Body Wisdom: Are You Listening To What Your Body Is Telling You?

Photography: Alisa Anton

By Sally Saint

I recently took my son to the supermarket; he has a cold and I was amazed at the foods he naturally went for. The ones that would be of most support. They were ones he didn’t regularly eat so it wasn’t pattern eating, it was pure body wisdom guiding him.

Rewind to his young life: I breastfed and baby-led weaned – so for him, access to food and the amounts was in his control. He could stop when he was full, he could view the range of healthful food in front of him and dive in, which he often did when he was exploring food.

With great gusto he would explore the texture, colour and taste of each new food. He would be completely and utterly covered in various food materials. So was the sofa, floor, table – any surface in reach and close vicinity got splattered.

It gave him a love of food, and to see him grinning and immersed in his exploration was an absolute joy. If you are considering doing it, it is so worth it. So worth the period where they make the most amazing artwork with their smeared remains of food. Short-term you become the clean up operator for your toddler, long-term you set them up for a wonderful relationship with food.

Recently I have developed a sleep problem and because of factors in my life I overlooked it for about 6 months. On eventually contacting my natural nutritionist, it has been uncovered I have developed a hormone imbalance. Now I am seeing it as a call for more balance in my life in general, not fixating on the sleep – that is a symptom not the cause. Now whenever I don’t eat when I am hungry, overeat, start head conversations that aren’t healthful, overlook my needs in any way, I can feel my body. The hormone rush.

It is the effect of a life led not listening to my body wisdom. Recently I have embarked on a deeper level of self introspection, many layers have been brought to light, listening to the body has been lacking, why?

I was brought up on a farm, by parents who were parented by those who knew rationing and scarcity of food, so from this perspective what was passed on to me was “eat your plate clean” and I would be a good girl for doing this. No disrespect to my family at all, they knew hardships I would never know and had beliefs instilled in them.

In becoming a parent we go through stages/cycles and the cycle of intensity calls on us to be authentic. Here lies the land of listening to our hearts and actively doing things differently for our young one.

An adult putting their opinion on how much the child should eat and then reinforcing it with praise when they comply, encourages the child to step away from their body signals and seek the praise rather than the listening to self when their stomach is full. It is a gentle introduction to stepping away from body wisdom and eating to please others.

I do remember as a child going on a food strike for quite a period, the only thing I would do was drink Lucozade. My adult self wonders if it was my attempt to gain back some control in my life.

Fast forward to my 16-year-old self. I developed M.E, and the first 5 years were rough. My discovery of having food intolerances was a massive life changer. One of them was cow’s milk. Being brought up on a dairy farm, with milk straight from the tank was an ‘Aha’ moment. My energy, wellbeing, skin and health returned over a period of time with other natural treatments. It gave me a fantastic opportunity to learn about healthful food, as I was and still am intolerant to wheat, cow’s milk and sugar, and with that combination I learnt fast!

It meant when I stepped into motherhood I came ready prepared with a knowledge of healthy eating and what processed foods contain.

So why have I crashed again with something that I cannot ignore? Because my self-care is lacking. Oh yes I have learnt so much and support myself with the information I have gained from the natural nutritionist I am in partnership with, in my learning about food.

It all can amount to nothing if I do not take the time to listen. It has become crystal clear that there were always messages, I just wasn’t listening. My body wisdom has been ignored and stuffed down.

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