I am incredibly privileged to support womxn working on building a healthier relationship to food and their body. Whilst this journey is as unique as the humans experiencing it, there is one common thread.
And I thought it may be helpful for you to consider this aspect for yourself.
Where body trust can show up:
- Honouring and acting on hunger signals no matter when they arise
- Sensing and relying on fullness signals
- Feeling free to explore and notice how different foods feel
- Believing your body is good
- Not being concerned with other's beliefs around food
- Being confident in when to rest and when to push
- Feeding the body in ways that honour complex and varying needs
- Moving your body for challenge and for enjoyment
What do you think? Does that land for you? Do you feel far away from this body trust?
Exploring how we have body trust, and what interrupts that can be helpful.
First up, we are all born with it. Born knowing and trusting our own bodies. And what interrupts that is varied and unique. It's also pause for compassion too. Compassion for our caregivers who with well-meaning intention, may have asked us to finish all the food on our plate when we knew we didn't need to eat more. Caregivers who may have withheld more food when we needed it. Caregivers who used our bodies against us. Caregivers who grew up with the same dynamics of interruption to body trust and do the best they know.
On a macro level, the interruption to body trust is diet culture - created and fed by white supremacy, capitalism, healthism, fatphobia and the patriarchy. And other social determinants of health are part of this conversation too. For instance those who've experienced food insecurity may find it harder to connect with body trust in relation to binge eating patterns. These macro interruptions are everywhere. In healthcare, in schools, in workplaces, in media.
On a micro level, this is most often experienced by participating in some form of body "fixing." Whereby following a calorie-controlled meal plan teaches us to ignore and override our body's own signals of hunger, fullness, satisfaction etc. The more we do this, the less trust we have with our bodies. Hence why leaving a weight-focused or diet behind can seem terrifying to some. If when learning about Intuitive Eating, someone asks "won't I just eat chocolate all day," what's being reflected in that question is their very understandable lack of body trust. *And no you won't eat chocolate all day.
So now to come back to how we build body trust once more.
We do so with consistent, ongoing and patient practice. Each of us will have a different journey back, though it is possible with the right tools and support.
Just like by overriding our body's signals, they become less pronounced, the opposite is true as well. You can think of it like muscle memory when doing physical activity. The more we do it, the easier it becomes. We initially give it focused attention, just like anything new, and over time it becomes more unconscious and trusting.
Whilst there's no one ideal place to begin, connecting to your body's signals, discerning their differences and honouring them can be a helpful starting point. This can include noticing and acting upon signals such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, full bladder and stress. Remembering that each time a signal is acknowledged and supported, the link is strengthened. And no amount of learning can do this work for you. It's a felt experience living in your body that builds that trust over time.
Wherever you are, be kind and compassionate with yourself. Nothing is broken or your fault. And your body is a treasure trove of information that you can learn to connect with should you choose. You also don't need to do this alone and the right professional support with not only speed up the process for you, though likely feel more pleasant as well.
Interested in my spelling of womxn? This spelling (and I), acknowledge all femme-presenting folks inclusive in the term. You can read more about it here.