Ever been around a toddler wanting your attention? What does this have to do with knowing when you’re hungry? I’ll tell you- just keep reading.
When my sons want my attention, sometimes they start off quietly. Often with a, “Mom… Mommy… Mamma…” But if I don’t respond within a few seconds, their voices escalate. The pitch gets higher, speech more rapid, and volume much louder. What started as a simple, “mom,” quickly becomes a, “MOOOOMMMMMMYYY!!!“
Trying to Get My Attention
If they still don’t have my full attention, they’ll come closer to me. Often right up in my face. They may climb on me, yell in my ear, or even wave their hands in front of my eyes. They’ll literally do anything to get my attention.
When Your Body is Hungry
Your body is not unlike a toddler trying to communicate a need.
Our bodies need food to stay alive. They need energy and fuel to keep our organs running, help our brain function, and allow us to move through our days.
The problem is, often we don’t listen to our bodies.
When your stomach’s growling- that’s NOT the first signal your body’s sent. Stomach growling is like a toddler screaming in your face to get your attention. Your body wants to be heard, and feels like you’re ignoring her/him.
Typically your body has sent you many signals before you feel the growl in your stomach.
Early Signs You’re Hungry
So when your body’s yelling she’s hungry (by growling), it means you’ve missed the earlier whispers she’s sent. Every person’s body is different. It’s your job to pay attention, to listen, and to learn the signals your body sends.
For some, the first signal you’re hungry is mental hunger. Put simply- this means thinking about food. YES, you read that right.
Thinking about food could be the very first signal your body sends to tell you that you’re hungry.
So what are other possible signals you’re getting hungry? You may feel saliva in your mouth. Or a dip in energy. Even a slight headache. Perhaps you notice it’s suddenly difficult to focus or concentrate.
Remember, everyone’s body sends messages they’re hungry in their unique way. The key is to be listening.
Listening and Responding
The very first step to healing your relationship with food and body, begins with listening. It takes time, practice, patience, and dedication. Sometimes it takes extra support. But learning to hear your body’s signals is possible.
The second step, of course, is responding to the signals your body sends. When she tells you “I’m hungry,” your job is to respond by feeding her. If not, she’ll amp up the signals even louder.
When You’re Hungry But Don’t Respond
So what happens when you ignore the signals your body’s sending? There are several possibilities. Thinking obsessively about food will most likely occur. Your body will do everything she can to get in nourishment. When you’re hungry, her mission is to get food. For survival.
Feeling out of control with food is a common experience when you ignore hunger.
Binging is another typical result of not eating enough food. Again, it’s your body’s way of surviving. Our brains are hardwired to seek out food and to avoid famine. It’s literally how humans have survived throughout history. When you’re hungry and underfed, your body and brain’s sole focus is to get food and eat it.
Sometimes when we ignore our hunger long enough, our bodies lose trust in us. We may even stop hearing the signals. A toddler throwing a tantrum may eventually “give up” if they’re ignored for too long. It’s not uncommon for dieters or people who struggle with disordered eating to feel out of touch with hunger.
Why Don’t We Listen?
When our bodies tell us we’re hungry, why don’t we always listen? Sadly our culture is focused on shrinking our bodies in the name of “health.” Too many of us are taught to ignore our body’s signals. Our bodies are powerful though, and this often results in a battle. Fighting our bodies is exhausting. And a battle too many of us spend years in.
We’re all born connected to our bodies. Listening to your body is innate. Sadly diet culture erodes this intuitive connection. This inner knowing. But it IS there. Even if you can’t remember a time you were in tune with your body, it’s possible to reconnect to her. And the first step to this connection is listening.
Will You Listen?
So the next time your body signals you’re hungry- what will you do? Will you ignore her? Or will you honor your body by feeding her the nourishment she needs to move your soul through this lifetime?