For more information about the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, visit www.AmIHungry.com or my website.
Do you ever get to the end of a long day, a day when you’ve had to do many things for other people, and feel like you just need something for yourself? And if that happens, does food tend to become the “something else”?
This is something that came up in a recent Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating workshop, and it sounded like a good explanation for why many of us reach for food in the evening, even when we’re not hungry. We’re looking for a different kind of nourishment, but it’s so easy to go for the cookies or chips or ice cream or whatever else is calling us.
After all, food is always there for us, and it doesn’t require too much effort. This is particularly true for many prepared items, where all you have to do is open a bag or box, maybe toss something in the microwave, and you’re good to go. What could be better than that?
The problem is that while the food may distract you from your underlying need, it cannot, in the end, fill that need. Even though people sometimes equate food with love, it does not love you, it can’t give you a hug or dry your tears or laugh, sing, or dance with you.
So it may benefit you to go deeper and try to understand what’s truly driving you to eat at that time, and if there are better ways to meet that need. Are you looking for a creative outlet? Are you looking to unwind? Do you want someone to talk to? Are you feeling lonely or sad? Are you anxious or stressed about something and need to vent?
The other thing to remember is that even if you have the impulse to reach for food in these moments, you can choose not to act on it. I know for myself that even after years of mindful eating, sometimes things will happen that will make me think “chocolate.” And in reality, a small piece of chocolate would be fine, as long as I don’t expect it to fix things, or alleviate everything I’m feeling.
After all, some things can’t be fixed. For me, a better way to help cope is to go out in nature, journal, sing along to a favorite song, or talk to a good friend. What works is different for each of us, but it’s worth considering what you need to replenish and nurture yourself, something that’s just for you, that can be addressed in ways other than food.