02 Apr

How many times have you found yourself going to the kitchen to look into the fridge or cupboards in these last few days of lockdown?  Now that you are home every day and are not allowed out, there may be some boredom setting in, and so you find yourself in the kitchen (again) trying to find something to do.  And what’s better to do than eat when you are bored!

There may be reasons other than boredom that have you finding yourself in the kitchen.  It could be frustration of not getting out, trying to escape the rest of the household, desiring food because you are watching a movie, or you could be hungry and in need of energy.

Whatever the reason, you don’t want to come out of lockdown having gained weight (unless you need to of course!)

Whenever I ask clients why they eat I get a whole host of answers, and most of them are not the correct reason for eating.  Do you know why you eat, and when you are truly hungry?  Real stomach or body hunger should be felt in the stomach.  It is a light emptiness or hollowness in the stomach area.  The problem is that many people cannot feel this at all or only feel it when it when they are too hungry where they have a pain in the stomach area (too empty or hollow) or are feeling nauseous.  This is because the connection between the brain and the stomach is severed.  This happens when we stop focussing on what is happening in our bodies, and is generally because we are too busy and preoccupied with life.

Because the signals are not evident, we often mistake other signals for real hunger. They may be legitimate sensations, but they are not true stomach hunger.  They tend to come from the head area and are generally known as mouth hunger. 

Some of these hungers include:

  • Mouth, eye or nose hunger – the senses trigger a response of wanting to eat; for example seeing or smelling food can make you desire it
  • Mind hunger – just thinking about a food can cause you to feel like it; our minds have often associated certain activities with food for example having a biscuit with coffee or having popcorn at the movies
  • Emotional hunger – food fills the void of an ache or emptiness in your heart due to unmet emotional needs
  • Thirst – confusing dehydration with the need to eat
  • Tiredness – low energy from not sleeping enough or working and exercising very hard can make you feel like your energy levels are low

Understanding why you eat is an important part of learning to improve our eating habits.  Use the lockdown time to learn about and practice listening to the hunger signal.  Keep asking yourself, ‘am I really hungry?’

If you cannot feel the light emptiness or hollowness in your stomach when it’s time to eat, you need to reconnect the brain and the stomach so that these signals can be ‘heard’ again.  Try the hunger awareness exercise below.

Hunger awareness exercise

Sit down and relax

Take a deep breath, close your eyes and focus on your stomach area (the stomach is between the lower ribs – see pic)

Describe what are you feeling? *

 Ask yourself:

Am I really hungry? 

Do I need to eat?

Could I do something else instead of eating if I am not really hungry?

It may take some time to understand the hunger signal especially if you have done a lot of dieting and calorie restriction, so be patient with the process.

* If you can’t feel anything, just say ‘I can’t feel anything’. It is OK if that is the answer to begin with. In time, as the connection between your brain and stomach strengthen, something will come through.

* The email will not be published on the website.