Listen to Your Body, It’s Talking

She earned her Master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Arizona State University. In her early career, she worked as a clinical dietitian in an intensive care unit.

In 2017, Abby co-founded EVOLVE Flagstaff, an integrative practice that offers weight-inclusive services including physical therapy, injury prevention, nutrition counseling, training, and meal preparation. Her nutrition practice mainly focuses on working with athletes and individuals with eating disorders. She helps her clients to re-establish their relationship with food and movement and unlearn behaviors that negatively impact their relationship with their bodies and food.

Apart from her work with clients, Abby is an aerialist and dancer, and director of a non-profit performing arts company, Dark Sky Aerial. She enjoys cooking, coaching strength and conditioning, and teaching yoga. Depending on the season you will find her outdoors biking, skiing, or reading in the sun with her dogs.

Listen to Your Body, It’s Talking

If you’re among the majority of people disappointed with traditional diets, your body is telling you something important.

83% of restrictive diet plans fail because they can disconnect you from your inner voice. They do this by interjecting rules that take you further away from perceiving and interpreting your body’s signals and natural cues.

Most of us want to resist being bullied about our food choices. At some point, we rebel and go on eating binges or overeating as the instincts we suppress build up and up, eventually overwhelming us to give the body what it wants and needs – nay, what it’s screaming for.

Young black man with eyes closed, listening to his body as he eats intuitively.

Most of us want to resist being bullied about our food choices. At some point, we rebel and go on eating binges or overeating as the instincts we suppress build up and up, eventually overwhelming us to give the body what it wants and needs – nay, what it’s screaming for.

It’s harder to hear what our bodies are saying when we’re pushed to the limits. You’re not alone in your frustration, but there are other ways to reach your personal goals. If a plan doesn’t work for you, it’s time to move on to something that does.

Intuitive eating is often a more satisfying way to reach health and wellness goals. It involves picking up on signals sent from the body, discerning what your body is telling you, and learning how to satisfy the body without feeling deprived or overwhelmed. The Way app is specially designed to make learning intuitive eating much easier.

A Challenge Worth The Investment

Researchers at UC Berkeley recommend getting in sync with your body for healthier and happier relationships with food. Your inner voice helps you discover foods that provide better nutrition for improved physical and emotional health.

When we listen to our bodies, they can point out aspects of specific foods that enhance health, satisfaction, and happiness. This is a core part of intuitive eating that may seem wonky at first, but truly helps maximize the benefits as you mature and find your comfort and trust with your body.

You can enjoy the foods you eat minus the stress of adhering to rules that make you feel miserable, like you’ve failed, or like there’s something “wrong” with you. There’s nothing wrong with you – there’s something wrong with the diet. You can simultaneously work toward any health or personal goals by listening to your body and engaging in intuitive eating.

You can learn what you need to know here and get started!

What To Expect And How To Proceed

As you embark on your journey there will be times when a lightbulb comes on, and you feel that you’ve conquered a mountain. Other times, you might feel foggy or out of sync. It’s normal to resist going against old thinking patterns, but you can push through the initial resistance.

You’ll notice that your attitude towards food gets healthier and more body-centric. Intuitive eating is forgiving. If you forget and ignore your body’s signs, you can pick up where you left off without losing ground in your progress. You may reflect back and feel bad about your progress because it’s what you’re accustomed to doing. Self-condemnation can become a habit, but you can move away from the behavior if that’s one of your personal goals.

How To Listen To Your Body

Listening to your body is a skill that takes time and practice to master, and it’s something everyone can do, but it’s a process. It involves learning how the body talks, then honing in on the meaning of the sensations and feelings it sends. Your body signals you with clear messages, but as with any new skill, listening to body messages takes time, patience, and practice.

The body is a part of yourself that has a voice that is often ignored. You will unlearn the old behaviors of ignoring the messages it sends, then relearn new habits of considering what the feelings you experience mean. It sounds simple, but changing habits can be tough at times. You may feel disconnected at first. This is normal, but concentrate on redirecting your thoughts to focus on key aspects of your body’s message system, like the ways below.

How Your Body Talks To You

Your body responds to the foods you eat through the five senses of sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste. Visually appealing food has a psychological value, the smell and taste can be comforting and even the sound can be appealing such as the noise of the fizz from a refreshing soda. Foods that are healthy can and should appeal to your senses, and finding your healthiest options are key in giving the body what it needs versus the perception of what it wants.

Once you realize what your body needs, you’ll begin to gravitate toward healthier choices. It will become second nature, and you’ll enjoy the meals and snacks more than ever before. It won’t be a drudgery, but rather, a pleasurable experience. If you’re not there yet, be patient with yourself and let self-criticism fall away. You’re embarking on an adventure and a self-healing journey of discovery and awareness.

Your Body Tells You How It Responds To Food

Bodies react to foods physically, creating sensations that can range from pleasant to uncomfortable. An essential part of listening to your body is to form the habit of noting the feelings you get after eating.

Body signals arrive as subtle cues that are both physical and psychological. For example, eating a load of sugary food may cause you to feel energized for a few hours, but you may experience a crash that leaves you feeling fatigued. The feelings are messages that your body sends about the foods you’ve eaten and the effect on your energy levels, and sometimes, your mood.

Learning to pay close attention to the messages your body sends can help you choose foods that make you feel satisfied without suffering from physical discomfort or psychological guilt later, e.g. “I wish I wouldn’t have eaten so much of that spicy food.” Next, let’s delve deeper into how you can learn to hear what your body is telling you, to help you enjoy your food choices fully and eat until you’re satisfied. We have a few exercises that will help the lightbulb come on and illuminate your pathway to opening a deep connection with your body and its messages.

Preparation For Your Exercises

The preface to learning to listen to your body is asking yourself the right questions to set you up for success. You will enter a world that is focused on your body and its needs, and to decipher the messages, it’s essential to understand the relationship you have with all foods, and how your body responds, to help you choose which foods you prefer based on their overall benefits.

Hunger/Fullness Assessment

1. When did I last feel hungry?

2. What was I hungry for?

3. What did I eat as a result?

4. How did my body feel at various points after eating that food? How did I feel when I ate, right after eating, two hours later, and the next day, after eating that particular food or meal?

5. Home in on your energy levels and sense of well-being. Did you feel peppy, lethargic, happy, uncomfortable, mentally sharp vs foggy thinking? The effects of food can last for a few minutes or up to a few days, depending on what you ate, how much you ate, and how your body processes that food.

6. Consider all foods you ate, how they were prepared, and the amount(s) you ate.

7. How did I feel on a fullness scale of 1 to 10? (1 is still hungry and 10 is full to the point of discomfort).

Steps To Hear What Your Body Is Saying

The following steps help you focus inwardly to form a strong mind-body connection to enhance body awareness. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.

1. Close your eyes and inhale deeply through your nose, exhaling through your mouth, 3 to 5 times.

2. Relax your body to fully feel the sensations and clear the mind for a deep connection to your body.

3. Ask yourself questions about your body’s responses to food, as outlined above. The answers to the questions come directly from your body. It’s the information that can help you to determine how to listen to your body. Keep your eyes closed, and redirect your thoughts if they stray. Continue the exercises regularly until it becomes second nature.

Understand The Different Types of Hunger

There are four basic types of hunger: physical hunger based on physical need, taste hunger when you get pleasure from the taste, flavor, or texture of food, emotional hunger when you eat to obtain comfort, and practical hunger, when you eat early because you won’t have time to eat a meal at the traditional time. It’s better to eat early vs. skipping a meal and becoming famished later.

You can add the question, “What kind of hunger inspired my last meal or snack?” to your exercises. It’s helpful to understand what causes you to eat the foods you choose because it helps you to interpret the messages your body sends better. For example, emotional eating may cause you to eat past your level of fullness and comfort. Eating some foods you love for taste, may result in your body telling you that you weren’t physically hungry in for form of indigestion, low energy, or bloating.

Maximize Your Pleasure Peak

The Pleasure Peak is the time when foods are the most enjoyable and satisfying. It usually happens when the tastebuds activate with bursts of pleasurable sensation, then gradually decrease. Become familiar with your pleasure peak, and work with ways to enjoy the experience such as eating more slowly and savoring the experience.

Once the peak has dissipated, you’ve enjoyed a wonderful meal, and listen to your body when it tells you that it’s full. Food is fuel for the body but it is also for pleasure, and it’s good to acknowledge this fact. When we learn to give the body what it needs nutritionally, and for the sake of pleasure in moderate doses, it responds with more positive messages. These are the messages we like the most. You’ll find that your enjoyment of food is enhanced and even more enjoyable each time.

Subtle changes in attitude develop, and desires for foods become more health-conscious, and based on choices that optimize feeling good. An example of progress is when you instinctually cut back on the amount of food that is satisfying in small amounts, but gives you heartburn in larger portions. It’s proof you got the message and made a beneficial adjustment.

Will My Body Consent To Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating involves mindfulness, and listening to your body signals to help you achieve the best possible health, comfort, and happiness. It’s not about depriving yourself of the things you love to eat. It’s about taking charge of your relationship with food and making choices that align with the needs of your body. When you gain an understanding of your body’s responses to food, you learn how to make choices that make you feel great without feeling like you’re “sacrificing”.

Your permission to eat remains unconditional, but what changes is how you feel about the foods you eat, how they’re prepared, and the amounts you enjoy. It’s a journey of self-awareness and self-fulfillment. You may find it new and different at first, but your body will love the attention and reward you with more energy, clearer thinking, and a heightened sense of well-being along the way. If you want help in your intuitive eating journey, the Way app can give you a safe, nonjudgmental spsace for self-reflection and self-exploration.