Hunger is Not the Problem – Food is Not the Solution – Exploring Other Hungers

Triggers, associations and social conditioning and habits 

Habits are for the sake of efficiency  – our brain uses 25% of our energy and well they like to be efficient with our energy … if we can go on auto pilot all the better .

Emotion  –  reward 

Work hard –  deserve reward  – food 

Word hard – need escape  – food 

Regardless of whether we are hungry or not 

Association between doing work that was challenging and eating. Mind recognises challenges and thinks “ hang on … I need to escape … how about going to the kitchen to get something to eat. Work can conjure up so many emotions in us on a daily basis …. challenged, incapable, nervous, overwhelmed, bored. 

We need to take a breath, create space in our mind and bring a self awareness to what is happening in that moment. Check in on physical hunger levels, no I’m not hungry so food is not the solution right now ….. 

What else do I need ….. we will deep dive in to this next week. 

How else can I soothe and comfort and feel compassion and care and satisfy the physical needs. 

Sitting with this can cause discomfort but we need to learn to how to change our behaviours. Learn to sit with the emotion for a moment rather than numb it or run away from it with food. 

When we are looking for food to soothe we have emotional memories and that food is wrapped up with a kind hug, a compassionate smile, a caring tone of voice, love… those are the things we are really feeling in the memory .. not the actual food. 

As parents going forward to help the next generation we need to not wash over the emotion or brush it under the carpet but actually acknlowdge with the child the distress, help them name the emotion  / emotions they are feeling and valid them.  Don’t try to whitewash the original distress, don’t try to avoid the unpleasant feeling give them the skills to learn to sit with the emotion in a safe space … you their adult.  

Actually sitting with feelings is nothing mystical or magical. It involves paying attention to the body sensations that go with the emotion. For example, when you feel happy you may feel an openness in the chest with an ease of breathing or anxiety may cause knots in the stomach and tightness in the chest. These physical sensations vary from person to person.

To sit with an emotion we need to identify the major physical sensation and pay close attention to that, as if we were a loving mother observing her baby.

We all eat when we are not hungry. We do it for myriad of reasons. Sometimes we are eating because we have been socially conditioned to eat at a certain time, or we are triggered toe at certain foods when we are in the company of certain people, different locations and environments can trigger us to eat, over eat and mindlessly eat too. Mindful eating is about bringing an non judgmental awareness  and a curiosity to the present moment of eating. It is about becoming self aware and delving a little deeper . As I always say…. Maybe just maybe it is time we begin to consider it is not all about what we eat but how we eat and why we eat. 

Taking a pause and a breath will allow us time to respond in a more calm and rational manner than rashly reacting to a trigger which may make us eat when hunger is not the problem. 

So what are these other reason we eat when we are not hungry … what is triggering us to reach for food when we have no physical sensation of hunger ? 

There are many triggers 

Simply put there are 7 other hungers besides physical hunger 

Cellular Hunger  – lets start with the basics of science. When we feel we want “something” and we perceive this as a want for food even though we are not hungry  we need to tune in , bring a deep level of self awareness and tuning into to our bodies physical sensations to begin to ask and become curious about what physically is our body seeking  – in a lot of cases it can be hydration rather than food. Start here and then begin to ask… what do I really feel like  –  something sweet or salty ? Something liquid or solid ? Something citrus or creamy ? 

Eye Hunger  –  see food  –  want food –  eat food. –  design your environment so you are only seeing and experiencing the foods you really want . 

Bring an awareness to it is simply seeing the food that is triggering you and stop, pause., take a breath and respond by answering the question  – if I hadn’t seen that food would I have even wanted it 

Mouth hunger  –  your mouth gets bored .we have an incredible amount of pleasure and sensory receptors in our mouth. Chewing food, feeling textures, sensing and appreciating flavours on out tongue is one of the most pleasurable experiences on the planet.  Our mouth knows this, out mouth remembers this …. And it seeks out this pleasure. When we chew food it offers us propiocpetive input into the body. 

Mouth hunger is our bodies way of seeking this out and helping us to feel regulated. 

Eye hunger  – see food, want food, eat food. So many are triggered by the visually pleasing aesthetics of food. Our bodies are hungry for beauty and the bright colours, the packaging, the presentation is all trying to over ride the information you mouth, stomach and body are communicating. 

Nose hunger – flavour is the primary driver for allowing us to enjoy food. The more delicious it tastes the better.  However flavour is so much more than the tastes that is determined by taste bud receptors on our tongue. Our tongues are actually only able to taste five flavours – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (glutamates and amino acids which offer a protein-like taste) Humans, on the other hand, can smell ten thousand different smells. Flavour is made up of aroma and taste and both work together. Aroma and smell also hold the power to act as powerful memory triggers and within an instant we can be transported to another time and place which can then link to powerful emotions and bring us to a place of heart hunger. 

Heart Hunger  –  this is when our heart is hungry for something . Not your stomach but your heart. What does your heart need ? In a lot of cases, if you give yourself a little time and allow yourself to hear and feel what your body is trying to tell you you will can bring a non judgemental curiosity to what your heart and what she is experiencing.   We have been socially conditioned to believe that food will ease, calm and soothe our emotions. It will help with the pain and the emotion. The sadness, the stress, the anxiety. Food will distract and numb you in that moment however when he food is gone the emotion will still be there. 

Mind Hunger – this is based on boredom and procrastination as a trigger.Our mind is seeking stimulation, alertness, satisfaction and we seek out food for the purposes of interest and excitement and joy. Our state of mind and mindset is detrained by out thoughts.

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