Eating, unleashing your appetite and developing trust….

I grew up on a farm, but as the youngest of four, I somehow never ended up with a pet of my own, nor with a desire for one. My kids have had a couple of smaller pets, but I never felt ready for a dog. It would be too big of a responsibility, and I somehow knew who would ultimately be responsible! However, last year, we made the big decision, and a beautiful, energetic, rescue puppy came into our lives. Needless to say, he turned our lives upside down. His journey with us, especially with me, having never had my own dog before, reminds me so much of the journey towards a more trusting relationship with food, appetite and body cues. Here’s my analogy!

Milo came to us quite wild with energy and a little scared at first. I was scared too-scared that he will run away, that I will not have control over him. He sat down quite obediently, especially when food was involved, but at night, when I called him in, I was never sure whether he will actually come in. I often feared that he dug a hole to the road, or got out some way. When I eventually found him, he was often just completely side-tracked, following an ever-escaping frog, or a mouse trail or barking back at the neigbouring dogs.

The analogy to eating and trusting?

In this analogy Milo is your appetite and the part of you that you might have gotton out of touch with. It may often feel as if you cannot trust your appetite. You cannot reign it in, cannot control it, it cannot be trusted, and you certainly cannot predict how it will respond. No wonder it feels scary to give it ‘permission’ to speak AND to respond to it appropriately. Years and years of preconceived ideas and dieting have probably taught you that your body & appetite cannot and should not be trusted. How has that worked for you? Has it helped you to become a mature and competent eater? Ideally, the process of growing into a mature and competent eater, involves permission to make mistakes, since it is only through making mistakes that we really get to know the spectrum of sensations such as overfull, a little too full, just right, not a match, too little, or too little too late etc.  It certainly may feel safer in the short-term to put our appetite ‘on a leash ‘so to speak, but it doesn’t lead to lasting peace and trust around food and your body.  Trusting it feels scary. Because what will it do? Will it jump over the borders!? Read further 😊

I quickly realised Milo needed to expend some of his energy regularly and creatively (I was told this beforehand, but didn’t quite realise what it means practically)! When he had too much energy and too little stimulation, he would dig a prominent hole or two in the garden-looking very guilty when reprimanded. We had to learn to give Milo boundaries but also read the signs…. what did he actually need, what did the holes really indicate?  Usually, he needed a combination of mental stimulation (tricks and challenges), some physical exertion and always, regular connection with us, his people.

The analogy to eating and trusting?

When it comes to eating dynamics, we often focus on the ‘hole digging’ (I have overeaten again), and ’filling the holes’ (new diet, new detox), can keep us quite busy. Being busy doing drastic things does indeed give a sense of being productive, but in this scenario, it doesn’t do anything to address the actual problem! Instead, what is needed is to look at the behaviours as symptoms of something else, and these can often be unrelated to food itself. Have you been restricting yourself and thus setting yourself up for a normal physiological response of rectifying that? Have you developed well-trodden foot paths towards food because your skill set to address other actual needs are limited? Just as Milo, you might need some mental stimulation, some physical stimulation and/or deep connection with other humans…. the more you get what you really need, the less ‘’holes’’ will be dug!

I am the one that ended up doing the longer walks with him…. of course! At first, I was hesitant to let him go off his leash…afraid he will not come back, run away even. I eventually went for two dog training lessons (yes, he went with, but the lessons were mostly for ME!) and it really helped me to realise the importance of consistency and short daily practice. Before long, I trusted our relationship enough to let go of the leash when we were on our own, and what a delight it was to see him returning when I called, even waiting for me to catch up with him. My confidence in him grew, and the trust between us grew too.

The analogy to eating and trusting?

I needed a little help on the journey and you may need some help too, even though you know the theory!  The resultant increased trust that emerged between me and Milo over time, with some help and ‘digging deeper’’ is a great picture of the beautiful interaction of listening to our bodies and integrating it with some head knowledge. As trust develops, there’s a dance between head and body. The one waits for the other, attuned to all its needs. As confidence grows, you can trust your body’s appetite more and it rewards you by not going haywire, because it knows it is trusted and it knows it will be listened to. It knows it is safe and free to wander and come back. There are healthy boundaries in place  , but also permission. That is the heart of freedom, in any relationship, instead of fear and distrust.


Milo definitely bonded with us as a family, and I am no longer concerned that he will run away. When he now doesn’t respond to my calls, I do not panic -I do some brainstorming and adjust. Sometimes I have not been consistent in my responses to him, sometimes he just needed more practice coming back to me in a new environment with lots of distractions. When we do leave him he waits for us, knowing we will come back. He also communicates quite clearly with us when he wants to play-there is no doubt when he picks up a toy and nudges it into your legs as to what he wants! Sometimes he just gets a cuddle and sometimes a rough session of playing follows, as is practical and realistic

The analogy to eating and trust?

Getting to know your appetite means you do not have to fear it anymore. It has room to express what it needs and you get to know how to address it most appropriately given the circumstances and based on the history you have together. When new situations brings new challenges you know and trust  yourself well enough to brainstorm and adjust without having to panic….often times all that is needed is more practice.


Need help? I can’t give advice on dog training, but I can help with establishing a better relationship with food and your body. Contact me via my website: or my Facebook page: @Food&Body Conversations. I do virtual consults, short courses and in-person sessions. You decide what you need. Some of us need one or two ‘’lessons’’, some may need a longer journey of support and exploration.

“As confidence grows, you can trust your body’s appetite more and it rewards you by not going haywire, because it knows it is trusted and it knows it will be listened to.”