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The Need to Feed…

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week, focusing on body image, and we’re delighted to welcome Bramham Therapy counsellors Rachel Cooper and Deb Burch as our guest bloggers, tackling the subject of food and the body: 

Hunger. Food. Longing. The need to feed is so developmentally early that any curiosity around hunger brings us back to the deepest parts of ourselves, perhaps long ignored. Most of us eat at least three times a day, and we usually do it unconsciously. But if we can hold the intention of listening to our hunger we can find a pathway back to our true, fully subjective selves.  

What is it that – deep down – you really long for? It’s probably not jammy dodgers. How do you listen to that fire in your belly and create a life with you at its core, if the core of you is being sedated, stuffed or starved? If you don’t trust your hunger, how do you trust your body? If you don’t trust your body because you’ve learned to call it too big or too greedy, how do you tune into what lies ready to be expressed through you? Yes, you — this living, loving, breathing, hungry, biosphere that longs to grow and evolve like any other. 

The meaning of the word satisfaction is interesting. Satis (Latin) means enough. Facere means to make. So to be satisfied means to have made enough. It follows that denial of your hunger, through too much or too little control, is essentially a denial of what you might make of yourself. Reflecting on these issues, we have decided to run a workshop called ‘Food, Hunger, Longing and the Body’. You can find more details below. Both of us are drawn to this work through our own personal experiences. 

Deb writes: “I’ve had a particular interest in the gut since an anterior resection for colon cancer in Dec 2015. After the initial op I had an ileostomy (procedure to bypass the colon) for eight months. When I finally had this reversed, complications led to ten days of vomiting despite a nasogastric tube. The whole experience changed me. I couldn’t ‘work on’ or work out what was happening. I just had to experience it all. After the ileostomy reversal, during my epic vomiting, I shared a ward with three amazing women. One in her thirties who has since died of the same disease, a 92 year-old who snored louder than I would’ve imagined humanly possible and a third who had grand mals (epileptic seizures) several times during the day and night. (Old age, sickness and death, as the Buddha would remind us.)

Despite working on myself therapeutically for more than twenty years, this was a full-blown baptism into the vulnerability and intimate power of being viscerally human, in glorious, gory detail. The sisterly sharing of contortions and evacuations with absolutely no judgement made me review my relationship with my gut. I started being more interested in what my body was saying and needing and less interested in what I thought or even felt about it. I tuned into my gut with my heart and was moved. It was like the bass in my symphony had been missing. 

I love helping others realise they too have the guts (as it were) to stop listening to others and start listening to the fire of truth in their bellies.”

Rachel writes: “Growing up I was one of four siblings under the age of seven!  Time was clearly stretched for my mother and I realise now that I longed to have a bigger share of her love and attention – the share that was available to me was too limited to meet my needs. As a child there were times that I stole from the desserts that had been portioned out for my siblings and me. In my own young way, with my limited life experience, vocabulary and understanding, I was literally taking sweetness dished out by my mother from my sisters’ portions in order to increase my own share. Even at that early age, my relationship with food provided much insight into my deepest emotional needs and longings.

Of course I was scolded for taking what wasn’t mine, as my mother would have been just as unaware of the reasons behind my actions as I was.  Having been brought up to be well behaved I developed some shame for my actions and, therefore, shame for the reason behind my actions, my longing for the love I needed and deserved. This led to a continued pull towards sweet treats in an attempt to fill longings for the love I craved, whether from others, from life, or, most significantly, from myself.  My understanding of all this brings me the freedom to make more conscious choices, physically and emotionally. This transformation inspires me to help others understand their own relationships with food and hunger.”

During our workshop we will use visualisation, large group sharing and deeper work in small groups where you can look more intimately at your relationship with eating and longing. The workshop is not specifically about helping you lose weight. We’re not nutritionists or eating disorder experts. But if you look at how you’re eating, you can discover what formative relationships are perhaps unfinished. As you say good-bye to these unconscious dependencies, you find that your own truth has been here, deep inside, all along. If ending your confusion between a desire for wholeness and a desire for tiramisu helps you lose weight, then great. But the freedom, authority and power that come from wholeness bring far greater results than that. 

Rachel and Deb’s workshop takes place on Sat 6 and Sun 7 July 2019 from 10 – 5 in Thatcham, near Newbury. To book or enquire further, please call or email:

Deb 07957 111693,

Rachel 07969 036448, 

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