Updated: Aug 1, 2021
When I started my healing journey, one of my biggest motivators was food. Expanding my diet meant so much more to me than being able to enjoy the ingredients I missed. It was as much about being part of rituals and communal experiences—sharing meals and attending potlucks, parties, and holidays. Food freedom also meant having the security of knowing I could go anywhere with trust that I would be fed and nourished.
As with many retrainers, food introductions came later in my rewiring process, and many foods required substantial incremental training. First, I was eating mangos, then bananas, and then carrots. Eventually I could eat curry, ice cream, teriyaki, tomato sauce, hummus, aged cheeses, and the list kept expanding! Opening up this world of epicurean choice has been absolutely incredible. The simple things like enjoying my grandmother’s brisket or ordering off a menu without any modifications bring me so much joy and reaffirm that I am truly rewiring my brain.
But all these new options could be a little confusing. Now that I could eat (almost) anything, what should I eat? It is exciting to be able to enjoy a glass of wine or a big scoop of ice cream, but just because I can hit up the drive through now, doesn’t exactly mean I should all the time, right? We all know that food is fuel, and the quality of that fuel matters. But food is so much more than the nutrients we feed our body. So how do we strike the right balance?
Rewiring offers more than an opportunity to increase the number of foods we eat. It gives us the ability to reimagine and reevaluate our relationship with food and our diet. This inquiry is especially important if our old way of eating largely revolved around avoiding certain foods (whether at the direction of Limby, a nutritionist, or a doctor), or if we developed rigid conceptions of what our bodies required to function. After letting go of the fear and limiting beliefs around diet, it can take some time to redefine how we eat from a starting point of resilience.
In this four-part series, I will share guiding principles that have helped me navigate and find balance as I rewire with food. These principles are simple and non-prescriptive. Instead, they offer a way of looking at things to help you expand your options and find what works best for you.
Principle 1: Listen to what your body wants
In rewiring, we put a lot of effort into ignoring false limbic messages, but we don’t want to ignore all the messages our body is sending us. As we heal and quiet the limbic “noise,” another set of messages begin to appear. Instead of messages of avoidance and fear, these are messages about what the body craves. If we learn to flex this listening muscle, we can be drawn to foods that nourish us, energize us, and bring us joy.
Listening to what your body wants is about getting into the curious observer role. Maybe you discover that you feel energized when you eat a big early breakfast with eggs and sausage, or maybe you find that you feel light and boosted by a smoothie later in the morning. There is no right answer to be found. It is more about noticing and being mindful of what work best for you.
This inquiry is not about body scanning or focusing on symptoms or sensations in the body. Instead, you are noticing on what brings you joy and energy as opposed to avoiding triggers. You are being drawn toward what is the best fit for you at this time as opposed to running away from the "bad stuff."
When you start listening, be open to being surprised! You have changed your brain and your body by rewiring, and it is likely your lifestyle is shifting too. You might just find that you do great with a little pick-me-up snack around 4pm, even if you never have before. Learning to listen to your body is a skill that will serve you throughout your life as you and your lifestyle continue to shift and evolve.
This listening practice can take time to develop, especially if you have been getting a lot of limbic static about food for a long time. If you are new to rewiring and find this type of listening to be difficult because of cross-wiring, that is ok! Trust that over time, you will start to get a better sense of what your body loves.
If you have worked with rewiring around diet, how has your experience been with learning to listen to what your body wants? Have you found it easier as you have rewired to hear these messages? Were there any limiting beliefs you had to rewire to change your relationship to food? Share your experience in the comments below!
Meredith is a Certified Health and Life Coach and creator of Inner Compass Health—a coaching practice empowering highly motivated women who face life disrupting stress and chronic conditions to harness their innate capacity to heal and thrive. Meredith’s work is inspired by her own healing journey. Since childhood she experienced evolving health issues culminating in over a decade of debilitating daily symptoms. In 2019, Meredith left her high-stress job and took her health into her own hands. Through a devoted brain retraining practice, self-care, inner work, and a nourishing diet and lifestyle, Meredith found so much more than relief from her symptoms—she learned to listen to her own inner compass. Today Meredith celebrates her health through nature, food, dance, and travel.
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