Nutrition Vs Nourishment

“I have a deeply hidden and inarticulate desire for something beyond the daily life.” – Virginia Woolf

Do You Ignore Your Hunger ?

How often do your thoughts drift to food?  

How often are these thoughts some kind of check-and-balancing act? Do you do a cyclical dance between craving, planning, wanting, indulging, or avoiding? This tiresome push-pull with food is whispering something to you. And it’s not what you should eat for supper. 

Hunger is a beautiful thing.  Your body expressed a need, how spectacular! Yet, in all this perpetual thinking about what to eat or what not to eat, have you asked yourself if food is the only thing you’re hungry for? 

It is quite possible you are getting all of the nutrients you need. And none of the nourishment. 

Nutrition Vs Nourishment

Nutrition is what goes in your bowl. Sustenance. Vitamins. Minerals. 

Nourishment encompasses everything inside your bowl and beyond it.  Every emotion, behavior, sensation that fuels your cravings. 

There’s an elation that arises from a magical night around the table, isn’t there? I would offer that your satisfaction has little to do with what you ate. I would offer it is a direct hit of how connected you felt, to others, to yourself, to the astonishing splendor of colors and textures and night sky. 

Nourishment feeds your life force; perfect nutrition does not.  Food perfectionism will keep you forever hungry; for the next hit of deliciousness to fill your empty bowl, for a slim figure or “better” body, for  your personal fantasy of rightness. Food perfectionism will also serve its purpose brilliantly; it will keep you from hearing your deeper longing, your deeper ache–maybe even your deeper fear. 

Experimentation + Play is the Only Way

Let’s pause. 

What’s happening inside you right now? Linger for a beat to check in.

Nourishment starts with simply inhabiting your body. Here is an experiment to practice alone or with willing participants at meal time:

As you ready yourself to sit down to eat, let it become quiet. Turn off music, put away phones and generally limit conversation to a minimum. 

Stay in relative silence as you arrive at the table. If you are sharing this meal, use more eye contact and touch than words to communicate. Before you begin to eat, take in the whole scene: your plate, your environment, your company. Take in your internal scene: sensations, thoughts, feelings. 

Let your eyes settle somewhere pleasurable and stay there. Perhaps it’s the meal in front of you, perhaps it’s your partner’s eyes. 

Breathe. Breathe into the front and back of you. Breathe into the right and left. 

Inhale deeply. As you exhale, let out a long sigh and let your jaw go slack. You might even make noise, stick your tongue out…let go, just a little . 

Begin eating and talking whenever you feel ready. 

Check in with yourself and your dinner mates, “What was that like for you?”

Stay With It + Let Yourself Make Mistakes

No matter your weight, shape or history, welcoming all of you to the table takes vulnerability. It may be awkward, even frightening at first. It also brings the promise of wild fulfillment. 

You may or may not struggle with an eating disorder or body image issues, but still find yourself craving an elusive feeling of real aliveness.

Your wellbeing lives in you, not in food nor exercise . It lives in your relationship to yourself, your loved ones and your planet.  

Keaton Flicker {AMFT, NC}  is a therapist and nutritionist in Los Angeles who helps clients befriend their bodies. To explore more nourishment practices or to work with her visit here.