(The following excerpt from What Are You Really Hungry For? by Ann Goebel-Fabbri recently appeared on psychology today.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
If you’re like most people in our culture, you don’t just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. We have the luxury of living in a land of food abundance, but it also comes at a price. Dr. Kelly Brownell, a psychologist and dean of the school of public policy at Duke University and formerly the director at Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, refers to the United States as a “toxic food environment.” What he means by this is that everywhere we turn, there are tempting, low-cost, high-calorie foods tempting us. Additionally, there is an entire marketing machine behind these foods – even psychologists and other scientists who know exactly the most powerful way to display things, use the power of scent, and create the most attractive images.
Combine this abundance with stress, loneliness, the need to unwind, or the like, and you may find yourself living and reliving an unhealthy pattern. Typically, these feelings or situations combine with an automatic negative way of thinking and result in overeating or snacking.
Three common reasons we eat when we’re not hungry:
Stress – Do you find yourself in the habit of walking in after a hard day’s work and heading straight to the fridge or the snack cabinet? Are you actually hungry? Is food the solution to feeling stressed and needing to unwind?
Loneliness – At the end of your day, on the weekends, or any other time you find yourself alone is another high risk time for snacking or overeating. Are you actually hungry? Is food the solution to your feelings of isolation?
Boredom – Do you find yourself rummaging around the kitchen and snacking when you have nothing else to do? Are you actually hungry? Is food the solution to the problem when you feel disengaged and can’t find something that interests you?
The bottom line is this:
Ask yourself, “What am I really hungry for?” If it’s not food, then it’s time to start finding some real and effective solutions.