Do you sometimes confuse “head hunger” with “body hunger?”
If you’re sensitive to food cues, it is critical to learn to recognize the triggers in your environment and break the associations that lead you to overeat simply out of habit.
Recognizing Head Hunger
Let’s take a look at just a few of the many common triggers for overeating and strategies for coping more effectively.
Society programs us to follow a schedule, so like Pavlov’s dog, you may have learned to salivate when the bell rings. The reality is that it’s more convenient to eat at certain times than others so it takes effort to listen to your hunger cues.
Though it’s challenging to change this routine, you can learn to pace yourself by using your natural hunger rhythms. You’ll probably notice that you get hungry every 3-6 hours depending on what and how much you ate at your last meal.
- Keep a healthy snack handy to satisfy hunger that doesn’t fit in with mealtimes.
- If you always want a snack right before a meal, move the mealtime up.
- And remember, if you’re not very hungry you don’t have to eat a whole plateful just because it’s mealtime.
Seeing displays of food like candy or nuts in dishes and tempting foods when you open your cabinet or refrigerator can trigger you to want those foods.
Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
- Don’t use food as decorations or leave appetizing foods laying in plain view.
- Try putting tempting foods behind other foods in your cabinets and refrigerator.
- If a co-worker keeps food out, politely ask them to keep it in a drawer instead.
The mere thought of dieting can trigger feelings of deprivation and cravings. Just thinking about restrictive dieting has been shown to increase food intake.
- Cut down on the amount of time you spend talking about food, weight, and dieting.
- Learn the mindful eating strategies we use in Am I Hungry? to help you learn to recognize and trust your physical hunger cues to let you know when it’s time to eat.
What’s Eating You?
Emotions are common triggers for eating. Food you eat to deal with feelings comes with strings attached, namely discomfort, weight gain, and regret. Most importantly, eating does not adequately meet your emotional needs so those unmet needs will trigger overeating again and again.
Boredom, anger, anxiety, and other feelings are a natural part of your life and eating won’t make them go away.
- Remember, eating to cope with your emotions disconnects you from important information and interferes with your ability to discover and satisfy your true needs.
- There are dozens of additional triggers that we cover in our workshops but suffice it to say that once you have identified the emotions that triggered the urge to eat, you can find ways to comfort, nurture, calm, and distract yourself without turning to food.
Break free of habits that are no longer working for you!
By learning to recognize and decrease your head hunger, you’ll break out of your old habits. You’ll find yourself eating less, feeling more satisfied, and meeting your needs more appropriately. This leads to a healthier body, mind, heart, and spirit.
Feast for the Eyes
Watch this short clip of Workshop 4: Head Hunger from the Am I Hungry? Self-Paced Program to hear more.
Food for Thought
The simplest definition of mindfulness is awareness. Awareness of what you’re doing is the first step to changing your behaviors so thought and reflection are an important part of this process. Take a few moments to consider your answers to the following questions. It may be helpful to write out your thoughts so you can reflect on them later.
- Write down at least three of your triggers for overeating.
- Next, write down at least three strategies for dealing with each of your triggers.
- Make sure your ideas are practical and appealing – in other words, choose things to do that are at least as enjoyable as eating.
Recipe for Success
- Start to make note of the times you are confusing “body hunger” with “head hunger”
- When you recognize that an urge to eat was caused by a trigger rather than true hunger, see if you can identify the specific trigger (environmental? emotional?)
Hungry for More?
Congratulations! You’ve experience four small tastes of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program – including just over eight minutes from the eight 45-minute workshop videos included in the Am I Hungry? Self-Paced Program. I hope you’ve started to realize the potential impact of relearning to trust your body and how important it is to really address your triggers for overeating.
I know you’re experienced enough to know that there’s no quick fix. With more new skills and strategies (and actually, we have MANY more new skills and strategies to teach you), you can overcome chaotic eating and chronic dieting.
I am confident that the Am I Hungry? approach to mindful eating will change the way you manage your eating forever!
Click here if you’re ready to take charge of your eating!