What are you Hungry For? : The Art of Mindful Eating
By Charryse Johnson MA
Have you ever had a moment where you couldn’t decide what you had a taste for? Or perhaps you’ve eaten when you weren’t physically hungry or past a comfortable point of fullness? In intermittent isolation, these are normalized situations that most of us have experienced. Yet upon further reflection, our association with food can provide us with some insightful information regarding our relationship with the world, self, and others.
Much of our social past times revolve around food. Hence our connection with food can create wonderful feelings of nostalgia or celebration. In moments of deep sorrow food may once again surface, now playing the role of comfort. For those in which food is a scarcity, food can dually provide a source of physiological need and safety. For others abstaining from food may serve as an effort to physically disconnect and reduce the ability to feel. Wherever you lie upon the spectrum, it’s clear that at any given point our emotional experiences become the catalyst to our interactions with food. Yet as much as it seems to be about the food, it truly is not. The larger question often becomes, “What are you hungry for?”
Mindful eating becomes a powerful way to answer this question. It is an approach to learning to pay attention, noticing your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.
It’s allowing your body to catch up to your brain and accepting your current state without judgment or avoidance. Research indicates that individuals with low emotional ability often have parallel struggles with restrictive patterns or delayed gratification towards food. (Kidwell et al., 2015). Mindless eating causes us to become less effective at thinking about how we feel and using our emotions wisely. Consequently food can become the means to silently communicating what we are unable or unwilling to verbally express and acknowledge.