Monday, February 20, 2012 - Comments 1
By Valerie Cunningham
I sat on the couch in the office of my dietician, anxious to hear her thoughts. During my last appointment some concern was raised, as I had recently fallen back into some unhealthy eating disorder behaviors. So this session was an important one. Something needed to change – and quickly. She asked me how I was doing and I responded that I had been more consistent with my eating than I had been in the months prior. Intrigued, she queried as to what had changed. I sat there shaking my head, as to imply that nothing had changed. And then, after a long pause, I uttered these magic words: “What has changed is that I am hungry.”
I thought she was going to jump out of her chair at the sound of those simple words. And for the next thirty minutes she shared with me what a gift – a blessing – it was that I was feeling hunger again.
That afternoon was a pivotal one, as I was reminded that hunger is my friend. To be hungry means that my body is working, functioning as it should. I was reassured that to feel hunger is normal, a God-given gift. My dietician explained that it is a natural response for the body, during stressful times, to have a reduced appetite. No appetite plus a history of anorexic tendencies equals a possible relapse. So the fact that I was experiencing hunger pangs and tummy growlings was the first step in getting back on track with my recovery. Hunger had prompted my motivation to eat again, and that was a wonderful thing. Lastly, she applauded me for exercising self-care (something we talk about a lot). By honoring the most basic need of survival, I was taking care of myself.
I am ever so grateful that my body eventually kicked into gear, and that I honored the hunger instead of denying it, which would have only prolonged my suffering. When in doubt, don’t fight the hunger. Accept the gift.
Valerie Cunningham is a wife and homeschool mom. She is in her 6th year of recovery from a 22 year battle with anorexia. Currently she leads a support group for disordered eaters at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.