Food as Early Warning System

By Holly Noonan | Jun 19, 2012

Camden, Maine — People have different patterns with food. You may not be able to eat when you are under a lot of stress, or you may eat way more than usual. You may react to falling in love by craving only green smoothies or you may want nothing but pasta carbonara.

These traits are part of your "food fingerprint." This consists of foods you love, foods you hate, foods that make you feel good and energized (according to your body type) and foods that put a drag on your engine (even if you love them.) It also encompasses your allergies and food sensitivities, your definition of "comfort food" and how your relationship with food changes when you are 1) stressed out, 2) upset or grieving, 3) in love or blissed out 4) balanced and well-nourished.

Our relationship with food is complex, nuanced and changeable.

I find that my relationship with food works like an early warning system. When I find that I have eaten until I am stuffed, for example, it's one of the first ways I know that something is going on with me. It's one of the first ways that my subconscious communicates with me.

Sometimes you have a dream in which you are clearly trying to work something out. Your body and mind works on it ("chews" on it) when you're sleeping so that you can process it and sort through it. When you wake up, you know you've been working something through.

Eating til you're overly full, NOT eating and waiting til your hunger goes away, eating numbing foods or eating super crunchy/salty/sweet/hot foods--- these are all ways in which your unconscious is communicating something.

This is one of the reasons you don't need to fight it or be ashamed of it-- because it's asking you to LISTEN to it. It's your body/mind communicating with you. Self-compassion is the key to hearing its message.

Just like you need to do research on yourself to discover whether you have the kind of body that does better with whole grains and vegetables or better with protein and vegetables, (which type are you?) it's also important research to discover this part of your food fingerprint;

What makes you eat too much? What makes you lose your hunger? What is your body/mind trying to convey when there's a shift in your relationship to food?

I overeat when I feel an emotional hunger. I want to be hugged or I need to dance or I need a creative outlet or I had a fight with someone I love.  I don't forbid myself to eat. I just watch it happen and I try to listen inwardly-- lovingly.

Usually within a few days the connection between the emotion and the "hunger" will reveal itself, and then ---*pop*---- the hunger will be gone. I will go back to eating until I'm not quite full. I am grateful for the way in which my body/mind helps me understand and process my world. Writing in my journal helps, too, with clarity.

That's one pattern of one person. There are endless possible patterns. What are yours?

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Holly Noonan writes about self-nourishment and food empowerment every month in her Mind Body Nutrition Newsletter.

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