How do you know when something other than hunger is driving you to eat?
Often, especially in our fast-paced North American society, our desires for comfort, entertainment, distraction, rest, and a myriad of other feelings are often confused for hunger signals. When we eat, many times we do so in order to try to fix a problem that is not hunger-related. As a result, the food does not satisfy us, though we continue to eat. This causes further frustration, because now, not only have we have not found the answer to our original (often subconscious) dilemma, but we must also deal with the discomfort and guilt from our mindless and un-enjoyed overindulgence.
How do we stop medicating ourselves with food when food is not what we really want or need?
We have to find our if we’re actually hungry. Food can only be the answer when hunger is the problem. However, In a society that turns to food for many non physiological reasons including experiences of struggle, triumph, community, frustration, and many others, how do you determine if what you’re feeling is hunger or if it’s something completely non-related?
Here are 3 simple questions: The Big Three, specifically designed to help you differentiate between the mass of experiences and feelings in your mind.
1. Are You Thirsty?
-Many people confuse being thirsty for being hungry, especially during times of dehydration, such as when they get up in the morning, or when they are working hard and forget about taking care of themselves. Thirst, just like hunger, is a physical need, and your body will demand sustenance. However, it is up to you to be able to give your body the sustenance that it is really asking for.
-No matter how much food you eat, if you are thirsty, you may still feel feel unsatisfied because you are feeding the wrong thing. A great tip is to make it a habit of drinking water when you get up in the morning and before you eat. This will give you the liberty to enjoy your food knowing that you are actually supporting your body rather than misunderstanding it.
2. Are You Tired?
-It is a proven fact that when you are sleepy or tired, your brain will activate hunger signals in order to help keep yourself awake. The brain reasons that the food will give you more energy so that you can power through whatever you need to do and combat the fatigue. It is a logical response, however, in many cases, what you really need is sleep or rest, not food.
-So before reaching for a snack, ask yourself if you are being influenced by fatigue, if perhaps instead of eating you should take a power-nap to re-charge or go to sleep early. When your body is rested, it is happy, and that’s when you can really enjoy your food.
3. Are You Unhappy?
-From feeling sad, to angry, to fearful, to worried, to depressed to distraught—any of these influential emotions and many more can wreak havoc with your eating. It is a natural human inclination seek pleasure and avoid pain, and when you are in the throes of emotion, either consciously or unconsciously, your body wants to help you escape. And too often, food seems like the best option.
-However, eating to feel better does not address the real problem, and it may further cloud your ability to recognize, face, and correct what is actually wrong. So ask yourself, truly and deeply, are you hungry, or is there something else going on in your life that you need to address first? Start with that. Your stomach will thank you for it.
It is a huge step in the right direction to be able to differentiate between your restless stomach and your restless heart. But this knowledge alone will not solve the problem, as food still tastes good, and you may still be tempted to continue eating, even though you recognize that doing so will not satisfy your root need.
How do you restrain from over-indulging when you know it won’t solve the Root Problem, but it will still provide comfort in the moment?
Stay tuned 🙂