Written by: Sue Fuller-Good (MSc Physio WITS) Physiotherapist with a special interest in the mind-body connection
The wisdom of the body is striking, yet most human beings never ask their bodies for the answers they need.
“Should I run?” “What should I eat?” “How often should I exercise?” They read endless nutrition and lifestyle articles and try their best to follow them to the letter, chastising themselves as hopeless cases when they fail. Articles carry creeds such as: “You should drink 8 glasses of water a day”, “You must eat 3 meals a day”, “You should exercise a minimum of 3 times per week “etcetera. People follow diets which sell the concept of not mixing carbohydrates and proteins, avoiding fats at all costs, or only eating protein. They may lose weight, but they almost never keep it off. Some diets tell dieters exactly what quantity they should eat… 350g of rice for example. This type of rule following makes absolutely no space for the body to dictate its needs.
For example, my son will announce one day, often mid afternoon: “I want some eggs!” I will boil 3, he only eats the whites and he will gobble all 3 egg whites, discard the yellows and run off to play. I love this as it is so clear to me that he knows he needs some protein, that’s what he feels like and he usually doesn’t touch eggs for several weeks after such an “egg binge”. I try so hard to allow his little self-knowing body to dictate the menu in his life. Not easy, especially if dad announces “We are having pizza as a treat tonight”, because pizza kills any body wisdom instantly. He will have several mouthfuls in quick succession and then announce “I’ve had enough”. It is so easy to retort: “You have to finish all the food on your plate”, but this will silence his body’s fullness center and disable from knowing when to stop forever.
It is much easier for us as adults to hear what our bodies need and to provide exactly that. The trouble is, we are too busy to “hear” too set in our thinking to allow that sort of flexibility.
It’s supper time so we must eat, we must eat protein and 2 starches for supper, or whatever we have been brought up to believe. So where is the flexibility to say: “I want eggs” and to have them, how ever many it takes to provide the protein that is lacking?