Developing Body Trust
In a previous job I worked as a manager with a large staff. I learned very quickly that one of the most important elements of a successful team is trust. It is so important, in fact, that a quick google search of “trust at work” leads to thousands of articles and seminars. There are even entire organizations devoted to developing trust in work teams. The deeper I dove into learning about trust in teams, the more I started to see all of the places trust showed up in my life - it is literally everywhere. Trust is one of the most important elements in every relationship we have.
It makes sense to me, then, that we see trust come up often with the clients we work with in the form of body trust. Similarly to trust in a relationship, when we don’t have body trust it is nearly impossible to feel comfortable in our relationship with food and eating. Also similarly to trust between two people, body trust is a two-way street. We need to trust that when we give our bodies what they need they will allow us to live more fully in our lives. Our bodies also need to be able to trust that we will reliably and adequately nourish them. When any of these elements is missing we can’t really settle into a groove. It leaves us questioning and second-guessing, spending a large amount of time thinking and worrying about how we should feed ourselves, how much we should move our bodies, and an outward focus on how we should look. Not taking the time to develop trust with our bodies takes away from an inward, grounded focus.
Body trust requires a few components in order to be developed completely. As with developing trust in an interpersonal relationship, we can think of the body as one side of the relationship and the brain or “self” as the other side. The main component our bodies need from our self is reliability. We must be reliable in how we nourish our body. In order to function at its best, the body needs to be able to count on us to feed it enough and at regular intervals.
As for our self part, there is a lot more that is needed in order to develop a trusting relationship with our body. It is important as we work to develop trust in our body to try to take a stance of curiosity and non-judgment. In order for our body to support us to do all of the things we want to do, whether it is to be able to think well enough and have enough energy to be successful in school or at work, to perform our best in sport, to be the parent, partner, or friend we want to be, or to accomplish any other life endeavor, we must approach our body with non-judgment. Our bodies are going to settle into the size and shape that best suits them in order for them to support us being our best versions of ourselves. It is so important to approach them with as much kindness, curiosity, and neutrality as possible.
The self also needs to approach the development of body trust with patience. It can take a long time to learn how to listen to your body. This is particularly true for those who have spent many years ignoring the body’s cues and looking outside to determine what they should be eating or how much they should be moving. If a body is not accustomed to being fed regularly, it can take a long time for it to truly trust that it will be nourished regularly and settle into a normal rhythm. It is really hard for the brain part of us to believe that our bodies are beginning to trust us and settling in. Most of us want to see the impacts of changes we make right away, but that isn’t usually the case. Keeping patience in mind, while practicing consistency will eventually lead us closer to being in tune with our body. While waiting can be hard and learning new patterns can feel frustrating at times, in the long run it is all worth it to get to a place where we can be the best versions of ourselves and our thoughts about food and attempts to alter our body’s natural size and shape can finally take a back seat.
If you are ready to start on your journey of developing a more trusting relationship with your body, our dietitians can help. We are happy to help you learn to navigate feeding your body enough and support you through any issues that may come up along the way. You can schedule an appointment by clicking here.