Think back to a time when you have gone for an extended time, intentionally or not, without food. Alternatively there might be a time when you were doing something particularly physically or mentally strenuous such that you felt completely drained afterward. When you finally were able to put food in your body did it not feel amazing and refreshing? Did you not feel invigorated and nourished? Now think again to a time you had a very relaxing experience. Maybe it was spent alone on the beach or some other secluded location. Or maybe it was spent with someone you care deeply for and whose company you find especially enjoyable. Maybe it was getting a massage or viewing an art exhibit or listening to a favorite bit of music or stopping to hear a child’s laughter or getting puppy kisses. How did you feel afterward? Did you also feel renewed, refreshed and nourished?
My point is that our bodies are “nourished” in so many ways other than food. If we slow down and take note of what is actually going on in our lives we might find that it isn’t really food we are craving but something a bit more intangible, but nonetheless fulfilling in the form of simple relaxation or human connection.
The real trick is learning to slow down and recognize these needs and when they supersede the impulsive desire for food. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed or an unusually strong desire to eat when you know there might not be a physical need, try taking a few really deep breaths and consider your circumstances. Could it be there is something that would do the job even better than food? Maybe there isn’t and food is just really what your body requires. That’s perfectly fine, but at least you will know you are eating out of choice and need rather than impulse.