*EDITOR’S NOTE: We used the phrasing “weight loss” twice in this blog post to highlight that the Self-Love Diet is not related to weight loss whatsoever, but is instead focused on loving yourself. We paid to have ads removed from our WordPress blog, Self-Love Warrior, but when previewing this blog post, “weight loss” was highlighted in blue, spotlighting pop-up ads about losing weight. We do not endorse these ads. This shows how externally focused our culture is. We’re figuring out how to get rid of these ads.
The Body Path to Self-Love is multifaceted. In the Self-Love Diet, diet is redefined as “regularly offering yourself love.” When the Self-Love Diet focuses on food and eating, it departs from the weight loss focus of mainstream diets and focuses instead on trusting the inner wisdom of your body.
The Body Path of the Self-Love Diet offers 7 guidelines when bringing love into your eating behaviors and food choices. I will focus on the first guideline today.
#1: Eat when you are physically hungry
This first step is deceptively simple. If you are someone who is suffering from an eating disorder, this is not easy to follow. Even if you have never had an eating disorder, this first step may be harder than you think.
Consider someone who has been restricting their food intake, whether it’s because they have been diagnosed with anorexia, or because they are on a diet and want to lose weight. For someone with anorexia, or on a diet, eating when they are physically hungry may be complicated.
If someone is dealing with anorexia, eating when they are physically hungry can be compared to having a snake phobia and being asked to walk into a room slithering with snakes. The fear of becoming fat is so scary that eating when physically hungry is too much to handle. Over time this individual’s stomach will shrink and it will be harder and harder to stay in touch with the body’s hunger signals.
If someone is dealing with binge eating, or emotional eating, the catalyst for eating is not physical hunger, but rather emotional needs that are being met with food. In this case, the overeater over-rules his/her physical sensations of satiety in order to distract, comfort and deal with emotions. Similarly, someone with a diagnosis of bulimia may find it difficult to eat when they are physically hungry due to the fear of it becoming a binge, which can make them feel compelled to purge.
If we look at this first step of Eat when you are physically hungry through the lens of a “normal” eater who is on a diet, we can see how the rules of the diet encourages the dieter to look outside of themselves for what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, etc. They are no longer in tune with their body’s signals, rather they are encouraged to look at calories and the external “expert” of the diet to tell them when, what, and how to eat.
In order to love yourself by eating when you are physically hungry, you need to pay attention to your body. Your body has lots to tell you if you listen. If you have lost that important connection to your body, you may likely need to gain the support of a registered dietitian or therapist.
I use Karin Kratina MA, RD’s Basic Hunger/Satiety Scale from her book, Moving Away from Diets with my clients. It helped me distinguish between physical and emotional hunger during my past compulsive overeating days. Here is a scale from starving to “Thanksgiving full” that you can begin to use in order to be aware of your body’s state.
0= Starving and beyond.
1= So hungry you want to order everything on the menu.
2= Everything on the menu begins to look good. You may be very preoccupied with your hunger.
3= You are hungry and the urge to eat is strong.
4= A little hungry. You can wait to eat, but you know you will be getting hungrier soon.
5= Neutral. Not hungry. Not full.
6= No longer hungry. You sense food in your belly, but you could definitely eat more.
7= Hunger is definitely gone. Stop here, and you may not feel hungry again for 3-4 hours.
8= Not uncomfortable, but definitely have eaten a belly full.
9= Moving into uncomfortable.
10= “Thanksgiving full.” Very uncomfortable, maybe even painful.
I offer you this scale as a guide to help you with the first step of the Self-Love Diet Food and Eating Guideline, Eat when you are physically hungry.
Your body is amazing. It knows what it needs and how much it needs. If you have lost touch with your body’s intrinsic ability to let you know when it is physically hungry, with time you will be able to regain this precious gift.
I invite you to love yourself enough this month of March to begin to put the 7 Food and Eating guidelines into practice.
Blessings on the Body Path of your Self-Love Diet Journey,
March’s self-love writing prompt is the Body Path. You can share your self-love journey with the Love Warrior Community by submitting your self-love posts to be published here on Self-Love Warrior, or you can share them on the Self-Love Diet Facebook page.