I just want you to take the time to think back:
- the last time you ate because you felt truly hungry
- The last time you ate so much you felt absolutely stuffed
- How did you feel afterward? Did you feel satisfied? Or were you annoyed with yourself and felt guilty?
Eating too much every once in a while is normal. I do that myself especially over the festive season. However if you feel that your eating is out of control and you tend to think about food all the time and feel guilty, ashamed or depressed after eating, then watch this video through.
I want you to first understand the 7 different kinds of hunger, how you can stop overeating and learn to eat mindfully. So eating mindfully is about expanding our awareness around food habits, so that we can make a more conscious decision of what to put in our mouths and when.
1) Physical Hunger
- This is the real kind of hunger. You can PHYSICALLY feel the hunger.
- Your stomach is growling, your blood sugar level is low, your energy is low and you have a hard time concentrating on the task you are doing.
- This is the kind of hunger where your body truly needs food and you should be eating.
Listen to your body’s physical cues and eat when you start to feel moderately hungry. Don’t leave it until you feel extremely hungry. This can often led to making bad food choices and eating too much food at one sitting, which can also lead to weight gain.
2) Nutritional Hunger
- “I just feel hungry all the time” I can just eat and eat and eat
- Chances are you might be feeding your body with crappy meals. Meals that are high in calories, but low in nutrients.
- You will feel full, but only for a short period of time.
- After 30 minutes or an hour, you’ll start feeling peckish. This is because our body naturally craves for nutrients and real food! So your brain will tell you to eat and eat.
- But instead of eating a nutrient-dense meal, you ended up eating more crap, consume far more calories than what your body needs and you still feel unsatisfied.
- It’s a vicious cycle – eat crappy food – don’t get the nutrients your body needs – don’t feel satisfied – eat more crap food and eventually, wow, where did the extra weight come from.
Start to eat real foods, foods that are minimally processed. You‘ll find that you will feel satisfied, you won’t be craving for more foods, and you won’t be pilling on the weight.
3) Emotional / Heart Hunger
- We live in a culture where we turn to food to fix everything! We associate food with happiness and comfort. Hence whenever we feel the opposite, such as feeling stressed, tired, bored, lonely, sad or angry, we try to use food to fix our emotions
- Instead of dealing with the deeper issue, we want instant gratification because we want to feel better. It’s similar to how some people turn to alcohol or drugs.
- It works, BUT for a VERY short time. When it’s over, we often end up feeling worse and hate ourselves for binge eating.
- Isn’t located in the stomach, you don’t physically feel hungry
- craves for specific comfort food; for instant the need to have ice cream or chocolate to make you feel better
- often leads to mindless eating: instead of having few pieces of chocolate or few scoops of ice-cream, you get out of control and ended up eating the entire block of chocolate or the entire ice-cream tub.
- isn’t satisfied even when you are full.
- often leads to regret, guilt or shame.
If this is you, the next time you have the urge to mindless eat, put the food down, take 3 deep breaths and ask yourself “What am I asking the food to do for me”. If it’s link to an emotional trigger, don’t reject the emotion, instead bring awareness to your feelings and you might be able to find other ways to satisfy them.
- If you feel down, call a friend to speak to or read a self-development book that might help you through your issues.
- If you’re tired, relax, take a warm bath and treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate.
- If you are bored, read a book, watch a film or go out for a nice walk.
Shift your thinking away from food, and change the action to feed your emotion not your body.
4) Habit Hunger
- Breakfast at 8am, lunch at 1pm, dinner at 7pm. You eat because you’ve trained your body to eat at a specific time.
- There is nothing wrong with this because it can in fact b a good eating habit and prevent overeating.
- However habit hunger can be an issue if we subconsciously associate food to a certain activity. For instance do you snack when you go to the movies or watch tv at home?
- Let’s face it, chances are you are not hungry and you don’t really need to munch. This is a learned habit which we develop over time.
If this is you, start to break the habit by having a warm cup of tea or keep your hands busy by doing something else such as knitting.
5) Hormonal Hunger
- Ladies, you know very well what I’m talking about.
- You’ve been doing so well with your eating routine, and a few days before your period, your hormone changes and suddenly you crave for all the bad stuff.
You don’t have to deprive yourself but what is important is that you’re aware of the hormonal changes that are happening in your body. So when you indulge, eat in a mindful way and really enjoy your food. You will feel satisfied with less and you will be in control of the situation. Soon, the cravings will fade away and you'll find balance again.
6) Sense Hunger (Sight, Smell, Taste)
Imagine this, you already had your lunch and you’re supposed to meet a friend over coffee. When you are at the café, all the cakes displayed look so yummy and you are convince that they would taste good as well. Suddenly you have space for more food. So instead of just having a cup of coffee as planned, you ended up ordering a piece of cake to go along with your coffee.
Rather than listening to what your body needs, you’re letting your senses; the sight, the smell and the taste of the food, control you.
If this sounds like you, before you make an impulsive decision, stop for a moment, look at the tempting food on display and think, “Am I hungry, will eating that piece of cake make me feel good afterwards?”
If you answer is no, I will only feel guilty, then step away and don’t have it. If however, you decided to go ahead with it and treat yourself, instead of scarfing it down, enjoy the cake with all your senses.
Look, smell, take small and slow bites to fully appreciate the taste and texture. Remember, one slice of cake once in a while won’t make you gain weight, but scarfing them down mindlessly out of shame on a regular basis may.
7) Environmental Hunger (Party)
- Getting together with your family and friends over a meal is a great way to bond and socialize, but it can also lead to overeating.
- The food is there and everyone else is eating. As long as they’re eating, you continue eating as well.
- Or perhaps you might have those family members who just keep on encouraging you to eat. Come on take more food, oh I made these cookies, you got to try them, eat more.
If you have such friends, or family members, you need to learn when to say no and that you have had enough of food. Instead of allowing food to be the centre of the celebration, take the time to bond with your family and friends by playing some group games, dance together or enjoy a good conversation.
For the next 3 days, I want you to record EVERY single thing you ate and then determine what kind of hunger it was. Ask yourself, why did you eat it? Were you physically hungry or were you stressed, bored, was it a habit-based decision, or because everyone else was eating. Let me know if the comments below.
If you want to lose weight or fight your bad eating habits, really tune into yourself, listen to what your body needs and practice mindful eating.