The Eat Happy approach to appetite

I want you to imagine you’re in a forest. A beautiful forest with trees all around, and it’s a nice sunny day. You’re standing in front of a pond. You’re watching the water, and you notice that sometimes maybe a bird dips down for a drink and the water ripples and moves. The wind blows and the water moves. Perhaps you throw a pebble into the water and it ripples and moves.

Imagine that you’re in front of this pond and you say “Okay pond, stop moving. Stop being affected by your environment!” And you’re angry at this pond, angry at the pond for influencing the pond, and again angry at the pond for allowing itself to be influenced by its environment.

Sounds silly. But that is the same thing as when we artificially try to restrict our appetite. When I say appetite, for today I mean our desire for food.

I want you first of all to accept that part of being a human being alive on planet earth means that you have an appetite. That you want food, that you’re going to get hungry, and that you need food to survive. There is absolutely nothing morally wrong with wanting to eat food.

In the weight loss world, we often feel guilty if we’re hungry. Like being hungry is some moral high ground or something. That’s such a damaging thing to believe! We need to accept that wanting food is part of being a human being.

Particularly as women, we need to learn accept the ebb and flow of our appetite. Just like that pond we imagined, that water is influenced by lots of things around it. Maybe there’s rain, or wind! There’s a lot that’s going to go on that will influence the stillness of the water. You can’t expect the water to sit and hold still.

Likewise, you should not expect yourself to maintain a consistent appetite from day to day, week to week, or year to year. You should expect that depending on your life circumstances; how old your kids are, how much sleep you get, if you’re on vacation, etc. – hundreds and thousands of things will affect if you want food, when you want food, how much food you want. And that changes all the time.

We need to accept that change. We cannot artificially restrict that through our willpower, that’s just how it is. It’s okay to want food! It’s okay to be hungry.

There will be days when you want to eat more food, and there will be days when you want less. Part of tuning in to your body wisdom is being aware of that. “Today I’m feeling more hungry than normal”, or “Today I’m craving junk food more than I normally do”. Then take that cue that your body is giving you.

Does your body really just want food? Then eat it. Or is there something deeper going on? Are you feeling some emptiness inside because you’re not getting enough love, so your body is calling out for love in the way it knows best: asking for more food.

There are a lot of things that go into our appetite, but the ground rule is to try not to stop or inhibit your appetite from giving you signals. It’s a divine system put into our bodies to help us care for ourselves. When I learned about appetite, that it was a normal, cool thing, I felt relieved! I don’t have to fight my desire for food anymore, and neither do you.

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