I’ve been reading the writing of Marion Woodman, an author and Freudian analyst, who’s well known for her writings on addiction and eating disorders. Freudian dream analyst and forerunner in the intuitive eating field even before it was a field. In much of her work, she talks about how literal the body is in its signals; in a recent interview she says, “The longing for sweets is really a yearning for love or sweetness.”
If cravings really are that transparent, why are we so frequently at their mercy? I think it’s a simple answer: we just don’t take the time to listen to where the craving is coming from. What part of our Selves is doing the craving—the body or the mind? The fact is, we don’t really pay much attention to our Selves from the waist down. In our culture, the head is where the action’s at; it’s the part that’s sexy and loud and bright, and we’re completely at its mercy. Meanwhile, we drag the body around like a dog on a leash.
But the body is brilliant at expressing its needs and desires. It’s just not as shrill or strident as the mind, and we don’t get still and quiet often enough to hear the body speaking–or we do hear it, but allow the mind’s whims to subjugate the body’s needs. When we get sick, it’s often the body’s way of saying “Enough!” when it’s fed up with being ignored. And it’s an opportunity to check in with our Selves from the neck down, and notice what needs attention.
What does all of this have to do with eating? Everything. In our culture, we eat from the neck up. When we dine out, we choose grilled salmon, no sauce, dinner salad, dressing on the side, because the brain tells us this is a nutritious choice that will keep us slim and healthy. At the store, we load up our shopping carts with non-fat milk, low-calorie “butter” spread and diet soda, because our minds tell us those foods will also keep us slim. Sometimes, we load up our shopping carts with frozen dinners and boxed mac ‘n cheese, because our minds tell us we’re behind on deadlines and we don’t have time to cook.