I am a big fan of quotes. It is baffling to me how much motivation and clarity I can find in a few short words spoken by someone I don’t even know. Take my latest “favorite” for example…
“If hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution.”
Duh. That makes sense, right? But it touches me on a deeper level, as I imagine it would touch many of you. More often than not we look to food for reasons that have nothing to do with growling bellies.
When did you last open your fridge or pantry and stare blankly into it, only to grab something, eat it and return a few minutes later to repeat the process? If you find yourself doing this often, then most likely hunger isn’t the problem. Boredom? Loneliness? Stress? Maybe… but not hunger.
The first important step in creating a healthier lifestyles is tracking what you are eating (which is why it is a wonderful to log your foods!). The next step is beginning to ask yourself why you are eating. Breakfast… well I woke up and I was hungry – check! A great way to start the day. Maybe by lunch you knew you’d be hungry soon, so you ate your turkey sandwich, carrots and yogurt- check! That makes sense. But then you notice after dinner, you begin reaching for food when you aren’t hungry. Chips, ice cream, graham crackers and peanut butter, leftover pizza… do they all start sounding irresistible around 8:30pm? Or do you find yourself at a party and can’t seem to leave the snack table, even though you’ve already eaten dinner? Now we’re on to something!
Once you’ve started noticing when your non-hunger eating begins, you can begin to do something about it. For beginners, acknowledge the times that you are reaching for food and you aren’t hungry. Really, say it out loud. Once you hear yourself say it, you will most likely giggle, but then you can begin to explore why you are standing in front of the fridge. Take a few minutes to evaluate what you are feeling. Boredom? Loneliness? Stress? Happiness? Nervousness? Exhaustion? Social Anxiety? If the feeling isn’t hunger, then eating won’t solve it. Make a note on your food log of the time and what you’re feeling, so you can begin to notice a pattern in your behavior. Then, and this part is important, step away from the fridge.
The next step is to replace the old habit (eating mindlessly when not hungry) with a new behavior. Here are some suggestions: write in your journal (a great way to evaluate what you’re really feeling), go for a walk, go for a bike ride, do a work out video, put on music and dance around your living room, get out of the house and run an errand, take up scrapbooking (or other arts and crafts), call a friend, chew some gum, pick up knitting while you watch tv (so your hands stay busy and away from snacks), drink some tea or flavored water, take a long bath, reorganize your closet, read a good book, play a board game with your family, meditate, go to the gym, frame some pictures, paint a room, or… blog about it