Physical and Emotional Hunger; Knowing the Difference
Some days, when there is a lull in the work, or my manager Jeanine and I are on a trip that requires driving, we play the game, “Would you rather?” In this game we come up with implausible scenarios that we have to choose from. “Would you rather be ruled by Kim Jung Il or Idi Amin Dada?” “Would that be the father or son and is that 70’s or now,” comes the response.
Sometimes we have to pass, but then because we genuinely like each other, we throw in a question that enables us to get out of the realm of impossible choices; “Would you rather be hungry or full?” For both of us, hungry is always hungry is always the answer.We then launch into stories about what we did to feel full when we were growing up poor. My siblings and I would play games of eating invisible food or put our head under the kitchen faucet while someone turned the faucet on full blast. The sudden rush of water would make you feel full for a while and then we’d have to do it again. But before then, we’d sit on the porch rockers and listen to the water slosh around in our empty bellies.
I am amazed at the fact that we knew how to play hunger games long before the movie and by just how far we have come.
Still, knowing true hunger gives me the ability to choose between hungry and full. When I am too full, I am miserable. My body immediately tells me that things are amiss and I know that headaches, pain and immobility will soon follow. Still, this knowledge doesn’t always keep us from going beyond the limit.
So I’ve devised a simple question that I ask myself when I find myself eating beyond the limit.
That simple question is this; “Are you physically hungry or emotionally hungry?”
After asking the question, I stop and listen to my body. I know the feeling of physical hunger, but unfortunately with so much emotional stimuli and signals coming from everywhere, I don’t always immediately recognize emotional hunger.
When my eating coincides with bad news, I know that I am not physically hungry. When I want ice cream after seeing a sign for it; I know that this is nothing but a craving. (I’m lactose intolerant; what else could it be?)
Today, when you find yourself going back for seconds, check your emotions. If you find that something is lacking there, look to see the real connection.
Is the second helping a birthday cake the result of the fact that you couldn’t have it as a child?
Is the desire to eat candy only when you are at work directly connected to the lack of sweetness in your colleagues?
When you pull up to a drive-through fast food place and the recorded messages asks “Would you like to try... and you say yes, is this a sign that you are allowing yourself to be led by advertisements?
Was that last question way too long and do you think you deserve a cookie for rereading it?
If you have answered yes to any of the above, then your hunger has nothing to do with physical nourishment. Now, can see clearly why this blog on wellness deals so much more with how we feel than it deals with how we look.
Be you, be wonderful, be full.
Bertice Berry, PhD.