed and rested. Without a body, we wouldn’t have the capacity to experience the world in the ways that we do – to smell, see and taste, to hear, to listen to our inner knowing, to sense a deep and profound wisdom.
One of the practices that Raphael shared with us at the workshop on Embodied Spirituality, was using dance to get back into our bodies. He would improvise the most beautiful music as we danced and moved to it. His music sent us soaring yet kept us fully alive and present in our bodies.
The following quote from Kutira and Raphael sums it up nicely:
The embodiment of our spirituality is a homecoming to deepen our sense of being and activates the unique signature of our inner wisdom of body and mind.