When my brother was 5 years old he went through what I like to call a ” why” period of time where he would ask us why everything is the way it is. At that time it annoyed me a lot, I was only 16 years old; wherever we went, whatever we did, he would ask ” But why?”. Now, looking back, I realize how important this question is and how many things you can learn or redefine if you question everything around you from time to time. Many of us took our parents answers for granted and never asked some questions again, still thinking that our parents know the best. The day you realize that your parents are just some other humans that talk and give advice from their own experience ( good or bad) and they can’t know the best because there is no such thing, is a very important day for you! It’s the beginning of YOUR life!
That said, I’ll begin by asking a simple question – Why do we eat?
The first answer that comes to my mind is – because we need food in order to survive. Still, some of us eat more or less so why do we really eat? What role plays food in our lives? Before we use to fight and possibly get killed for a small piece of food that we needed in order to survive, now what is killing us is too much food. So how did we end up here?
After asking myself and others this question I concluded that we eat for various reasons, therefore I came up with 5 types of HUNGER.
This is the real hunger, the one that you physically feel in your stomach. You feel like you don’t have the energy anymore, your blood sugar levels are low and you just can’t focus on anything anymore.
Listen to your body, be aware of the signals it’s sending you and eat when you physically feel hungry. Do not leave it until you feel very hungry because that can lead to making bad food choices and eating too much during one meal.
We tend to associate food with pleasure, happiness, positive emotions. If you ever hear yourself saying ” I eat because I like it, it makes me feel good” then you are in this category. If you would already feel good you wouldn’t look for stimulants such as food or alcohol or drugs to make you feel good.
Loneliness, stress, anger, boredom are negative emotions, emotions we want to escape so whenever we feel like that we look for happiness in food. Instead of dealing with the deeper issue we want a quick satisfaction. The trick is that it will fix you but only for a short period of time. When the satisfaction ends your negative emotions will rise again only this time stronger along with others caused by the binge eating, shame, and guilt which will only make you feel worse and in time will cause a vicious cycle that can lead to weight gain, chronic diseases, and depression.
This HUNGER is not located in the stomach, you don’t physically feel it and it is not mindful eating. When we emotionally eat we tend to stuff food without thinking about it, we end up feeling full but not satisfied as if we would eat more if we could.
- Practice mindful eating.
Be present with your food, smell it, taste it, look at it, savor it. Avoid shoving it, eat slowly.
- Be curious.
When you find yourself in that moment of impulse ask yourself ” What am I really feeling or avoiding to feel? What am I asking the food to do for me?”
- Find other ways to deal with your negative emotions
-If you are feeling lonely or down, call a friend or a family member or hug a beloved one.
-If you are feeling bored, find a way to entertain your mind, play a game, take a walk, watch a movie, read a book.
-If you are feeling tired/stressed, take a nap or a moment to relax. Light up some candles and take a long nice warm bath.
If you are someone that says ” I feel hungry all the time!” then you are in this category. The truth is you might be feeding your body with food that has no nutritional value such as processed high-calorie foods. These foods keep you satisfied for a short period of time. Our body is a perfect smart machine that naturally craves real food which is why you will find yourself hungry again. This explains why obese people are actually starving.
- Eat real food, minimally processed with high nutritional value.
You fall into this category if you tend to associate certain activities with food. For example, you have to eat popcorn when you go to the movies or get a snack when you watch TV at home. This is a habit that is developed over time, by doing so a few times now your brain is programmed to associate movies with popcorn. Or for example, I got to a point in my life where I couldn’t eat cheese anymore without craving red wine, whenever I would see cheese I would instantly crave red wine. Or I managed to quit smoking but somehow I created a connection between alcohol and cigarettes so whenever I have a drink I feel the urge to smoke. I am currently working on that.
Observe yourself and discover what associations your brain has developed. Name one right now.
- Break your habit
This might be difficult because it takes desire, practice, and willpower. Nothing else will help. I used to not be able to watch a movie at home or cinema unless I eat popcorn. I had to go to the movies, not eat popcorn and drink water instead a few times until I was able to stop feeling this huge urge. I knew I broke the habit the day I entered a movie theater and didn’t think of popcorn.
The cool thing is that you can use this to your own advantage. You can build healthy habits. I, now, have a habit of always having a bottle of water with me. It’s funny how I just can’t leave home without a bottle of water. Noor always says to me ” Wherever I go there is always a bottle of water!”, living room, bedroom, kitchen, car haha.
Do you ever find yourself eating more whenever you visit your parents/grandparents? Or during holidays when everyone gathers and eats? Or when friends come over? Yes, food brings people together and that can cause overeating as well. Plus some of the family members are very persuasive and encourage you to eat more. I don’t know how it’s in your culture but in the Middle Eastern culture when you are someone’s guest they will keep telling you to eat even when you tell them you are full and can’t possibly eat anymore. Their intention is to be nice and respectful but the result is that you’ll feel bad for not being able to eat more haha.
Lots of people who live by themselves told me they eat less at home because they don’t enjoy food alone as much as they enjoy food when they are in an enjoyable company. I am the same, whenever Noor travels I eat less, it’s like I lose my appetite. I want something fast and yummy, when I am alone I usually eat because I have to.
- Learn to say NO
Say NO to family members and stop when you are feeling full. Learning to say No to food and insistent people will also help you in other areas of your life.
- Bond differently
Instead of allowing food to become the center of a celebration, find other ways to bond with the people around you. For instance, you can dance, play games or take the time to have meaningful conversations.
Which type describes you more? Share with me below or find me on Instagram.