When untangling the web of of a dysfunctional relationship to food, learning to work WITH your hunger, rather than AGAINST it, is a key piece of the puzzle.
Yo-yo dieting and rigid food rules disconnect us from knowing what hunger is. Your job now is to re-connect. And more importantly, HONOR it.
I know this isn’t always easy to tease out. For a lot of people with food or overeating/emotional eating struggles, the feeling of “hunger” might always seem like it’s for food. If this resonates with you, fear not. I got through it, so can you.
Step 1. Ask yourself: “How do I know that I am hungry?”
Be curious about where in your body you feel hunger. If you were describing your hunger to a non-human, how would you describe it? What information does your body give you to alert “hunger”?
For me, often when I go to reach for food, instead of analyzing calories or whether I can “allow” myself to eat it~ I evaluate if I’m biologically hungry/in need of fuel. Sometimes I think I am, in fact, physically hungry. Then when I check in (for me, the check-in place is in my lower gut region) I realize that it’s not a physical hunger. Many times it’s thirst.
Other times it’s blaringly obvious (I feel weak, my thinking is foggy) and when I consult with myself, I discover that yep- I need some food.
Step 2. Ask, “What it is I’m REALLY hungry for and how can I honor that?”
When I check in (which, by the way, used to take a decent amount of practice, now only takes a second) and discover, yes, my body needs fuel then the follow-up question in this instance, is , “what does my body need right now?” From there, I can intuitively tell WHAT my body wants–usually it’s some quality form of protein like salmon, with something starchy like sweet potatoes and some greens with some fat like coconut oil and olives.
This is the prime skill of intuitive eating–knowing what your body needs. It becomes second nature once you practice for awhile.
If it’s NOT for food, then I tease out what I’m ACTUALLY hungry for— connection, rest, a creative release, a walk, dance, stretching, a tactile experience.
Step 3. HONOR YOUR HUNGER.
Always honor your hunger, no matter what it is for. So if your hunger IS for food, you honor that hunger and eat some quality food (even if you just ate 2 hours ago and don’t think you “should” be hungry right now).
~If your hunger is for pleasure, you honor that by doing something that engages all of your senses in a pleasurable way. A bubble bath with scented candles, some wine or tea and music, for instance.
~If your hunger is for beauty, you honor that by looking at, or creating, something beautiful. This may just be browsing through a plant store or surfing on Pinterest.
~If your hunger is for connection, you honor that by connecting with someone. Reach out and set up a lunch or coffee date, call someone, engage in an email, join a group.
~If really, you’re just tired, you honor that by taking a power nap or stretching/breathing/meditating. Even if you have stuff to do. We can be more effiecient and focused when we’ve re-charged.
If at first feels unclear what your hunger is, just try something and with some trial and error you’ll get a lot better at deciphering what your body is asking for.
It’s time we start choosing the loving things we can do for ourselves!! You deserve it, gorgeous!
We’re going to deep dive into this and more at a live Mindful Eating & Living course in Seattle….click here for more information or to register!
Sidenote: sometimes, when hunger feels excessive and unreasonable, there could be an physiological imbalance going on within. This could mean you need to optimize your gut health, your adrenals, your sugar handling abilities or that your liver/biliary function is sluggish. You could be calling it “overeating” or “emotional eating” and blaming your willpower when in fact, it’s a functional nutrition issue.
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