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Eating problems stem, in part, from not knowing what’s enough food to satisfy or what’s enough to weigh. Culture tells us one thing and medical advice tells us another. Then there are the dictums from childhood and pressures from our peer group. The core issue here is recognizing sufficiency, that is, knowing when enough is enough.
A sense of sufficiency comes from letting go of external standards and focusing on internal ones. Group think might work in promoting world peace, but idiosyncrasy is where it’s at when it comes to deciding what’s best for you, which means that each individual has to come up with her/his own answers. The fact is, a felt sense of sufficiency is at the root of “normal” eating and developing connection to it will help enormously in improving your relationship with food and your body.
As children, we depend on parents to advise us when enough is enough. We’re told, “Come inside now. You’ve been playing out there all morning,” “You must be stuffed with all you’ve eaten,” “Don’t think you’re done with your homework. You’ve only been at it for 15 minutes,” “Turn your light off, now. It’s time to go to sleep!” Thank goodness we’re given some instruction because, left to our own immature devices, we might end up in deep trouble. That’s the upside of having adults teach us about limits. The downside is when they do this so inappropriately and rigidly that we never get to know and respond to our own limits—when they force limits on us until we believe that what we feel is wrong or not what we feel and give up sensing sufficiency altogether
Effective parents provide limits and tell their children when enough is enough in an age appropriate manner while also respecting that a child may be receiving internal input at the same time. It’s a finely tuned interaction to help children develop a keen sense of sufficiency. Children need guidance to learn to tune into themselves rather than to listen to the commands/suggestions/advice of others. Moreover, parents who generally can sense enoughness are able to teach their children how they do it. They instinctively guide their children to figuring out answers by trial and error as they do.
How do you know when enough is enough? What did you learn about sufficiency and adequacy growing up? Did you have healthy or unhealthy role models? Once more, sensing enoughness is a necessary and learnable skill, so if you didn’t acquire it way back when, it’s time to do so now. Stop looking outside yourself for answers and listen to the wise voice inside you. It’s there, I swear, if you stop and take time to listen.
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