The Hierarchy of Needs

admin Last updated on: May 27, 2023

By Emily Fonnesbeck

I bet you have seen this before. It is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and I feel like this idea can really help us understand why eating concerns, worries, frustrations and anxieties can feel all-consuming.

When your basic need for food and nourishment is not being met, it becomes much harder, if not impossible to progress through higher levels of feeling safe, loved, worthy and enough.

This is why I HATE dieting. The minute you start a diet you create distrust with your body’s intuition and natural ability to meet your needs. Any set of outside rules creates rigidity, which leads to chaos. This chaos eventually leads back to rigidity and then chaos again. The cure becomes the cause, given restriction breeds rebellion. You end up at war with yourself and living from a place of scarcity and lack.

As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, I would encourage you to practice an attitude of gratitude and abundance. Instead of starting your day with the thought of not enough sleep, not enough time, not enough love, not enough food (scarcity and lack), focus on being and having enough (gratitude and abundance). This shift in mind-set is a game changer. You are able to live in the present and feel peace while progressing to the higher levels of needs such as feeling safe, loved and worthy.

The key is to learn to trust yourself again. This takes work and practice (a lot of it!) and is much harder than following food lists and meal plans. What you need to know is that it is VERY common for an individual learning intuitive eating to still bounce between restriction and chaos. Unlearning dieting habits and thought processes takes time and dedication, especially amid the nutritional noise in our current culture. However, as you continue to practice you will find the pendulum doesn’t swing quite as wide each time and eventually finds center and balance. This process is a wild ride that will teach you about yourself and life in ways you would never learn otherwise. You come out on the other end a confident and compassionate person, at peace with yourself.

You cannot hate your body into one you love. Control and restriction is not the answer. Get out of your head and start connecting with the neck down. Identify physical hunger and embrace it. Enjoy food and use it to fuel and energize you. Identify emotional hunger and listen to it, as well as its warnings. I do not feel that overeating happens because we love food too much. If we truly love something, I believe we would want to enjoy, savor and nurture the relationship. Love is not using food to numb, hide, distract or hurt yourself. I feel overeating happens because we do not love food, ourselves and our lives enough.

This holiday season, practice an attitude of gratitude and abundance. Celebrate your body and all it can do for you. Give yourself the gift of being enough and embrace all that you have and are!

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