I mentioned in last weeks' blog: Five Steps to Support Your Weight Loss Resolutions that we’re not used to feeling hungry. Unfortunately, most of us simply over eat. We are not used to feeling slightly hungry or simply satisfied.
Like many things, we have adopted eating behaviours without understanding why we do what we do.
What Happens When We Feel Hungry?
Cue Survival Instinct
The first thing hunger does is trigger our survival instinct. We are wired to stay alive and starving used to be a real threat. That primitive part of the brain does not have access to the information that we are surrounded by an abundance of food 24/7. All the instinct knows is that it gets the hunger signal and then floods the body with ‘eat now!’ messages in the form of chemicals released into the brain and body.
Our job now, in this day and age of ‘probably-not-going-to-die-of-starvation,’ is to bring our logical awareness into play. We may have to practice conversing with our own selves, saying, “I know I’m not in danger of starving. In fact, I probably have enough ‘stored’ to last a while. So, I will take a few deep breaths, drink a glass of water and choose something that is real, actual nutrition/fuel for my body in the form of whole food that will give me energy and not deplete me or make me feel yucky afterward.
Now Appearing; An Emotion
The second thing that hunger does is it allows our emotions to surface. Because food is associated with comfort—from birth we are comforted by a caregiver while being fed—we have a life-long habit of using food as a substitute for other things.
When our resources are engaged in digestion, our other processes are put on hold. Once digestion is taken care of, signals from other sources, like suppressed emotions, come into our awareness. We are not very well trained (yet!) in knowing what to do with our emotions. Therefore, realizing you do not need more food in this moment, it’s a good practice to take a breath and
Ask Questions such as:
What am I really hungry for?
Am I bored?
Do I need attention?
What, if anything, needs soothing?
What emotion is coming up for me right now?
The simple act of pausing and questioning is enough to interrupt a habitual cycle of mindless eating. If once or twice a day you can choose something that is good fuel for your body, instead of impulsively eating a high fat/high, sugar/salt comfort food and if once or twice a day you can choose something other than food to soothe or entertain yourself can be enough to set you up for eating less and feeling better.
Again, the message is Small, Consistent Changes.
Congratulations for choosing health.
You can do it!
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