5 SIMPLE STEPS TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR HUNGER CUES
In our hectic and hurried world it can feel about as clear as mud. As we move through our day we are constantly bombarded with a flurry of emotions, overstimulating environments, over scheduling and unrelenting demands. It can be difficult to decipher what exactly you are feeling let alone why!
With these 5 simple steps, you'll be able to do a quick scan & accurately be able to identify your hunger cues. It is an invaluable tool to be able to have the ability to identify what is happening in our bodies at any given time (also known as interoceptive awareness) & respond appropriately to it's needs. Food, alcohol, t.v., coffee, wine & other substances are often a quick fix for what the body is truly needing... sleep, nourishing food, connection, quiet, touch or movement.
So let's break it down...
Emotional Hunger is a desire to eat (or not eat) to change a feeling state.
Physical Hunger is the desire to eat to nourish oneself.
The definitions may be clear BUT...
It can be very confusing to know exactly what the driving force is when it comes to feeling hunger. It's easy to simply grab a bite to eat whenever the urge hits us, as it can immediately soothe and provide a sense of grounding, but in order to understand what our body and mind are truly craving, we need to break it down. Emotional eating is not uncommon, we use food all the time as a way to celebrate (birthdays) or to console (sickness or death) one another. Emotional eating can become an issue though when food is your sole source of comfort.
Learning to quiet our mind & body in order to recognize our bodies subtle (or not so subtle) cues is the key to differentiating between EMOTIONAL VS. PHYSICAL hunger.
Take a moment- take a few breaths, scan your body and ask yourself these
5 KEY QUESTIONS- WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY
WHO- Who is around? Are you comfortable to eat anywhere or are you eating in isolation or secrecy?
WHAT - What does your food craving look like? Is it VERY specific (salty chips, a need to crunch, chocolate, mom's homemade cake) and nothing else will do? Or is it more general, you have preferences but it's not the end of the world.
WHERE - Where in your body are you noticing sensation? Is your belly rumbling, gurgling, having hunger pangs? Is there an intense need to chew or taste? A heaviness, sinking, fluttering feeling, or pain in the chest?
WHEN- Does the hunger come in sporadic waves or on a predictable schedule? Is there a misplaced sense of urgency? A neutral tone around eating? Does it come on suddenly or in a gradual, progressive manner?
WHY- Does the hunger feel insatiable or proportionately satiable? Are you aware of any intense or uncomfortable feelings or situations that might be contributing to a need to comfort yourself?
Hunger cues are not as clear and concise as their definitions, but you'll notice that you will weigh in heavier on one side or the other. Once the verdict is in, now you can make a conscious decision that is best for BOTH your body and mind. Emotional eating is a red flag that your emotional needs are not being met and is why you are reaching for food to soothe and comfort yourself. It is in these moments of awareness that you have the opportunity to take a deeper look and nourish your entire being by noticing that what you may be truly craving is self-compassion, connection, movement, validation or love.
In my upcoming workshop What's Your Why? Reverse Engineering Your Habits we'll be diving deep into understanding not only our hunger cues but also learning how to navigate the nervous system, developing practices to build your interoceptive awareness using breath and gentle yoga. By learning to identify your true why, you are then able to build more sustainable and embodied practices to regulate your nervous system and truly meet your bodies needs. I invite you to join us on this dynamic journey & bring the New Year in together!