Hungry/Starving (hunger) oil pastel on paper
Dieting, binging, purging, numbing, over exercising and otherwise ignoring the body’s perfectly installed hunger signals creates a huge disconnect between mind and body. We see evidence of this disconnect in men and women with disordered eating. F. drew the above as part of the directive “Draw what hunger is for you. Draw what starving is for you.” She was trying to draw a green light! As you can see she reflexively draws “Stop” even though she wants to draw “Go”! This gives her a chance to see that her own inner “satiation alarms” are not wired right. She is so unfamiliar with her own body’s feedback that she literally failed twice at drawing hunger.
This illustrates the magnitude of the task ahead for the recovering restrictor or binger. After years of telling the body to shut up (ED’s voice, of course) it takes some practice to begin to listen to the body. And it takes a little time to get the ravaged body back in sync. (Chronic and long term eating disorders, laxative abuse and years of starving and purging sometimes do irreparable damage.) Healthy people eat when they are hungry and stop when they feel full. This requires a commitment to “be in the body” and receive the message. Happily there are skills to learn and ways to practice. I list a few here.
• Best practice is to work with a nutritionist. This is a trained professional with knowledge of healthy set points. You can learn and practice a healthy relationship with food again. A dietician can answer questions like …How much is a portion? How can I eat at restaurants? Go grocery shopping? Cook? Do I need to avoid certain foods altogether?
• Check your 5 basic senses…what do I see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste? In the right now.
• Draw a self-portrait and make sure you connect head and body with an adequate neck. It doesn’t have to be a great drawing; it just has to include a neck.
• See if you can draw the difference between hunger and starving? Between satisfied and overstuffed? Figure out where your drawing resides in your body.
• Horseback riding
• Deep breathing, long stretches, yoga
• Humming or singing with your hand on your throat can open a closed 5th chakra, opening the bridge between the head and body. It is especially helpful if you draw with the other hand too.
Copyright Jas Milam 2012