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  • Dina Cohen

How to Trust Your Gut

Exhibit A: a child's leftover cookie.

Mind you, we're talking about a real child and a real cookie. And it was a really good cookie. I know because I ate one. The child ate one, too. Then she took a few bites of her second cookie, decided she was done, and went to play.

I am posting this to demonstrate that it is entirely possible to eat some of a cookie. This is not necessarily a goal; in fact, for you, eating the whole cookie might be exactly what you need to do for your recovery. But because so many people are afraid to eat a cookie because they think they'll go on to eat ALL the cookies, I want to illustrate that in the absence of shame, guilt, fear, or deprivation, a person can have a perfectly delightful cookie experience and then decide that more won't be particularly satisfying because she's already full and she has other enjoyable things to do.

When you aren't afraid of a cookie, when you don't feel guilty about eating one, and when you trust that there will be more cookies to be had another day, you can decline another one without feeling deprived. You need to be able to trust yourself that there'll be more cookies in the future. If you feel like there's another diet looming around the corner, or if you promise yourself that tomorrow you'll stop eating cookies, it's going to be awfully hard to let your body tell you how many cookies to eat today. Trusting your gut only happens after you can trust yourself. Do you trust that you won't put yourself on another diet? Do you trust that when you tell yourself you're going to "eat healthier", "eat clean", or "start a wellness program" that it's not yet another way of depriving yourself in order to get a thinner body?

Every good relationship is built on trust. If you want to be able to trust the messages your body gives you, the trust has to go both ways. Your body needs to know that you will reliably provide it with foods that are nourishing and enjoyable, and then it can give you uncenscored feedback. And this feedback is a gift! It allows you to make decisions that will help you feel your best. Sleeping when you're tired, moving when you're energized, eating when you're hungry, and stopping when you're full (most of the time!) allow you to feel at home in your body. When you're at home in a relationship, it means there is trust.

You might want to begin trusting your body, but it might not trust YOU very much. If that's the case, there are probably some good reasons why. But even if trust has been broken, it can be repaired. It's not really building something new; after all, you were born trusting your body. There are many resources to help you return to a good relationship with food and your body. It's never too late to get back to how you were born to eat - with joy, with ease, and without a second thought.

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