Hunger Is Physical.
Struggles with eating can lead to confusion on whether or not a person feels hungry. One of the most common questions asked in therapy for over-eating patterns is how to understand when to eat (and when to stop). For this article, we will focus on hunger and will follow up on information on satiety or fullness. This blog post will begin a series on mending the relationship with food and body.
Eating patterns that become problematic are typically spurred by triggers which can lead to a tumultuous relationship with food. Triggers to eating can be environmental, loneliness, substance use, physical pain, or even boredom. Addressing triggers to eating are an important feature in healing the relationship with food. Some tips to help manage triggers are:
- Identify personal triggers that tend to cause eating leading to feelings of shame
- Reduce exposure to people, places, or things that lead to triggers
- Find alternatives to respond to triggers that feel nurturing, outside of food
- Understand your emotions
- Recognize your needs and find supportive people and patterns to help you meet them
Once this part becomes more manageable, the next step is understanding if your body is actually hungry, or if the reach for food is due to a trigger. Here are some basic hunger cues to know if your body is in need of fuel:
3 HUNGER CUES:
Our bodies instinctively notify us for what it needs. A strong desire for something in particular can become an important signal that your body is ready to eat. The first thoughts of food will enter your mind when your brain realizes food is needed. Notice what kind of food you have in mind and indulge.
If we become too hungry, blood sugars can become affected. This can lead to shakiness, lightheadedness, headache, weakness, or loss of energy. These symptoms are other ways in which hunger shows up in a physical sense. Moodiness can also signify the need to eat. Feeling irritated or cranky, indecisive, or difficulty concentrating are also important signs to notice. This means your body quickly needs food to refuel so it can perform everything you need it to do!
Listen To Your Stomach.
Stomachs are noisy! Growling, grumbling, and gurgling sounds are the tunes of a hungry tummy. Notice these signals and respond accordingly. Sensations may accompany hunger sounds. Some of these include hunger pangs, an empty or hollow feeling, or even queasiness.
Also ask, am I thirsty? A tall glass of water may satisfy any of these sensations. If you still feel cravings or other hunger signals after hydrating, then maybe it is time to eat. It can be confusing on what to do once you learn the difference between physical hunger and reaching for food due to triggers. It’s normal to feel anxious and frustrated when establishing a new relationship with food. Follow these tips to help:
4 TIPS TO ADDRESS HUNGER:
Break down the intensity of hunger on a scale of 1-10, where 1 feels like an urgent need to eat, and 10 means the stomach is beyond full to the point of feeling sick.
Being prepared when hunger strikes can be a huge relief. Meal planning also helps reduce stress by feeling organized and in charge of your body’s needs. Keep snacks handy at work, home, and in the car to help manage hunger.
Treat yourself with care and kindness through the process of healing your relationship with food. Take measures to practice patience in learning new skills for eating. Find support in therapy or with others on a similar path for wellness.
Check out this article on methods to savor and thoroughly enjoy your meal. Eating mindfully can help build body awareness, reduce shame, and find peace with food.
If you or a loved one is in need of support, Low Country Counseling offers specialized therapy for Individuals, Moms, Couples, Families, Children, and Teens. Contact us for any questions you need answered or to schedule an appointment. Help is available. You are not alone!