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Here’s a 7-day plan to connect with your appetite and emotions. For one week, follow the guidelines below to learn and practice a different aspect of connecting to yourself. Each day you’ll have one experience to focus on for that whole day. If you like what you learn in a week, try it for another. It will help move you closer to “normal” eating.
Day 1: How do I feel in my body? Don’t critique your body. Just neutrally notice how you feel in it. Which parts move well and which don’t? Connect to your body, observing how it feels sitting, standing, walking, dancing, resting. Stay away from the mirror. Repeat, stay away from the mirror. You’re seeking a view from the inside out, not the outside in.
Day 2: How hungry am I? When you think you want food, note your hunger level using a 0 (none) to 10 (very) scale without judgment. If you’re not well tuned in to hunger, this is a great opportunity (for one day) to focus on your what hunger feels like. Simply notice fluctuations and subtle gradations on the continuum from not hungry to famished.
Day 3: What food do I crave? Pay attention to what you want to eat without judging your desires. Notice if cravings come from your head, mouth, belly or just seeing food; how long cravings last; which ones comes back and which ones go and stay away.
Day 4: When do I want to eat? Just staying curious, notice when you want food. Identify the time of day and what you’re doing. Seek out patterns, as in you want food when you’re tired, busy, or have nothing to do. You’re not looking for what you’re experiencing emotionally as much as patterns that have to do with circumstance and appetite.
Day 5: What are you experiencing emotionally when you desire food? With neutrality, identify your emotions when you think you want food. Be as emotion specific as you can be, not simply happy, sad or pissed. Dig deep for the hurt under anger and find the word or words that describe exactly what you’re feeling.
Day 6: Am I eating with awareness? Savor every food interaction, even just a bit of this or a mouthful of that. Pay total attention to taste and texture. Chew a lot and let food sit on your tongue. Without judging, notice how taste ebbs and flows—and eventually decreases the longer you’re eating a food. Find the sweet spot when flavor peaks.
Day 7: When am I full or satisfied when eating? Notice when you’re full (quantity) or satisfied (quality). Where in your body does this information come from? Observe thoughts and feelings that come up when you’re full or satisfied. Simply sit with the experience of having eaten enough and enjoyed food.
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Stop pushing yourself to change and, instead, heighten your self-awareness. Leave being judgy out of the process and aim for curiosity and reflection. If the week’s experience is helpful, do it for another. What do you have to lose?
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