This article was recently published on Cameron Diaz’s site, The Body Book. Thanks for reading! <3
Being hungry is sexy. There, I said it.
In my work, I spend time with beautiful women, and we talk about hunger. We talk about how it has expanded throughout their lives in ways that feel scary; with its potential to make their bodies (and lives?) large and unruly. They fear where their hunger might take them, and because of this, they attempt to curb it.
I propose that we have it backwards. Rather than fear our hunger, let’s love it! Let’s embrace it like the biggest gift we’ve been given: this precious life. Experiencing hunger means being alive. And, being alive is sexy, ladies!
We are often told to focus not on what we eat, but rather on suppressing and blocking awareness of the very mechanism that keeps us alive; bingo! You guessed it: our hunger.
In an age of zero-calorie snacks, diet pills, eating disorders and addictive sugary concoctions available everywhere, we are told that we are broken – that we have a reason to feel badly. This innate urge (I dare say, gift) was born when we were. So, it isn’t that our signals are broken, but rather the industry creating processed crap that we can easily access to meet our urge. Philosopher Krishnamurti said, “It is no sign of great health to be well adjusted to a sick society.”
When we feed ourselves well when we are hungry, life becomes more simple. What we aren’t told is that the best way to “curb” our hunger, is to (gasp!) eat. Often, the thing we fear doesn’t happen, we don’t become obsessed with food or gain a bazillion pounds. We stop when we are full because we know that we can always get more when we need it. Can we pause and marvel at what a gift thatis? Knowing there is more food when we need it? What a luxury.
Let’s understand the physiology of hunger: we eat to live. Our body is an incredible animal, it wants to be strong, and food is an amazing tool. Can you imagine apologizing for putting gas in your car after a busy day of driving? Everyone would assume you were joking. But, as eaters, we often have this guilt – that we are doing something wrong by filling our tank. So, let’s embrace the magic that is our metabolism, the way our bodies use fuel to stay alive. It is by eating that we say yes to life. Each bite, an affirmation of our existence.
Howard Thurman’s words ring so true on the topic of aliveness, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Aka: hungry women get shit done.
There is a parallel between the acceptance of our hunger, and the ways we validate our desires off the plate, too. By permitting ourselves to feel hungry, we also allow ourselves to simply want; to pine for more in our lives. There are so many non-food ways to be fed! We want intellectual nourishment and financial abundance. We want creativity bursts and spiritual sustenance. We want adventure and we want it now. Sometimes instead of a brownie, we just need a hug.
So, my question for us gals is: How can we celebrate our heart’s longings? Let’s find the hungry part and give it value, let it be our leader, guiding the way.
Here are three questions for a hungry babe:
Is this emotional or physical hunger? Physical hunger comes on slowly, below the mouth (with stomach or low energy cues), and is for nourishing hearty meals. Emotional hunger comes on quickly, and often in the mouth only, with a desire for unhealthy or comfort foods. Once we know the source of our hunger, we can feed ourselves appropriately.
How do I want to feel? In the wake of Danielle Laporte’s brilliant work on desire, I love to use her iconic question as a compass for all areas of life. Whenever you are sitting down with a menu, or walking the aisles of your grocery store, feel free to stop and take a breath, close your eyes and ask yourself this question. If you wanna feel “strong” in your life, ask yourself: If I eat these chips, are they likely to trigger the feeling of “ strong” in me? What about this stir fry?” It’s an easy no-shame barometer for eating in tune and in love with yourself.
Can I let it go? Once you make a decision, let yourself enjoy it. As in, sometimes we can make our own smoothie with organic kale from our garden and other days we nom some cashews at a gas station. I consider both a victory. Make the choice and then get back to your fabulous life.
photo credits: Andrea Larson