When clients are in my office we talk a lot about being hungry and the mixed messages our body sends us about eating. We talk about habits and lifestyles that effect eating too. No filter: the good, the bad and the ugly.
I often ask, “Do you know what it feels like to be hungry? Are you hungry when you eat?” The answer is typically a mixed version of “no”. Is this you?
If we all ate out of a pure need for fuel, things would be very different. Hunger is complicated. Lots of things contribute to feeling the need to eat- stress, fatigue, emotional triggers, dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, hormones and even boredom. All of these can cause cravings. Media also sends us queues to eat by marketing those “100 calorie, gluten free, paleo, organic, sugar free, healthy…etc etc” snacks for when you feel “hungry”. The snacks with the “health halo” as I call them – are the worst offenders. Thoughts become things – if you think about your perfect snack enough- most of the time you’re going to feel hungry and go for it. Human nature.
We aren’t comfortable with feeling hungry are we? It’s super unsettling – and easily remedied. Therein lies the trouble.
True hunger (the physical kind) isn’t triggered by habit, stress, boredom or cravings for chocolate. It also doesn’t lead to feelings of guilt. Sometimes true hunger can also come from physiological triggers like fatigue, blood sugar fluctuations, hormone imbalance, nutrient deficiencies and dehydration. Yes, true and it is real.
Emotional hunger typically comes on suddenly-even if you’ve already eaten, usually includes cravings for specific foods (even though you think it’s a healthy choice), leads to overeating cause you just can’t get satisfied….and guilt.
It can be complicated. Both true and emotional hunger happen for everyone at different times. Both also can be controlled if we start paying a little more attention. Before you indulge…ask yourself why? When is a good question to ask too.
Are you eating out of habit? https://kyoungnutrition.com/habits-replacing-the-bad-with-the-good/. Who doesn’t have a guilty pleasure?
There are techniques to control your eating queues- but first steps start with you. Focus on having 3 balanced meals a day and drinking lots of water. Pay attention the eating queues, ask yourself the questions (why, when, physiological reasons?); and start looking at your habits? For most people, paying attention is very revealing and most of the time leads to having more control. You might surprise yourself- give it a try?
Kimberly Young MS CNS is a practicing nutritionist and educator in Dallas, Texas. Learn about her integrative approach and schedule online at https://kyoungnutrition.com.
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