What Are You Really Hungry For?

October 1st, 2011 | Posted by Alison Spath in Healthy Habits

Lasting weight loss is serious business.

If and when you lose a significant amount of weight, (and even a small amount of weight can qualify as “significant”) it will likely be a big part of your personal evolution and the life long journey you’re on to understanding and truly knowing yourself.

It’s usually not until after you’ve lost the weight or have hit a plateau that you discover losing weight is only half the battle.  Keeping the weight off is the other half.  It can be really tough to work through personal baggage and heal old wounds that may have lead you to turn to food for comfort or entertainment in the past.  In some cases it will be even harder than counting calories or finding the motivation to exercise or get active.

There are a bunch of “band-aids” you can use to save yourself from weight gain when you’re working on weight loss or weight maintenance and haven’t yet begun to deal with some of the deeper issues that might be at play.  Band-aids in the form of healthy habits like teaching yourself to enjoy healthy foods and learning to keep sugary, salty, empty-calorie filled foods out your house and cupboards so that if you do comfort eat, you’re at least making good choices. Or finding a form exercise that you enjoy, but maybe sometimes use to keep busy or distract yourself from uncomfortable feelings or even burn off calories from overindulgence.

These are all band-aids.

And band-aids certainly have their place – we use band-aids to protect ourselves from further damage or infection while we heal from injury.

Band-aids are meant to be temporary.

Some band-aids are great! Nobody’s crying over learning to love salad or truly looking forward to getting out for a run or no longer having any urge to buy soda or other chemicals masquerading around as “food”.

You can have a million band-aids or tricks up your sleeve to save yourself from the negative consequences of self-destructive behavior, but eventually you’re going to have to get to the bottom what’s really going on inside you – big or little.

What if you could get away from using a band-aid and got to work on healing?

I’ve learned to ask myself a seemingly simple question to help get to the bottom of false hunger.  If I find myself going from cupboard to fridge and back to the cupboard again in search of something, I’ve learned to stop and ask:

“What am I really hungry for?”

And sometimes that answer will surprise you.  Today, my answer to that question was:

I am hungry for a clean kitchen floor.

Clean Kitchen Floor

When the house is untidy and there are toys on the counters and crumbs on the floor and I’m feeling overbooked and overwhelmed by it all – I start feel restless. I feel stressed. I feel snacky. 

At first glance, I don’t realize that’s what I need – a clean kitchen!  The amazing thing about that little question is that the more often you ask it, the better you get at answering it.  And the sooner you start to see what’s really eating at you, the sooner you can stop looking for something to eat.

Obviously it’s not always as simple as sweeping and mopping.  Maybe a clean house isn’t what you’re hungry for.  Sometimes what we really need is stimulation – and if keeping your weight under control is your goal, it will be your job to figure out how to find stimulation that has nothing to do with food.

Sometimes I’m hungry for a less hectic schedule and can satisfy that hunger by getting out of something I’ve agreed to do (even if that might mean letting someone down) or better yet, learning to say “no” from the start and stop agreeing to do things that I don’t really want or need to do.

Once you start asking yourself this question, you’ve got a much better chance at getting an answer.  (Funny how that works!)  This is how you might be able to stop slapping on band-aids and start getting to the root of what’s really going on inside you and what you really need.

Because there’s this thing about needs; they keep coming back over and over again until they finally get met.

Intuitive Eating is one of my all time favorite books that can help you get to the bottom of any emotional eating that may be preventing you from reaching your weight loss goals.  Fit From Within is another book that helped me early on, after I’d lost the weight and was caught off guard by how tough it sometimes felt to stay at my new weight while also staying sane.

The next time you find yourself eating and you’re not sure why – try asking yourself what you’re really hungry for and see where your answer takes you.

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