So many of us women fear our appetite. We’re scared to eat that brownie, macaroni or cake because “it’s going to make us fat.” When we give in, we tell our friends, “I was so bad today. I ate a brownie!” We’ve come to believe this is the most horrible thing a woman can do!
This is not true. This is the story we tell ourselves because we’ve been programmed to believe feeding our appetite is wrong.
Our appetite is what keeps us alive. Without it, we wouldn’t know when to eat. We would starve and die! So why have we turned this survival mechanism into something that makes us feel guilt, shame and disgust?
Look at Eve! She wanted that apple so badly. She had an appetite for it, craved it, desired it. So she took a bite. She fulfilled her appetite but was then shamed, kicked from the garden and made a disgrace. Eve’s story may have been the start of female shame and guilt when it comes to feeding the appetite.
Many of us continue to fight our appetite with every fiber of our beings. We don’t want to be kicked from our garden, so we hang onto the fear: “If I let myself experience my full appetite, there will be no end to what I devour.”
We’re making the very thing that gives us life, our appetite, a cause for emotional turmoil.
We’ve become so used to shaming our appetite as a “guilty pleasure” that we truly believe we’re wrong for wanting to appease it. When we do, we fall into an endless pit of desire that won't stop.
When you desire something, do you feel guilty for thinking about what you want? What about shame for getting what you want because you didn’t “earn” it? Or guilt and shame for being “bad” — like eating that brownie or saying no to a request of our time?
Society often enforces these concepts. If you love sex, you’re a whore. If you love food, you’re a glutton and you’ll get fat when you should be skinny. If you love money, you’re greedy.
Many of us say we want “freedom” when it comes to food and body image, but when we deny or invalidate our natural appetite, we’re creating our own jail cell that keeps us trapped in our current way of being.
Here’s a secret: As our own jailers, we hold the key. We get to decide whether we consider our appetite good or bad.
Our appetite and desires lead us to our truth. So how can we allow for our true selves to step forward if we’re always shying away?
If we continue to fear what we want, we prevent ourselves from fully experiencing life. Some of us believe that if we connect with our sexuality, we’ll want to sleep with everyone we see. If we let ourselves make great money, we’ll become greedy, self-centric women.
What if the opposite were true? Your body doesn’t want to overindulge. It knows when to stop. The challenge lies in listening to its wisdom and separating your thoughts and emotions from your body’s intuition.
Instead of feeding the fear of your own appetite, let’s get curious and embrace it. In my work, my goal is to help you feel empowered to take charge of your feelings, thoughts and decisions.
Be in Charge Instead of in Control
We’ve gotten so used to focusing on maintaining our willpower, avoiding “bad” foods, counting calories and logging exercise. These restrictive behaviors lead to the guilt and shame associated with feeding our appetite because they’re so easily sabotaged and lead to feeling out of control.
Being in charge of your appetite keeps you focused on your intention of doing what you love without experiencing the guilt because you make intentional choices that leave you feeling empowered.
Know You Are Capable
You’ve always had the power to make your decisions without all the rules and restrictions. Never allowing yourself sweetness feeds feelings of guilt and shame when you do indulge. Instead of following a plan desperately and strictly, listen to your body.
Give Yourself Grace
Acknowledging your appetite can be hard since you may have spent a lifetime hushing it. Giving up the idea that your appetite and desires are bad may sound scary, even impossible. Allow yourself the room to have setbacks and experience doubt and frustration.
Learning how to give up restrictions will change your relationship with your appetite and what was once so scary — cookies, money, sex — will lose its power over you.
Instead of starting another diet this new year, let’s begin to lay the foundation for a new life where you embrace your appetite and desires — a life you’re excited to live, a life where you say yes to yourself.
What if embracing your appetite left you happy beyond measure?
What if it never needed to be so damn hard?
To learn more about working with Rebecca Pfanner, visit her website ModavateCoaching.com.