Think of the last time you ate because you were hungry and the last time you ate so much and felt super full/stuffed after. How did you feel afterwards? Were you satisfied or were you annoyed, guilty, and regretful? You see, eating more than you use to every once in a while is normal, it’s okay. I tend to do that especially when my hormones gets really crazy (girl thing!).
However, if you feel that your eating habit is getting out of control and you think of food ALL THE TIME and you wound up feeling depressed, guilty, and ashamed of yourself after eating, read through this post.
Let’s educate ourselves with the Types of Hunger and check simple tips and tricks on how to stop OVEREATING and start eating MINDFULLY. Eating mindfully means expanding our awareness around food habits so we can start a better conscious decision on what to put into our mouth and when.
Types of Hunger
1. Physical Hunger – stomach is growling, your sugar is low, energy level is low, and you cannot focus on what you are doing! This is the real kind of hunger and your body truly needs food and you should be eating.
What to do: start listening to your body’s physical cue of hunger. Eat when you feel moderately hungry. Do not wait until you are extremely hungry as this can lead to bad food choices and eating too much of food in one setting which can eventually lead to unwanted weight gain if this becomes a habit.
2. Nutritional Hunger – do you feel like you are always hungry like all the time and you can just eat and eat and eat? Chances are, you are stuffing yourself with crappy foods! Crappy means foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients (think of burger, fries, and more of the fastfood meal fixes!) YES! they will definitely make you feel satisfied and full but only for a short period of time. After 30 minutes or an hour, you’d feel the hunger again. That is because our body naturally craves for nutrients and real food. Your brain will tell you to eat and eat and instead of consuming a nutrient-dense meal you end up eating more food, consume more calories than what your body need and still not satisfied. This is a VISCIOUS CYCLE! Eat Crappy foods, Don’t get the nutrients your body needs, Not feeling satisfied, then back to eating crappy foods! You know what happens next! weight gain!
What to do: Start eating REAL FOODS! Foods that are minimally processed. That way you are feeding your body with the nutrients it needs, you will feel satisfied, you don’t get hungry easily, and the excess weight will come off naturally.
3. Emotional or Heart Hunger – are you the kind who turn to food to feel better? Or when you’re happy? We certainly live in a culture where we lead to food to fix everything! We associate food to happiness and comfort. Whenever we feel stressed, sad, happy, or bored, we turn to food to fix our emotions. Instead of dealing with the real and deeper issue, we choose instant gratification because we want to feel better. Yes, it will fix you, but only for a very short period of time. Chances are, when you are done stuffing yourself with unnecessary calorie-load, you’d feel even worst and will regret binge-eating. You don’t feel physically hungry and it often craves for specific comfort food, i.e ice cream, chocolates, cakes – to satisfy the emotions. This often lead to mindless eating and often ends up unsatisfied despite feeling full. As usual, this leads to regrets, guilt or even shame.
What to do: Understand that emotional hunger is not real hunger and it is not based on your stomach. Put the food down, take 3 deep breaths, ask yourself this question; “What am I asking the food to do for me?” If the answer is linked to an emotional trigger, do not ignore the emotions. Bring awareness to how and what you are feeling and you might be able to find other ways to deal with them. For instance, if you are feeling down, talk to a friend or read something inspirational and uplifting. If you are tired and stressed from a long day’s work, treat yourself with a warm bath, a cup of hot chocolate perhaps? Or if you are just bored, go for a walk, or watch a movie, or read something good! The goal is to change the action of feeding your emotion rather than your body!
4. Habit Hunger – we eat at a specific time because we’ve trained our body to do so, or it is the norm. Breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12noon, dinner at 7pm. There is nothing wrong with it. In fact, it can be a good eating habit and will prevent overeating. However, habit hunger can be an issue if we turn into associating food into a certain activity. For instance, do you tend to snack when you go to a movie or watch tv? I am actually guilty of this too! Chances are, like me, you are not really hungry but you just feel you need something to munch because this is a habit when watching a movie.
What to do: Instead of munching snacks while watching a movie, try ti just have one drink (hot choco, coffee, or healthy smoothie/juice).
5. Hormonal Hunger – hello ladies! we all can relate to this! 2 or 1 week before our period, our hormones gets so crazy that it affects our way of eating too! We suddenly crave for all the bad food! feel me?
What to do: You don’t have to deprive yourself. It is important that you are AWARE of what’s going on in your body. Indulge in a mindful way and really enjoy the food.
6. Sense Hunger – this is allowing your senses (sight, smell, taste) to control you! This often happens when you go out, say you are meeting with a friend and you already plan on just having a coffee but then when you get to the coffee shop, you see all the gorgeous, tempting, and beautifully displayed cakes and pastries! There goes the plan to just have a cup of coffee! You end up ordering a slice of cake to go along with the coffee.
What to do: STOP for a moment, look at all the temptations and ask yourself; “Am I hungry? Will this slice of cake, make me feel good afterwards?” If the answer is NO, then just go ahead with the coffee. But if the answer is YES, go ahead and indulge yourself, take small slow bites to fully appreciate it with all your senses. Remember that eating and enjoying a slice of cake every once in a while will not lead to weight gain, but eating it mindlessly on a regular basis may!
7. Environmental Hunger – perfect example for this are gatherings! reunions, and meeting with friends. Wherever there’s gatherings and meetings, there’s always food and happenings! Oftentimes, we are encouraged to eat and eat! Family gatherings? and everyone brings in their special dishes and recipes? you are most likely to ask to try them and you’d normally oblige.
What to do: Learn to say NO and STOP when you’ve had enough food. Personally, this is where I best apply the portion eating, a little bit of everything so I don’t end up over stuffing myself. And also, remember the essence of the gathering, it is being with friends, relatives, or loved ones! Enjoy their company, connect, and enjoy the activities. Do not make food the center of the celebration.
Now that we know the types of hunger, here’s a fun challenge for you. For the next 3-5 days, have a list of the food you eat if you cannot remember them mentally and determine the kind of hunger it was when you had that food and what state/mood were you in. Were you physically hungry, stressed, emotional, or did you eat because everyone around you ate. From there, you can certainly determine which eating habit you seriously need to cut or adjust as you move along.