Ever have one of those moments when you're eating and eating and eating then suddenly look down and realize ALL THE FOOD in front of you is gone? To make matters worst you realize you weren't even hungry in the first place! Many of us are struggling to know the difference between when we're hungry physically and hungry emotionally.
So how do you know when you're hungry emotionally?
It's not uncommon to develop a habit of relying on food for emotional support. We're human. It's natural to develop habits that turn into behaviors. We easily adopt them because many of us find comfort in routine behaviors. If you think you may be struggling with emotional eating, ask yourself this before you eat.
Is my mouth hungry or is my stomach hungry?
If you're stomach is growling, feels empty or worst case, you feel like you might pass out then you're physically hungry. A good rule of thumb is to eat something every four hours. This will keep your blood sugar levels from crashing.
But if you're mouth is salivating or there are lingering foods in your teeth (ahem...sugar) from a previous meal, it can deceive you into thinking you're physically hungry and is a good indication that you're emotionally hungry. Brushing your teeth or chewing gum in between meals can alleviate this false hunger sensation.
Asking yourself if you're stomach or mouth is hungry is a good way to manage your eating. Long term this will also help you develop intuitive eating behaviors because in my opinion, this is the first step in beginning to listen to your body.
Recognize the connection between food and stress
There's no doubt most people are under extreme stress which makes it difficult to know when you're hungry emotionally vs physically. Stress feeds into our reliance on food to calm anxiety. Don't use food to soothe stress.
Instead think about one of the happiest moments in your life. It's a sure way to discharge stress. Over time, you re-train your mind to think those happy thoughts and begin breaking the habit of using food as a coping mechanism.
Don't use food as love
Many people are starving on an emotional level and using food as a way to fulfill this need. But food doesn't love you back. Feed your emotions instead of your stomach. Allow yourself to feel things and work through them. Seek out the help of a counselor or health coach if you need to.
If you have a pet, pet your pet. Your emotional need will instantaneously be fulfilled. Don't have a pet? Hug a friend, play a game with a child or find a neighbor's pet to pet.
You are what you believe
Many overweight people think they're unlovable. Stop the negative self talk. Give yourself positive affirmations like "I deserve to be loved." Positive intentions are one of the best ways to feed emotional hunger and heal the body. You are what you believe!