Have you ever eaten because you were bored, stressed, sad, angry, lonely, or tired? Or have that faint feeling of needing something but you don’t know what it is?
Hunger signals can be a tricky thing to decipher. The key to connecting to your true appetite is PRACTICE and learning how your brain responds to the real cues that are hunger versus the other cues that could be emotional or reactive.
For example, Pavlovian Conditioning happened when the Russian Physiologist was observing dog’s salivating. He noticed that the dogs became conditioned to salivate when he entered the room whether he was going to feed them or not. This conditioning could be in your psyche from childhood, or from a trauma where you were hungry and there was no food available and left you conditioned to not trust or feel safe.
So, when that feeling of needing something comes into your awareness, pause for at least 10-15 minutes and notice what past conditioning may be present to help shift this conditioning. Here are some other ideas to help support your tricky hunger:
- Observation: Notice how hungry you are at meal times. Track your hunger on a scale of 1-5. Is your stomach growling? Is it the only time you can eat through out the day? Do you feel that food is supporting you physically or emotionally? There is no judgement as you are practicing. Do not over think that you need more protein or fat or vegetables, just pause and feel for a bit. Science suggests we can go without food (not water) for 3-8 weeks, so we usually are not in starvation mode, especially if your stress hormones are balanced. Waiting until your stomach is growling can support the digestive process to breakdown your meals and utilize the vitamins and minerals more efficiently.
- True Needs & Desires: If you have that feeling of needing something and you are not hungry, pause and ask what are you truly hungry for? Most of the time you could be thirsty and tired. Otherwise it could be a strong emotion and you need to talk to someone, journal, go for a walk or rest. Allow yourself to feel your feelings and address them. It is your duty to support yourself with love and compassion and not push it down with food or criticism.
- Hunger Tolerance: If you feel hungry everyday @ 3 pm and/or 9 pm, practice the above ideas and delay this snack by a few minutes every day. This will decrease the discomfort and find out if you are truly hungry by not feeding it unconsciously. You may also notice more energy, because you body isn’t busy processing food, it can utilize fat stores and give you that second wind you may be looking for. When I have a mentally active day, I tend to want to eat less to help my brain be on its “A” game. Again, this is your own journey and you may need a snack to keep your brain rocking.
- Change the condition: You may eat because you are bored, anxious or under stimulated. Add in a new habit to your routine to challenge your mind and body. Whether it is a new hobby, physical activity, class, laughter, or a new friend, this may be what you were truly missing vs feeding that emptiness it in front of the T.V.
- Ask for support: Ah man, we all need support. That other person’s respect and perspective may be exactly what you need to hear. We have our group Jump Start beginning next week, June 6th. This is the perfect place to explore your true hunger signals in a safe environment. Also, I am adding a daily curiosity challenge to help you feel more empowered with your food choices. Click here to sign up for the last Jump Start before summer
I have personally ate when I was tired, thirsty, emotional, happy, sad, and mad. I hope to emotionally eat with consciousness and love until I am an old woman. We do not have to deny ourselves, we just want to add in more self-love and awareness around this choice. Understanding when we are ready to feel it all, or take small bites out of these major feelings.
Cheers to trusting yourself on your authentic journey,
Heather Fleming, C.C.N