Happy Fearless Friday!
Today’s video features a question from one of the members in our Live & Eat Fearlessly Facebook Group, who asked:
“Why do I constantly keep eating when I’m not hungry?”
It’s that annoying phenomenon I call “mouth hunger” – when you’re not really physically hungry but you keep wanting to eat, and it’s like the pantry or the refrigerator is a huge magnet that keeps pulling you in!
There are actually really good reasons for this – and none of them mean that you are deficient in willpower or out of control or that there’s anything wrong with you!
In today’s video, I’m counting down the top 3 reasons you keep eating when you’re not hungry, David Letterman style….
Reason #3 – Eating provides a physical benefit for your energy. Quite often when we are engaged in a task that’s either stressful or draining, or we’re in our heads with our minds racing and worrying about something, our energy begins to spiral. Anxiety starts to build and spiral upward, and the act of eating moves energy. Chewing literally provides an energy release!
Also, the act of eating and putting food in your belly can be very grounding. Sometimes when your energy is building there’s a distinct feeling of coming out of your body, and a desire to ground back in. So that’s something to tune into. Pay attention to your thoughts and your energy. Notice what’s happening with your energy and ask yourself, “what do I need?” Perhaps there’s another way to create the experience of moving energy or grounding that will work even better than food!
Reason #2 – You’re hungry for something else that you don’t feel you can ask yourself for. Most people get super judgy about their cravings and just want to banish them, but our cravings have a ton of valuable information for us. We have a lot of food associations – certain foods can remind us of past experiences or feelings and so we’re drawn to them because we are seeking that past experience.
For example, one of my clients recently shared that she kept craving and eating ice cream when she wasn’t hungry. With a little exploration, we discovered that ice cream reminded her of time spent with her grandma as a child, where she had no responsibilities and could just relax and enjoy and connect and be supported. It was this FEELING that she was really craving when she reached for the ice cream. We created some structures for her to be able to take a break from her work (without apology), call a friend and recreate that experience of a good, loving time out.
As with the reason before, sometimes we just don’t feel we can ask ourselves for a break from our responsibilities – or just for stillness. When you’re feeling drawn to food and you’re not hungry, it’s always a good practice to ask, what am I REALLY hungry for in this moment?
Reason #1 – Lack of Awareness. This is the most common reason and it’s actually a very simple physiologic thing, meaning you most likely didn’t bring a lot of presence to whatever you ate earlier in the day.
The way our bodies are designed to work, our brain must receive sensory stimulation and pleasure from a meal in order to flip the appetite switch to the off position. If this doesn’t happen because you were distracted, or multitasking, or rushing or even stressing out about what you’re eating and all “up in your head” – the signals between your body and your brain don’t get communicated, and your brain interprets that as a missed meal! It’ll then do the only thing it knows how to do to ensure your survival, and that is continue to say “hungry.”
Your survival instinct is stronger than any designs you have on whether or not you “should” be eating. One of the most powerful shifts you can make is to start to bring more awareness and presence to the meals you are eating, especially earlier in the day! Savor them, turn off the distractions, taste the food! Relax and enjoy, and just see what happens to those munchies over a short period of time!
Next time you find yourself reaching for food when you’re not hungry, check in with the 3 reasons above and I’m confident you’ll find a whole new range of possibilities!