Another Lesson In Emotional Eating- If Hunger Isn’t The Problem, Food Is Not The Solution

So many of us struggle with emotional eating. Most are aware. Some are still in denial. The bottom line is that if your hunger isn’t driven by a physical need for food, it is emotional. This is a difficult concept for some to connect to because they have become so out of touch with their emotions and so adept at shutting emotion down as soon as they feel something unpleasant, they don’t even recognize when they have emotion. More often than not, my clients are so out of touch with their emotions, they don’t even know how to differentiate thoughts from emotions, much less, articulate the emotion they are feeling at any given time. Generally when this happens, we search for anything and everything to take away the discomfort. This is how emotional eating is born! We feel something unpleasant and reach for something sweet, salty and/or fatty to soothe us. Food becomes an escape, a comfort and a way to numb the pain. It builds strong connections in the brain that can be difficult to break on your own. In the process, you lose the ability to differentiate between your legitimate physical needs for food and the desire to wash away the pain with emotional eating. So, let’s talk about head hunger vs. stomach hunger.

Head Hunger

Comes on suddenly
Only certain foods will do (generally, they don’t come in the leafy green variety)
Thoughts become preoccupied with thoughts of the particular food

Stomach Hunger

Starts more slowly and builds
Feeling physical symptoms
Stomach growling
Light headed
Any food will do (even the leafy green variety)

Learning to differentiate between stomach hunger and head hunger is an important skill. Getting in touch with your emotions is an even more important skill! If you are struggling to identify what you are feeling and it is impacting your relationship with food or you feel emotions so intensely that they are causing problems in your life, call us today for help!

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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