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Satisfying cellular hunger

Having a healthy relationship with food and eating mindfully, means being able to turn our awareness inwards to listen to what our body is telling us it needs.  Listening to our instinctive needs is the basis of tuning into cellular hunger.

As babies, we have an instinctive awareness about what we need to eat, but as we grow older this inner connection gets lost as we are bombarded with advice on what food to have and when to have it.  Let’s take salt as an example.  Most of us have lost our ability to know whether our body has too much or too little salt.  For example, people are prone to heat stoke if they spend a long time in the heat and sweat excessively, due to the loss of mineral salts, whilst others suffer with high blood pressure due to excessive salt consumption.  Our dietary habits tend to reflect what we think we should eat, based on what we’ve been advised, rather than listening to our unique individual needs.

You may notice seasonal aspects to cellular hunger.  In the winter, for example, as the temperature drops your body is likely to call for more food to keep you warm, whereas in the summer you’re likely to want less food.  This is natural, as we need more calories to keep the inner furnace going in the winter and shivering burns extra calories. 

Through mindfulness we can become more sensitive to cellular hunger and learn to separate what the body actually needs from what our mind is demanding.  If we listen carefully enough we can step in the right direction of being able to do what animals do – that is to taste a food and know it is what we need.  In this way we would eat a banana when our cells called for more potassium, sea vegetables when we needed more iodine or peppers if we needed more vitamin C.

The essential elements that satisfy cellular hunger are water, salt, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.  Being deficient is any one of these will therefore result in cell hunger.  Normally we aren’t very good at identifying which one our body needs, but when we are ill and our attention is focused in on ourselves we often get a clearer message about what we need to eat. 

To satisfy cellular hunger we therefore need to get in tune with our body and to ask it what it needs.  Take time to stop and pause both before and during a meal to gauge what it is that your system wants.  What is it hungry for? Solid or liquid? Vegetables?  Root or leafy? Citrus? Salty?  Taking time to focus your awareness on your body will allow you to tune in and give it what it needs, rather than what you planned to feed it when you drew up your meal plan last weekend.

Cellular hunger affects everyone, but can be a particular problem in cases of binge eating and other disordered eating patterns.  If you have a question about disordered eating then please do give us a call to see if we can help you, or to book a consultation at one of our London nutrition clinics.

Julia

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