Biological hunger is felt physically. Aside from hunger pains in our bellies, several different physical cues can tell you you’re experiencing hunger. For instance, headaches, feeling spaced out or dizzy, shaky, irritable, and thinking about eating or food can indicate that you’re experiencing biological hunger. If we’ve dieted for years, we may have lost the ability to hear these internal cues. When we’re not eating enough, our bodies go into survival mode. The body doesn’t know if another meal is coming. It’s as if we’re experiencing a famine. When food is available, we eat as much as possible to ensure our survival.
Rigid thinking/strict food rules
Restriction, whether it’s mental or biological, causes stress. This stress drives us out of our rational brain and into our survival brain. The desire to eat becomes stronger as the stress response is heightened. You may have a list of off-limits foods, and when you finally give in and can’t deny yourself anymore, you may think: “The damage is done, so why not continue eating?” I understand. I’ve been there before. I know what it feels like to feel out of control around certain foods.
Lack of self-care
Ensuring that our basic needs are met is critical when recovering from chronic dieting and disordered eating. The first step might be to set up or maintain boundaries. Many of my clients felt their needs were less important than others’ needs. Maybe it is a reality that you have to look after others people, whether it’s an ageing parent, child or another dependant. If you don’t meet your basic needs first, you won’t have enough energy to care for them. When I speak with clients about self-care, we explore options and find out what works for them. Learning to pause, acknowledge what you’re feeling and then ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” and, “How can I meet that need?” is so valuable. The more we ask ourselves what we need, the easier it becomes to identify what self-care looks like for us.
Using food to cope with difficult emotions
Sometimes eating dulls our anxiety, relieves boredom, or distracts us from uncomfortable feelings. Over time we learned that eating made us feel better, and soon food became our only coping mechanism. Now, we automatically turn to food for comfort and emotional safety. Finding ways unrelated to food to cope with uncomfortable feelings and learning self-soothing techniques can help you escape emotional binge-eating.
Don’t let diet culture steal any more of your time, energy, and money because there is a better way. Intuitive Eating can help you reclaim your life, quit dieting, stop binge eating, and achieve wellness by focusing on your body’s needs rather than on how it looks.