We have all heard expressions like “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels,” “You can never be too rich, too beautiful, or too thin,” and “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” If you have others, please share). They serve as mantras, reminders to be vigilant when our bodies and/or minds are yearning to be fed or filled or otherwise placated. They are reminders that by keeping ourselves in line, we can move infinitesimally closer to some ideal. Or they instill in us the fear that we will lose control, that we must white-knuckle it to keep the body we have now and not allow ourselves to drift from that place of control.
I am highly in favor of mantras and being aware of what drives hunger. Questioning whether it is physical or emotional in nature, and consciously acting rather than reacting. But these sayings reveal something darker about our relationships with food, weight, and our bodies. They reveal our struggle, our desire to conquer desire, our allegiance to self-improvement, competition, and comparison. An ongoing battle with the self, the body, and the mind.
A few things that I know well:
- Food tastes best when you are (moderately) hungry – denying yourself food when you are hungry, or eating when you are not hungry, won’t be as satisfying as feeding your body when it wants to be fed…and you deserve to feel satisfied! If it’s something else you are hungry for, notice that and, if possible, give that to yourself.
- The morality of food and weight is a useless fabrication – viewing foods as good and bad, battering yourself with shoulds (I should eat this, not that…I should not be hungry now), and vilifying your body have become shared delusions with zero benefits.
- It is possible to stop struggling – by looking at your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about food, hunger, and weight, you can begin to unravel the seemingly solid story that fuels this struggle. And you can begin to trust yourself and your body’s innate knowledge.
Keeping these three things in mind, it is possible to move closer to a self-acceptance that tastes better than anything out there.