How to Reclaim Your Body Wisdom
By: Masha Sardari MS, RD, LDN
Published: May 28, 2024

Tapping into this oft-hidden intelligence can help people with eating disorders get better.

A common characteristic in those living with eating disorders (EDs) is they don’t always trust what their body or intuition is telling them. Or they ignore those messages altogether.

Body: “That was a hunger pang. Time to eat something.”

Mind: “I’m just really busy right now. I’ll pick something up later.”


Body: “You’re exhausted, you need to get some rest.”

Mind: “How can I be tired? I didn’t even get my gym workout in today.”


Body: “You’re full now, you probably need to stop eating.”

Mind: “I can’t be full yet.”

In those ways and countless others, people become alienated from what their bodies and intuition are telling them.

They then place more emphasis on their reason and logic, and disregard the important things their body, sensations, and emotions are saying. The result is a flawed assessment of themselves and their reality, because they’re only getting a fraction of the information available to them.

People in this state often feel such anxiety and doubt, and their decision-making can become faulty.

Bottom line: People who ignore or distrust their body wisdom aren’t benefitting from an incredibly important data set. With this blogpost, I will suggest ways to reclaim that wisdom.

Body wisdom explained

Body wisdom is the concept that our bodies possess an innate wisdom that ensures our survival and works to maintain balance at a subconscious level.

Being aware of the body and its somatic intelligence increases our understanding of the connection between external sensations and the internal environment. That connection allows us to experience living as a whole rather than as a separate brain and body.

Body wisdom encompasses:

Physical sensations: These are basic, well known, and difficult to ignore, though people sometimes do that. They include heat, cold, pain, achiness, dizziness, things you touch, and things that touch you.

Emotions: These include everything you can mentally feel (sadness, happiness, anger, and so on), as opposed to things you can know or not know, which are about cognition and reason.

Gut feelings: Also known as intuition, these feelings connect to deeper needs and desires. People with EDs sometimes lose sight of their gut feelings, or disregard them in favor of their so-called rational thoughts.

Body language: When someone is truly relaxed or confident, their body language reflects that, and people see it. The opposite is also true. Here at Koru Spring, I sometimes have residents say to me “I’m fine” or “I’m doing great,” but they are almost wincing with their bodies as they’re saying it. In other words, their mind is not in sync with their body language.

Energy levels: At its most basic, a person’s energy level communicates either a need for rest (low energy), or the desire to move and to explore the world (high energy).

With each of the important signals listed above, your body might be saying: “Hello. I am giving you information. Please respond.”

To hear that request clearly, and respond to it naturally, is the way to tap into your body wisdom.

Building pathways to your body wisdom

Somewhere along the way, and for reasons unique to every individual, people with EDs sometimes lose touch with their body wisdom.

It’s as if the body and brain are speaking two different languages, and there’s no interpreter around to help them communicate.

At Koru Spring, we teach our residents tools that help them reconnect with their body wisdom. Here are three:

  • Practice mindfulness. Sit in a peaceful place, close your eyes, and breathe slowly and deeply for several minutes. This helps bring about stillness, and quiets the thoughts, which creates space for the body’s intelligence and sensations to show themselves. It’s like trying to hear someone speaking quietly in the corner of a room, but you’re at a table full of people yelling and trying to get your attention. Mindfulness helps you quiet those voices, so you can hear that person across the room telling you something important.
  • Do a body scan. In a quiet, mindful state, mentally scan your body from the top of your head to your toes. Pause briefly at each location, and check for any sensations. Is that muscle tight? Does that area feel tense or tired? Is there soreness in that spot? Move slowly and deliberately down the body in this manner.
  • Move mindfully. A good way to do this is through gentle yoga poses, or with tai chi. Or something even simpler like a slow, intentional walk across a grassy yard or down a shady park path. Try to focus only on your breathing and your movement for 5 to 10 minutes. Make a mental note of anything that your body is telling you.

Keeping a small pad of paper or a journal with you is a great way to capture any sensations you’re feeling during these activities. Notice things, be curious, and write down what messages your body is sending you.

Take time for these mindful activities each day if possible, and see where they lead. This can help you tune in to your body’s important signals.

Final thoughts on body wisdom

Your body’s wisdom is always available to you. You just need to start paying attention and listening for it, and keep doing that over time. Eventually, you’ll get there, and it’ll become second nature.

It can be a powerful thing when our minds begin collaborating with our bodies, rather than clashing with them. And it’s powerful when we incorporate our body’s wise guidance into our decision-making, rather than ignoring it or distrusting it.

Many people with eating disorders think that if they trust their bodies, and go with their gut, they’ll feel out of control.

But the opposite often happens. Once they build that bridge between their mind and body, and learn to trust it, they feel more in control, more confident, and more content.


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