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As I look around at the way people are in relationship to the body I see:

 

  • loathing

  • distancing

  • numbing

  • hopes for change

  • plans to fix

A fair question to pose seems to be:

When are we allowed to exist fully in our bodies exactly as they are?

In working with clients who struggle with their bodies through chronic dieting, binge eating, and/or body shame, a theme that often emerges is around control.

I see both ends of the spectrum.

There are those who feel hopelessly out of control in the way they approach eating and then there are those who tightly control every morsel that passes their lips. Even more common are those who swing between these two extremes.

There is so much collective pain and energy mobilized around how we nourish ourselves often in an effort to control our bodies.

Control is linked to big, important concepts such as power, autonomy, trust, agency, and spirituality that are elemental to what it means to be an actualized person living in relationship to other people.

An antidote to the futile pursuit of controlling the body is being in the body. And for some with painful histories, that shift takes time, patience, and often support.

A good place to start the journey back into the body is learning to connect deeply to the body’s signals of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. These are all things that we do not have to work to control so much as allowing for the body to guide us. A brilliant way to work with this is in the evidence-based process of intuitive, or attuned, eating which involves:

 

  • dismantling outdated beliefs

  • processing emotional wounds

  • fully inhabiting our whole selves

It is a process of letting go of excessive internal and external control, while moving toward:

  • curiosity

  • experimentation

  • listening

  • trusting

  • boundary creation

No amount of nutritional tips, meditations, bubble baths, mindful tea drinking, action plans, or positive affirmations get to the core of addressing the long standing, complex wounds so many carry when it comes to food, eating, and body shame.

This is deep work. This is the work I support people to do, when they are ready.

 

Jennifer DiGennaro MA, LLPC, is a psychotherapist and couples counselor in private practice in Grand Rapids, MI. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Certified Body Trust® Provider and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, as well as the founder of Nourished Energy. She specializes in treating chronic dieting, binge eating disorder, body image concerns, trauma, PTSD, mood disorders and relationship issues. She brings a deep passion for social justice to her trauma-informed, evidence-based and heart-centered clinical work. She is committed to ending the war that is waged against bodies in our culture. Learn more at: www.nourishedenergy.com/meet-jen/