Recently, I was thinking about some of the things that have made the biggest difference in me getting to a place where most of the time I feel sane about food and my body. After trying to narrow it down, I realized that knowing and trusting myself were two of the main ones. Even though “knowing yourself” is a relatively big, vague concept, and something that is often much easier said than done, I truly think it has been huge.
Knowing yourself in a genuine and authentic way does often take time (it makes sense that it would), but I think (and know!) it’s a very good investment. Sometimes it is just a matter of paying attention, listening and learning from your everyday experiences, actions and thoughts. I know there is still a ton I need to learn and experience, but trusting that what I know about myself is true and honoring that has made a huge difference all around. Not just in what I eat specifically, but what kinds of situations help or hinder my personal experience with all this stuff. Drawing from past experiences and using my best intuition about what might arise (Ex. “Hmm…a food really similar to this one is usually a trigger for me, this one might be too!”)
Knowing myself has helped me to be more confident in speaking up about what I need—if I have confidence in knowing what is true within my own self, it makes sense that this would allow for me to feel more secure in expressing it to the outside world. Whether it’s if I’m hungry, if I don’t want a particular food item (food pushers are more difficult to fend off when you aren’t sure of yourself), or if a certain situation makes me uncomfortable.
Getting to know myself took A LOT of curiosity and listening. So much so that sometimes I just wanted to turn off the inquisitive, getting-to-know-myself voice inside… “Oh interesting, why are you doing or thinking that? Let’s remember for next time.” Ultimately, however, taking the time to inquire and listen has benefited me in ways that I cannot even fully express in this post. It might sound a little silly, but it’s almost like I had to first gain enough respect for myself in order to honor the fact that paying attention to how I work was worth it.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget what we learn about ourselves, so I often write down in a journal the things that I keep noticing. Food-wise for me, eating a whole plain bagel with cream cheese makes my stomach feel really weird and uncomfortable and leads to an even more uncomfortable energy crash about an hour later. If I really want a bagel, what is better for me is either having half with some other kind of protein or have something like peanut butter on it. This is just a little detail, but something that is important to recognize and remember. I used to get frustrated because I would forget and then repeat things that I had in the past learned or noticed about myself.
If you don’t like keeping a conventional journal, just having a notebook where you jot down one-liners of the things you notice about yourself or pick up on, it can be helpful to go back and review. They can be lengthy or short, just as long as the general idea or thing you noticed is there. Ex. “When I get anxious before a big presentation, eating doesn’t help me feel better! Having a healthy, hearty breakfast and drinking some tea feels good.”
A lot of people say that you only get to know yourself as you get older. Obviously the fact that you have experienced more life and more time being around yourself and in your won skin helps with the process, but I tend to think you can know your current self very well, it just might take some listening and practice.
Do you feel like knowing yourself helps you feel saner about food and your body? Do you have any strategies that have helped you get to this place? —Morgan