Have you had this experience? You open the fridge, find something to eat, aren't satisfied, so then migrate to the pantry, eat whatever's there and that also isn't satisfying so you go to the cupboard - eat - nope, still not satisfied and then back to the fridge....
Somewhere in all of this you realize that you aren't actually physically hungry in the sense that you need fuel but you still aren't satisfied.
You aren't really sure WHAT will satisfy you so you just keep eating hoping to strike gold eventually.
Now you're overly full and uncomfortable and perhaps NUMB.
So, there's that. At least you aren't feeling that longing anymore. A bit sick, maybe...but not longing.
Somehow that "works" so you keep repeating it.
What's really going on here, gorgeous?
The obvious/not-so-obvious answer is that you aren't actually wanting food. You are "hungry" for something, but it isn't for food.
You are hungry for a sensory experience, for connection, for mental stimulation, for relaxation, for creativity, for play/adventure, or being WITH yourself.
(or perhaps there IS a specific macro- or micronutrient need.)
To be clear - you have the right approach.
The whole "searching for what you're looking for" does give you answers and ultimate satisfaction. In the beginning when we aren't quite clear on WHAT we actually want/need we throw darts and it's a bit of trial-by-error to discover what it is that we REALLY need.
AND - When you apply mindfulness to this process - the ability to just KNOW, to have clarity, to have an intuitive "nudge" and follow it and actually be satisfied ....exponentially increases.
You become a scientist collecting data, rather than randomly throwing darts hoping for the best. This applies to both food-based hunger and non-food "hunger".
So HOW does this work? You begin by tuning IN rather than analyzing using your head - this means creating body awareness through simple breathing or body scan exercises, by getting CURIOUS, by relinquishing judgment and by trusting the process.
You find freedom, you experience a sense of empowerment, you discover that your body is communicating with you and you are able to "hear" it..and honor it.
Mindfulness is a SKILL, love. Once you develop it, you HAVE it. If I was able to cultivate it and radically shift my relationship with food, so can you.
p.s. I'm creating an online program that will walk you through the steps to become an intuitive/mindful eater with loads of support - to get on the list and receive all of the deets, click here: Intuitive Eating Group