When my son was a baby, and I a new mother, I was stymied by how difficult it was to soothe my sons cries. my mother taught me to go through the list of reasons why he could be crying; 1. Is he hungry? 2. Is he tired? 3. Is he too hot or too cold 4. Does he have a stomache ache? 5. Is there something uncomfortable in his clothing like a tag or something too tight? and if it is none of these, is it just existential angst?
How different are we than that baby? And can we not treat ourselves with the delicate and loving patience that a little baby deserves?
A dear friend of mine has recently started me on a process of hypnotherapy… and she has let me know that an absolutely essential step in this process is very alert self parenting. So I am listening to her. And after the first session I went home tired as can be and said to myself “Janet sweetheart, it’s time for bed… but first we take a quick shower to wash the day off and have a little something to eat so you do not go to bed hungry”. These are the same words I say to my son… but not often enough to myself… at least not with the same tender love. And I did tenderly tend to my spirit… via acts of self-care and nurturing, body and spirit.
We are precious little beings we are.
When we are agitated, vulnerable, out of sorts, lonely, insecure, lost in direction, overwhelmed and frustrated on a day to day basis… we are going to find ways to distract, comfort, deny, escape… soothe. There there little one… have another…. These are our survival mechanisms. And thank the stars we have them! But they can’t always do the great and noble job of care of the spirit… that is a high calling. Ultimately, that is our job. To be the keepers of our own spirits.
This body is innocent. It is just doing a job. It’s job is to do the legwork for the purpose of the being inhabiting it. So it might get hungry… but a body will only get hungry for what it needs. My car does not get hungry for Coca cola or tofu, because that would be a disaster. It wants Diesel and Water.
Of course, we are a bit more complicated as there is no one Human Model. We have “Bio-Individuality”, meaning that there is a model for every human being. The perfect fuel combination doesn’t exist for more than one person… because we are all so incredibly specifically uniquely special. And what’s more… we have hungry hungry spirits. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. We would be off floating on clouds, playing harps and eating the proverbial grapes in the ethers.
We are here because our spirits are hungry for something. For life. For energy. For connection. For experience. To be understood and to understand. Food fits into this category, as it plays a part in all of this. But man cannot live on bread alone (I am sure I read that somewhere)….
So a list. A list would be nice. So when we are feeling ravenous for no obvious reason… we can go down the list of why we are hungry.
Thank you Eric Edmeades (the founder of WildFit) for this list of the 6 human hungers.
1. NUTRITIONAL HUNGER i.e. deficient in something. This is the only real hunger. As this is the only reason we give the body food. We give it what it needs to function.
2. THIRST. We used to get water from our food, as there weren’t taps in houses or bottled water convenience. Water was inside the food we ate, and so often thirst still feels like hunger to us.
3. VARIETY. We are craving something because our diet is limited and not providing us enough flavour, color, nutrition, etc.. to satisfy us. So we keep eating more of the same thing… but what we really need is something totally different.
4. LOW BLOOD SUGAR. Especially when we have a lot of sugar in our diet… as the body will adapt to using sugar for energy… and it will cycle through it quickly, making you feel like you need to eat in order to keep energy up.
5. EMOTIONAL HUNGER. This is the one that can really get out of control. Because although a little snack or comfort food can have a nice soothing effect on the spirit… we can easily fall into the trap where we are trying to ease our pains and discomforts with food. It is definitely a case of putting the bandaid on the cancer. Not gonna help.
6 EMPTY STOMACH HUNGER. When our stomach is empty, it is a bit umcomfortable, but it also puts us in a bit of reptilian brain panic. Must eat. Must not starve. But truthfully, our digestive system is designed to have some time and space between meals to fully digest and eliminate. It needs a clean-out. And this can take hours. So a nice empty stomach hunger every once in a while can do a world of good.
Let me continue into this area of cravings and hunger pulling from the wise words of Joshua Rosenthal, the director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition:
Other reasons for cravings… in no particular order….
- Lack of healthy relationships and connection with others, lack of creativity, Lacking in purpose and directions, lack of physical exercise (Releasing energy!).
- An imbalance of yin/yang energy (Too much outward energy and not enough introspection and self-care).
- Childhood foods for comfort.
- A residual taste on the tongue from yesterdays naughty thing that makes us think of that naughty thing and because we are thinking of it, we must want it….
- Seasonal foods that the body is craving because it might actually want or need it.
- Hormones that have us convinced that we need an excess of something in order to balance out the way we feel… also linked to emotional eating or nutritional deficiency but linked also to certain hormonal cycles.
Some cravings are good and valid and real… and all cravings are based on body intelligence. Why? Because we are very very very intelligent. The body is this perfect mechanism that is doing more microscopic magic than you can even quantify. And so if it says it needs something… it needs something. The question is… what does it really need?
Is it really a taco? Or is it a hug?
Is it a latte? Or is it more meaning in your life?
Is it a candy bar? Or a mini vacation?
Is it vegetable soup? In that case, Yes. Probably it is.
Our habits might be limiting us. Our addictions take up our time and energy that we could be using to fulfil our higher purpose. We are not bad people for having addictions and habits. In fact… some of the most beautiful beings…
We are amazing beings grappling in a mad world.
Awareness of our hunger, of the body and spirit, is just another tool for freedom.
May your habits not dictate your life… but may you create habits that help you rise up in glory.
Thanks for reading this. I love to hear your comments and ideas… so please be in touch.