Becoming Aware of Your Body’s Wants and Needs
While I was in recovery, one of the most important aspects that I had to grasp was being able to recognize my body’s wants and needs. I’d ask myself questions like, “Is this a necessity, or an indulgence?” I’d take every opportunity to connect with my body and get clear on what it was trying to tell me. We go most of our lives completely oblivious to what our is body actually craving. We numb ourselves with food because we’re afraid of feeling… And we’re afraid of listening.
Becoming Aware of Your Body’s Needs
Finding alignment in your body doesn’t have to be a struggle. It can be free and flowing as you continue to grow in awareness of what it means to need something and what it means to want something. Here are a few examples that might generate some inspiration for you to start thinking with this mindset.
- Wanting bread is a good sign that your body needs chloride, one of the most important electrolytes in the blood. Try giving your body want it needs by opting to eat celery or onions instead. We may be craving bread, but in reality, we’ve just conditioned our minds to think bread is our only source of chloride (as an example). You can reprogram your thoughts to reflect the truth behind what your body actually needs.
- Wanting a soda could mean that your body needs calcium. Instead of giving in to the thought of wanting a pop, fill the need with leafy greens like kale or mustards. Again, we’ve programmed ourselves all of our lives to think one way, but we have the power to change the direction of those thoughts to reflect what serves us best in each moment.
- Few things are as comforting and satisfying than chocolate. But, when you’re feeling like you need some, it’s likely that your body is telling you that it needs magnesium (go ahead, give it a Google search). Give your body what it needs through other means, perhaps an avocado or a banana – both are superfoods that can meet your need for magnesium.
Of course, if you’ve been following my story and blogs here for a while on Recovery.org, you are aware that I love my food. I am an advocate for mindful and intuitive eating and have blogged on the topics in the past. I truly believe that you have to be responsible for the food you eat, but that doesn’t mean you need to jump on the next diet fad or deprive yourself of your favorite food. That’s not what life is about. But, you do need to listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. When you’re in need of something critical for your body to function properly, you must adhere to your body’s needs. You and your body are on the same team, rooting for one another. Don’t make it hard.
Tapping into Your Pain
When it comes to recovery and understanding that you are in complete control of your body and your behavior, you begin to step into the story that you are the only one in charge of yourself. Your body and your behavior are linked directly to one another. We’re mostly all aware of what stress does to our bodies, right? It can bring about depressive episodes, anxiety, disordered eating, and other serious consequences. It’s the same when we avoid or resist things. Acknowledging pain is part of understanding what your body needs. Pain has its meaning and tapping into that meaning and transforming what the pain once meant can lead to some pretty profound realizations.
Here are a few quick reasons why tapping into your pain can be transformative…
- Pain can help you recognize and boost your ability to experience happiness and pleasure. Acceptance of your pain is the path to liberation and creates the opportunity to fully recognize and appreciate the lessons that come from pain.
- Pain is a catalyst to your awareness. It expands your world and can help you focus on what’s really going on in the moment.
Recognizing and moving through pain (not avoiding it) is a way to gain access to what your body is trying to tell you (ie. what your body needs). Happiness isn’t the absence of pain, rather, embracing and releasing pain is the key to experiencing and learning to create a happier existence. Pain is your body’s way of communicating with you. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge the underlying driving the behavior that is often times the primary cause of the pain.
As you become aware of why you do things, through experience and pain acceptance, you further recognize repeat behaviors and can choose to change. It’s all part of the process during recovery. Self-awareness of your binge eating tendencies opens you up to the possibility of seeing this behavior in a new light and being compassionate toward yourself. Frequently, there is a fundamental reason attached to our behaviors. Think back to your childhood, where are the links to trauma and/or pain that could have led to binge eating? Our past can be a direct indication of the pain and behaviors associated with why we do and act in the ways we do.
Awareness leads to forgiveness. Forgiveness leads to acceptance.
We’re living in an age now where self-help is the new norm. We’re constantly striving to be better than everyone and everything which constantly leaves us unsatisfied. This is usually because we are using these tactics as an escape from the truth versus going all in and coming face to face with our struggles, our limiting beliefs, and our insecurities. The self-help industry markets to our insecurities. There is no ‘one size fits all’ recovery path, and there is definitely no one size fits all cure to pain. Only you can know your body enough to truly connect with what it needs and how you can get those needs met. Not some book, not some lecture, but you. Obviously, thought leaders, tools, and tactics can be beneficial, but you can’t depend on others to figure life out for you.
You are your best teacher.
You can’t diet yourself out of binge eating. You can’t expect to read every self-help book on the market and be cured. You are your best teacher and your worst critic. Find compassion for yourself and recognize that you’re further along than you think.
You’ve got this.