A client told me the other day, “I’m never hungry. My stomach never growls.” When someone tells me that she is never hungry, I bring up my favorite subject: mindfulness.
You were born knowing when you were hungry and when you had enough to eat. Unfortunately, for some of us, our hunger and fullness signals got mixed up. Whether it was a well-meaning adult that made you “clean your plate”, learning that eating chocolate helped you feel better when you were sad, or ignoring hunger pangs to lose weight—you started to ignore your hunger/fullness cues and now you might not know what your body is telling you anymore.
If you are like my client and confused about what your body is or is not telling then, then mindful eating will help you. According to The Center for Mindful Eating, mindful eating is:
“Mindfulness is the capacity to bring full attention and awareness to one’s experience, in the moment, without judgment. Mindful Eating brings mindfulness to food choice and the experience of eating.
Mindful eating helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to eating, reconnecting us with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety.”
Doesn’t that sound really beneficial? Wouldn’t you like more of that awareness with your body? I think we all would.
There are many benefits of mindful eating that I could discuss with you, but I just want to focus on one right now: learning how to tell when your body is hungry. Here are steps take periodically throughout the day:
Step 1: Pause and stop what you are doing.
Step 2: Minimize distractions (phone, TV, conversations, driving, etc.).
Step 3: Take three big, deep breaths.
Step 4: Scan your body from head to toe, noticing if anything feels “off.”
Step 5: Pay attention to the part of your body that doesn’t feel right. Let’s say you notice you have a headache, for example. Could it be that it needs nourishment?
Step 6: Ask yourself some questions to figure out if it is related to hunger:
When was the last time I ate?
*What did I eat today?
*What time is it?
*Am I feeling stressed?
*How much have I had to drink today?
If you determine that your headache could be due to low blood sugar, then go ahead and eat something nourishing.
And that is using mindful eating in a nutshell to learn more about your hunger. I realize it’s not always as easy as that. It takes a lot of patience and practice. The benefits are worth it! That same client I mentioned who said he never felt hungry started using mindfulness and determined that when he was cranky in the morning it was due to skipping breakfast. He started eating a small breakfast (yogurt and fruit) and is not irritable in the morning anymore!
How does your body tell you it’s hungry? Comment below. And to learn more about mindful eating, check out my most popular class Chocolate and Mindfulness: Why We Need Both.