Listening to my body was a new step for me. I was taught that protein was 'good food', and that plants were 'low calorie', and fats were 'bad food'. I remember knowing how to count calories by age 10 or so. Listening to my body was irrelevant. And our food was every artificial color of the rainbow, daily: puddings, jello, kool-aid, candy, frosting, Lucky Charms, jelly beans, medications, flavored milk, Orange Soda, ice cream, etc. etc. We did have
"square meals"; but we had to sit there and eat it all, hungry or not. Like it or not.
Listening to whether I wanted something salty or crunchy or sweet or creamy or fresh or cooked, or not at all, was not on my radar. I was provided food and I was expected to eat what was served. (gosh, I can hear my mother's voice saying these phrases in my head)
So, my first step (as an adult) was to observe how different foods made me feel. And as I learned to recognize that I was hungry, rather than "it was time to eat", I started to notice, 'hmmm... I think I want something sweet or salty or creamy, etc.' Then I began to ask ds those questions, rather than "What do you want to eat?". Often, he'd be able to articulate, "I want something crunchy" and we'd discuss the options available or how we could address this food desire. Gradually, we both learned how to listen to our bodies.
And I started to notice that I'd feel hungry soon after something really sweet and I'd mention that. Also, I'd mention, 'I'm feeling grouchy, I haven't eaten in a while. Maybe I need to get something to eat.' Or more commonly, I'd BE grouchy and notice, 'hmmm... I must be hungry' and I'd voice that observation. The kicker was when ds suggested, "Mom, you are grouchy, you need to eat."
And in turn, I've mentioned, 'Ds, remember when you ate the dairy ice cream last time and you were running and bumping into everything?' Or 'Ds, do you notice that you are really loud and you just ate all of those artificial colors in the sprinkles?' to help him become aware of the patterns as we noticed them. He'll say, "I'm loud because I had artificial colors, mama. No, I can't be quiet right now."
So, together, we've learned to listen to our bodies and to observe for patterns and to talk about our experiences. We've been doing that for years. Ds is much more able to say, "No, I don't want any cake." than I was for years and years because cake was a reward and controlled and doled out, irrelevant of desire for eating something sweet.
And as an aside, I no longer crave sweets after being on a whole foods diet. Other than chocolate, which is a fruit, you know! ;-)