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Hunger and Emotional Eating

Kim Shapira
April 17, 2023
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People eat for 4 reasons. What are these 4 reasons and how do distractions jump into the reasoning? Remember Rule #3 is Eat Without Distraction.

Did you know eating angry counts as a distraction? When we're angry, we aren't focusing on our food we eat. We are mainly focusing on our anger. This causes disruptions in our digestion, which can lead to stomach related complications like bloating, acid reflux and diarrhea. The symptoms can be worse for people suffering from IBS and colitis. Our body responds to discomfort (anger, stress, boredom, anxiety, hunger) in under ten seconds. And in this time 1,400 different sensations occur to help our body deal with this "discomfort". This reaction then causes our mind to seek something more fun than what our body is feeling. Our minds tell us by forming a thought, "food is fun" and if we aren't mindful we fall for it. Sure food is fun, but is it possible that whatever we are experiencing is also okay and will pass. And food can remain as one important part of your life- as fuel?

4 Reasons Why People Eat:

1. Food is in Front of You: Whether there is a plate of veggies or a plate of cheese and crackers, when there is food in front of us, we are more likely to eat it. Mindless eating is still distracted eating. It's very easy to mindlessly put food in our mouths and snack away. Chatting with a friend while reaching your hand into the bowl, back and forth. It also means we're not following Rule #1 which is to Eat Only When You're Hungry!   2. Emotional Eating: When we're stressed, sad, excited or as mentioned above, angry, many people turn to eating. It's a source of comfort and fills that empty spot or nervousness in us. Although it may temporarily make us feel somewhat comforted, it's not actually solving our problem and often makes us feel even worse. Following the Kim Shapira Method should help halt any emotional eating. But if you find yourself going back to that old comfort habit, try to create a new habit: start with a glass of water, or go for a walk (get your 10,000 steps in), ride a bike, fold laundry, paint, or go play with your kids/grandkids to help you regulate your emotional temperature when those emotions creep in.  3. Hunger: Ding Ding Ding!! We eat because we're hungry! AND hunger is the ONLY true reason we should be eating!  We have received the cues and now is the right time to eat and refuel ourselves. Again, this should only be happening when we are cued and our body tells us that we need to be nourished, aka, and the hunger is in your stomach! As we finish this week, try to focus on only eating when you're hungry. Make sure you're not distracted either! You will definitely know when it's time. Finally, if we eat with distractions we won’t feel our hunger cues and any excess fuel will be stored in your body as fat.

4. Cravings: Sugar cravings are actually withdrawal symptoms. They aren't comfortable and our mind rationalizes bad ideas when this occurs. Have you ever noticed an itch you might have- the itch gets worse until your scratch it, your mind could literally become hyperfocused on it til you do the deed. But have you also noticed that if you don't scratch it-it will go away, all on it's own. Practice this. Cravings are like itches- they come and then can go, let them. Be hungry when you eat.

Kim Shapira

Kim Shapira

dietitian and nutrition therapist.

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