We all experience two types of hunger: emotional hunger and physical hunger.
Physical hunger is what we are honoring when we eat to supply our bodies with more energy.
Emotional hunger is when we eat even though we don’t need food.
Having a healthy relationship with food doesn’t always mean that you only eat when you’re physically hungry, but it does mean you eat with intention.
If I’m not physically hungry, but I want to enjoy a snack, I like to evaluate why I’m wanting to eat it.
If I want to eat because of boredom or to avoid anxiety, I want to let myself feel those emotions instead of hiding from them with food. Food can be used to help us avoid our emotions. Try to notice what you want to avoid by eating instead of avoiding it.
There is a thin line though. Sometimes avoiding certain foods is a way for me to hide from the anxiety of feeling full. Part of having a healthy relationship with food means that I allow myself to eat things that I want to eat.
The trick to knowing what is best is to evaluate whether or not it’s time to eat. Ask yourself these questions:
What am I feeling right now? If it’s physical huger, eat.
Are you trying to avoid an emotion by eating? Then name the emotion you’re feeling and allow yourself to sit in that discomfort. This will help you build confidence that you don’t need to use food to cope with discomfort.
Are you trying to avoid emotional discomfort by not eating this? An example of this is not eating sweets because you don’t want to feel guilty. This can include dieting or restricting food and is another form of avoiding emotions.
Having a healthy relationship with food means also having a healthy relationship with ourselves. As you decide when you choose to eat or not eat, you will be able to get to know yourself on a deeper level.