Know Your Hungers (+ How to Reach and Receive Them)

woman eating cake.jpeg

Back in February, I wrote about the Satisfaction Cycle and how to use this developmental movement practice as a way to practice setting boundaries (literally saying NO) not only from a place of cognitive awareness but also from a place of healthy embodiment. What about using the Satisfaction Cycle as a way to heal from an eating disorder (or disordered eating), to get to know what your body wants to eat, to get up and reach for what your body wants to eat, to pick exactly what your body wants, and finally, to receive and appreciate what your body wants? (And, please keep in mind that while I’m talking food and listening to your body, I’m also talking about your deeper hungers. The two go hand-in-hand.)

As a refresher, the Satisfaction Cycle is a developmental movement therapeutic practice that invites one to process and practice infant movement patterns that offer psychological and physical growth parallels. Sometimes as we age and go through all life has to offer good and bad, we can feel stuck or disembodied, or perhaps something in our life feels “off,” so revisiting the Cycle can offer a re-patterning of foundational concepts.

So, what if you crave a tub of buttercream frosting or an entire bag of Lay’s potato chips? Isn’t that what the non-diet culture says is okay? What if your cousin keeps pushing the new fasting trend, but your belly begs to differ and wants a normal dinner at 6pm? What if you’re diabetic and have to be more mindful of your sugar intake than your margarita-drinking friends, but you also don’t want to deprive yourself?

The steps in the Satisfaction Cycle can help you unpack and use discernment in exploring what, how much, and when to have what you are hungry for. This might be a good time for journaling because while we will use food as a metaphor in the following steps of the Cycle, go wild and have fun brainstorming all the delicious things you want in life: relationships, family life, creative pursuits, your living environment, living in your body, adventures, a deeper sense of spiritual connection, etc.

  1. Get to know what your body wants to eat — Yield. It takes the presence of YIELDING into a situation with awareness, resting into knowing what is a no, what is a yes. Being able to sense what sounds energizing, nourishing and satisfying. Being able to sense what is draining, stuffing or not enough after you consume it. To yield, notice where your body meets a supportive ground, and give yourself time to reflect on what has nourished you in the past and what type of food(s) might nourish you for this meal or snack. Yielding is about mindfulness (“hmm, how are my senses reacting?”), discernment (“this sounds good but would make me feel foggy”), and wakefulness (“I probably need a bigger/smaller portion to serve my energy needs”). Yielding is the the opposite of rebelling with food, using your body to make a political statement, dissociating with emotional eating, or collapsing into a “what-the-hell” attitude. Use the yielding practice for reflection for literal and figurative nourishment meal-by-meal, day-by-day.

  2. Get up and go for it — Push. Now for PUSHING. Pushing away from old habits, pushing away from behaviors that don’t serve you, and even pushing away from the decision-making time of yielding and experimenting with something new, maybe out of your comfort zone. It’s wonderful to reflect, maybe sometimes to plan food choices (if that truly fits your healing path), but sometimes it’s also time to take action and try something even if it’s scary or it might not be just the right thing, or portion, or combo of foods to eat. Pushing is about empowerment from your core, pushing away from the old and taking yourself (and your belly) toward something new. On another note, in terms of pushing away from old habits or behaviors, many times twisting, turning the eyes, turning the head or body can help you set sail away from the old and toward the new, the energizing, the healthier nourishment.

  3. Move toward what you want — Reach. The beauty of the push — of the pushing away and "NO" leaves space for what will satisfy your taste buds and energize your life. You have the wide open space and view of possibilities of what you can have, what you do want. That's when you REACH. Try it right now. Put your hand in the air and imagine having an array of deliciousness and variety just within your fingertips. Close your eyes and imagine a rainbow of food possibilities. This is a great exercise if you’ve been restricting or if you’ve been binging. Imagine IT’S ALL ALLOWED, there’s ENOUGH TO GO AROUND so you don’t have to reach and grab it all at once. Practice trusting that the act of opening your arms and reaching can happen again and again, with curiosity, with playfulness, with empowerment, with a sense of agency from your belly, your (taste) buds and your brain.

  4. Hold exactly what you want — Grasp. Once you know and see and sense and feel what you are hungry for, you GRASP. You hold it with not only your literal or figurative hand but more so with your heart, your awareness, as well as with a trusting that you can have what you crave and deserve, but you just don't always get what you want. Sometimes we grasp, and it’s just not ready. Maybe you have to leave the house, and it takes an hour to cook in the oven. Maybe those blueberries are not in season. So that’s when you go with the next best solution. Or maybe, back to the diabetic example, you really can’t have that much sugar due to health consequences. That’s where you practice acceptance or maybe apply the Serenity Prayer or a variation of it. See how this Cycle works well with food but is not only related to food? :)

  5. Allow yourself to receive, digest and appreciate — Pull. Here’s where you PULL. You pull that deliciousness closer to you. You practice allowing yourself to receive something tasty as well as energizing. You practice trusting your body to digest and use the food to help you expand and glow. You practice appreciating the process of yielding with awareness and discernment, pushing to create boundaries and a clearer path, reaching for what you might want, grasping with empowerment and ownership and trust, then pulling toward your core with appreciation and allowance.

Hopefully, this gives you somewhat of a reflective blueprint and somatic practice to help notice how your body responds to a more mindful eating and living approach. It’s my wish for you to literally practice the postures and movements described (yield, push, reach, grasp, pull) just like a baby would aim for a toy just out of her reach. If that shiny object is there, she will do everything in her power to make a change, to move her body as much as she can to aim for what she wants. So can you.

Questions, or interested in how this practice applies to not only mindful eating but also how it applies to deeper hungers and patterns in your life? Let’s talk. Contact me here.