When we think of being hungry, we almost always ask ourselves: what food am I craving right now? But if you, like so many women, struggle with emotional eating, a better question to ask yourself may be: what is your soul hungry for? What in life are you craving right now? Success? Intimacy? Purpose? Validation? Sensuality? Creativity? Acceptance? Freedom? What are you not getting from your life, your environment, your relationships that could be making you turn to overeating?
ASK YOURSELF: WHAT ARE YOU TRULY HUNGRY FOR?
Is it that you’re hungry or are you experiencing a craving or desire for something other than food? If you’ve ever been on a diet then you might have thought it was a smart move to try and ignore your hunger – or try and push away your cravings by distracting them – but instead of ignoring your cravings, hating them or trying to distract yourself from them, you need to start embracing them, respecting them and carefully observing them.
When you begin to do this, you will no longer be a slave to cravings. Cravings are here to tell you something. In life, we all long to feel connected, accepted, whole, fulfilled. We yearn to feel loved and accepted, by others and by ourselves. Your cravings are here to help guide you towards your most authentic self, and your most purpose-driven life. There’s a difference between emotional cravings and real hunger.
An emotional craving is a strong and sudden desire to eat food right now, which can also cause a sense of panic and urgency. If you sit with it for 10–15 minutes it will pass. You feel it in your head, not your stomach. Real hunger comes on gradually over a period of hours in your stomach. It doesn’t feel urgent. It doesn’t cause you to panic. You actually have time to figure out what it is that will satisfy your body.
When we are emotionally eating, essentially we are feeling something uncomfortable that we don’t want to feel or don’t understand; when we feel rejected, lonely or stressed, food becomes the thing we turn to immediately. Food feels comforting and loving. Food feels like love to us and we use food to try and numb those negative feelings – but numbing is only temporary. What if you actually stopped for a moment, sat down with these feelings and asked yourself honestly what was going on? What are you trying to OPT OUT of feeling? Newsflash: You can’t eat your feelings!
STOP + HEAR YOURSELF OUT
Stop, slow down your breath and ask yourself, ‘How am I feeling right now?’ That’s literally all it is. How am I feeling right now? And then answer with how you are feeling. Define your feeling. And then, instead of using food, sit with it. Practice mindful eating and pay attention.
There will be a moment, right before you’re called to eat, or even mid-binge, where you know you have the choice to stop and make a better choice for yourself, or carry on abusing yourself with food – and I challenge you to catch yourself in the act and ask yourself how you’re feeling. You might be tired, you might be stressed and what might actually be better for you in the moment is self-care, yoga, meditating or simply deep breathing, going for a walk, turning your phone off or reading a book.
By being mindful and observing yourself – getting curious about your feelings and truly connecting and listening to your body – you send your body the message ‘I’m here. I’m ready to listen. I’m ready to cooperate, instead of using food to mask or numb the feelings.’ And trust me when I say: that message goes a long, long way.