How Do You Control Your Appetite?

Naturally, after bragging about how I never get sick to a gym mate, I was struck down with a nasty flu bug. My long list of symptoms included zero appetite. Not only was I not hungry, everything I ate tasted awful. 

After nearly two weeks, I knew I was on the road to recovery when I woke up one morning with a voracious appetite. It felt so good to feel hungry and get pleasure from food again.

Controlling Appetite
My experience prompted me to reflect on the importance of appetite. 

Every day, we're bombarded with messages about how to control, suppress or conquer our appetite. Thus, it's no surprise that many of us view our appetite as the enemy, something that can't be trusted, something to fear, something that must be controlled.

When you think about it, however, your appetite is essential for life. It keeps you alive by telling you it's time to eat. Fighting it simply goes against the laws of nature. 

Fighting your appetite also leads to cravings, binge eating and overeating. And, fighting anything puts your body in the physiologic stress response, which increases cortisol, a hormone that, when constantly elevated, contributes to adverse health conditions.

Yet, so many of us have been trained to believe that having an appetite is bad and that controlling it is good. 

In Caroline Knapp's book, Appetites, she speaks of our culturally conditioned suspicion that "hungers themselves are somehow invalid or wrong, that indulgences must be earned and paid for, that the satisfaction of appetites often comes with a bill...

...appetites are at best risky, at worst impermissible...yielding to hunger may be permissible under certain conditions, but most likely it's something to be Earned or Monitored and Controlled. A controlled appetite, prerequisite for slenderness, connotes beauty, desirability, worthiness."

Your Appetite: Friend or Foe?
How would you describe your relationship with your appetite?

Is it your friend or foe? Do you trust it, fight it, ignore it, override it? 

Do you feel anxious when it calls, powerful when you restrain it, or weak when you cave into it?

Finding Your Natural Appetite
It is possible to cultivate a natural, easy and life-affirming relationship with your appetite. Doing so requires tuning into the wisdom of your body and trusting it to guide you—not some external forces or a belief that wanting to eat says anything about who you are as a person.  

Do You Control Your Appetite?

Naturally, after recently bragging to a gym mate about how I hadn't been sick in years, I was struck down with a nasty flu bug. My long list of symptoms included zero appetite. Not only was I not hungry, everything I ate tasted awful.

After nearly two weeks, I knew I was on the road to recovery when I woke up with a voracious appetite. It felt so good to feel hungry again. It felt exquisite to once again experience pleasure from food.

Controlling Appetite
This experience prompted me to reflect on the importance of appetite. So often, people ask me how they can control or suppress their appetite. It's common to view our appetite as the enemy, something that can't be trusted, something to fear, something that must be controlled.

When you think about it, however, your appetite is essential for life. It keeps you alive by telling you it's time to eat. Fighting it simply goes against the laws of nature.

Fighting your appetite also leads to cravings, binge eating and overeating. And, fighting anything puts your body in the physiologic stress response, which elevates cortisol, a fat-storing hormone, and contributes to other adverse health conditions.

Yet, so many of us have been trained to believe that having an appetite is bad and that controlling it is good.

In Caroline Knapp's book, Appetites, she speaks of our culturally conditioned suspicion that "hungers themselves are somehow invalid or wrong, that indulgences must be earned and paid for, that the satisfaction of appetites often comes with a bill...appetites are at best risky, at worst impermissible...yielding to hunger may be permissible under certain conditions, but most likely it's something to be Earned or Monitored and Controlled. A controlled appetite, prerequisite for slenderness, connotes beauty, desirability, worthiness."

Your Appetite: Friend or Foe?
What's your relationship like with your appetite? Is it your friend or foe? Do you trust it, fight it, ignore it, override it? Are you grateful for it, or frustrated by it? Do you feel anxious when it calls, powerful when you restrain it, or weak when you cave into it?

Finding Your Natural Appetite
It is possible to cultivate a natural, easy and life-affirming relationship with your appetite. Finding your natural appetite simply requires slowing down, tuning into the wisdom of your body and trusting it to guide you--not some external forces or a belief that wanting food says anything about who you are as a person.  

Are You at War?

I'm guessing you're not a big fan of war.

Most of us aren't. 

Yet, so many of us are constantly waging a war with our very own body--fighting it instead of loving it. 

Being at war with your body means...

  • Attacking its size, weight and shape

  • Berating its reflection in the mirror

  • Fighting its natural appetite

  • Depriving it of pleasurable foods and experiences

  • Punishing it with excessive and/or unenjoyable exercise

  • Beating it up with incessant shouldn't have eaten "X" thoughts 

  • Ignoring its aches, pains and hurts
     

It's quite likely that you, like so many of us, have been conditioned to believe that all the happiness, love, acceptance and peace you long for will finally arrive once you've conquered all these "enemies" and attained your ideal diet and body.

The thing is, the more you attack your body and behavior, the more entrenched you become in your internal war--and the further you become from having what you truly want at the deepest level of your being.

All this self-imposed suffering drains your life force, contracts your world, keeps you playing small, and stops you from realizing the fullest creative expression of yourself.


But, 

just as you have the power to wage war, 

you have the power to end it.

It all starts with releasing the core belief that fuels it:   

I'm not enough.
 

Buddha said, "All we are is the result of what we have thought." When you believe you're not enough just as you are, than no matter what you attain, it will never, ever be enough to make you feel like you're finally, truly enough. 

If you're tired of cursing, critiquing and condemning your body and behavior, than I encourage you to bring compassionate curiosity to the false belief that you're not enough. The simple act of bringing awareness to it--and the thoughts and actions it triggers--is the first step toward releasing it. 

Ask yourself, "How does this belief show up in my life? What role does it play in my suffering?"

Remember...

You choose your beliefs. 

And your beliefs create your life. 

You have the power to change them.

The choice is yours.

And, if you believe it's hard to release the belief that you're not enough, realize that this, too, is just a belief.

To Your Enough-ness.