Updated: Feb 24
So - whose rules are you living by? Is your immediate answer, ‘MY rules!?’ So then, when I ask you, ‘When it comes to FOOD and EATING, whose rules do you live by?’ Is your answer the same?
Be honest here, Dear One; are you living by someone else’s rules, society’s rules, or perhaps, they truly are your own rules, your own regulations that you’ve put around eating; the ones that tell you to only eat at certain times of the day, to only eat a certain amount of calories, or how about cleaning your plate, that’s one many of us have heard. Don’t eat fried foods, drink lemon water first thing in the morning, don’t eat sugar. Eat low carbs. No fats. Restrict this, limit that; you know the list goes on and on. To this I say, ‘Rules schmules!’
When you stop to look at these rules, can you see how they take you away from your own body - from yourself? When we hold so tight to rules, there is no space for us to honour our own rhythm, or intuition, or even our own knowing of what it is we need and desire in that very moment.
Actually, it doesn’t even matter whose rules they are - if we are so driven to stick to a list of regulations, then we give up the connection to our innate wisdom, our bodies, and more specifically, our stomachs/guts. These creatures are so wise, and they communicate with us constantly. They tell us what they need; they tell us when they are hungry and ready for food, they tell us when they’ve had enough and are satisfied; not rules.
Do you actually respect the whispers of your gut? Can you even hear the whispers, or have you covered them up and numbed them out with rule-based, mindless eating - rule-based restriction which will ultimately lead to binging? Do you leave space for hearing your unique gut wisdom, or do you allow the rules to speak louder and take over?
Ever Changing Rules...
Check it out, ever notice how rules change anyway? Sometimes studies show that eating a low-carb diet increases, blah, blah, blah. Other times studies show that a nightly glass of red wine improves, blah, blah, blah; then the next one is telling you to eat your veggies, but not the shade veggies, not the white potatoes, don’t eat after 7pm - it’s overwhelming and just not sustainable to attach ourselves to ever changing rules that affect each individual human being differently. No one human being is the same. We have individual needs that ebb and flow. Living a life full of rigid rules is hard to do; and let’s face it, Darlin’, it’s just not fun! Our situations change on the daily. Our locations change, our moods change. How can we expect to live in balance and connected to ourselves if we only eat when the clock tells us it’s time, or eating when the crowd says it’s lunchtime even though you are not even hungry in that moment?
As I write this, I am in rural America and what’s available to me on the daily is different from what I am offered when I’m in Paris. No way would it be realistic for me to maintain a set of rules in such different locations. That stresses me out and leads to out of order eating and misalignment. However, when I allow myself the freedom to be open to what’s around me and listen to my body, to my hunger and feed it when I’m called to, then I am in harmony with my surroundings and with myself.
What's your first reaction when someone tells you, ‘Don’t do that!?' ‘Don’t eat that, you can’t have that!?’ I know for me, I want it more than ever and I’m going to make sure I get plenty of it, so all of the rules go out the window anyway! I rebel. Our brains are wired to rebel.
For years, I have restricted myself of certain foods because I believed they were ‘bad’ for me and that my body couldn't tolerate certain ingredients. You know what that leads to - first of all, it led to mega fear around food and social gatherings where food was present; and ultimately, these restrictions led to binges. I spent so long denying my body and not giving it what it was asking for because of the rules and limitations I had allowed myself to believe. I had put my body into a state of deprivation and a belief that it couldn’t have that food anymore.
Ah, and It’s just not true. My stomach, our stomachs, can handle so much more than our fears allow. What if I told you that you can eat anything you want? Seriously, imagine a plate of your favourite foods, really, take a moment here and conjure up the image of the foods you tell yourself you can’t have, or the ones you’ve told yourself you can have only a tiny bite because they are ‘bad for you.’
What’s the feeling(s) this brings in your gut? A tightness, a longing, tension? Yea, Sweet One, I get that, that’s what it was for me.
So now, imagine that you allow yourself to start eating the foods on the plate. Can you stop at just one cookie or biscuit? Can you leave the plate with food on it, or do you eat everything because you’re afraid you’ll never get to have it again? Take a breath and sit with this image and the feelings that are coming up for you.
So now, let’s shift this a bit. Envision the same plate of your favourite ‘forbidden’ foods, and this time tell yourself, ‘Yes, I can have any of that if I want it.’ I can have any of that anytime I want, and it doesn’t even have to be right now.’ ‘I can wait until I’m truly hungry and will enjoy it when I’m ready.’
Do you feel the difference here? The allowance vs. restriction?
The cool, calm feeling of... choice, vs. the frantic feeling of never having it again? Like, ‘Yea, I can have that if I choose to.’ ‘When I choose to.’ and by leaving the overall rules and restrictions out of it, there is no need for the binge. Win-Win!! You know you get to have whatever you choose, when your body is ready to have it. That is choice. There is nothing to rebel against. So powerful.
Rigid Rules vs. Flexible Boundaries...
It’s actually inappropriate to take in other’s rules for us especially around eating. As each person, each body, and each day is different, there is no hard set rule that one can be expected to follow. It’s quite unfair to expect that. You see, our bodies desire variety. Some days my body really desires veggies and protein, and I honour that. Some days my body doesn’t want any food; other times, my body totally wants the freakin’ donut and that’s o.k. because if I’m truly giving my body what it calls for, then I am in alignment and in balance with MY body; MY gut. I roll with flexibility.
Now I’m not saying go stuff yourselves with all the things, that doesn’t honour your body either and let’s be honest, it just doesn’t feel good. As long as you respect your stomach’s natural, flexible boundaries and eat when it is truly calling for food, when it’s truly hungry, then your stomach is prepared to digest what you give it. This is balance. To hear your gut call for food. This is connection.
We are the only ones to know when we are truly hungry. No outside source can tell us that, and it's up to us to listen and to honestly give our bodies what they ask for when they ask.
Oh, if you can release the rules around eating and open yourself to a life of options and flexibility, and listening to your own inner wisdom, then this is where fulfillment will happen for you. This is where freedom exists. So I encourage you, Dear One, drop the rules and honour YOURself, honour what YOUR gut is saying to YOU. Your gut will thank you - and you will hear it.
With much love,
~ C. xx