We can be taught it from childhood: candy as a reward or comfort in (emotional) pain. And: “Learned young is often done old”: snacking is used as a substitute for self-love. It can then be difficult to get an automatic pattern out of your system.
As a guideline for this, we will return below to what I feel is the core of it, and that is distinguishing 3 different types of hunger: physical hunger, emotional hunger, but also or main hunger.
That sometimes makes it so difficult: which one is it now?
Are you hungry for food or for love?
This first form of hunger, physical hunger, probably speaks for itself at first: when you are hungry, your stomach can start to rattle. But there may also be lesser-known signals that can indicate physical hunger, such as: low energy, feeling lethargic or headache. Eating is then a good idea!
And if we connect food with Love:
Then listen to your body: what food does it need/want?
Do you feel resistance building up?
It may be that all kinds of thoughts arise on the basis of which you can decide (consciously or unconsciously) to ignore the physical hunger signal and not to eat what your body asks or not to eat at all. For example: “I have to diet to lose weight” or “I don’t have time, first this”.
Do you recognize ignoring a physical hunger signal?
How and why do you do that?
When there is emotional hunger, also called emotional eating, there is actually an emotion that wants to be felt. Maybe loneliness, anger, frustration or an inner void.
For example, eating a bag of chips when you come home tired after a long day at work in which you may have exceeded your limits.
Or eating sweets while you may be sad or feeling lonely. Or an extra cake “because you deserve it”.
What all forms of emotional eating have in common is that the food is used in this way to numb the emotion. While eating this can be a relief, but afterwards a feeling of guilt can arise about what we have eaten too much or unhealthy food on top of the emotion that was already present in the beginning.
Moreover: that which we do not want to feel, we carry with us. We are literally further from home. After all, the original emotion that we do not want to feel is stored in our body, until a new moment comes in which the emotion is touched in order to be felt and thus released.
How do you recognize emotional eating?
What do you want to feel in the moment?
What Would Love Do?
Tip: delay eating by taking 5 minutes to notice what’s going on inside you. After that, you can still eat those chips or chocolate if you want. In this way you give yourself the opportunity to break the automatic pattern – of eating as a stress response to an emotion – step by step.
Main hunger: the ego
With head hunger there are all kinds of critical thoughts to which we can assign special weight and truth. Believing critical thoughts can be a way for the ego to bring itself down before or after eating something tasty. For example thoughts such as: “I can’t do it anyway” or: “It’s already ruined anyway”. The ego as in: the “I” which identifies with such thoughts and/or beliefs about yourself, the body and food, then reigns supreme.
However, the answer to such sabotaging thoughts is often correct: to snack (or not). Then the circle is complete or rather the downward spiral: you get caught in a maze of thoughts connected to an unhelpful action: food, which can evoke unpleasant feelings about yourself and with it again critical thoughts and the unhelpful action of eating .
How to get out of that ego maze?
Create distance from awareness: see & see through which thoughts arise. Write them down or make an inquiry and question them.
What critical or sabotaging thoughts do you know?
Are you strict with yourself?
To think in black and white?
Are you interpreting a situation?
Are the thoughts really true? How does that feel?
What if it weren’t?
And how does that feel?
What does the voice of Love say?
Awareness: hunger as an entrance to Love
From the awareness of which of the 3 types of hunger is present, you can give yourself what you really need: food as food, or feeling through emotions and/or seeing & seeing through thoughts.
In this way you become more in balance both internally and externally.
All this from a loving approach.
Not hardness and self-criticism, but Love, softness and self-compassion makes growth, development and deepening in consciousness possible.
In this way hunger (each of the 3) becomes an entrance to experiencing the Love in and for yourself.