Have you ever eaten something and then realized shortly after that you were not even that hungry? It is not uncommon for us to reach for food out of habit, boredom, or in response to life stressors as a way to cope. This is what we use to describe head hunger, or emotional hunger. Mindful eating is hard to develop. It is counteracting that little voice in your head saying you need to eat, despite already having enough food to fuel the body. It is important that we embrace what is known as mindful eating so that healthy choices can be made and no one is left feeling deprived of what their body needs to function. Here are a few ways to cope with head hunger:

1.Keep yourself busy: By keeping your brain occupied it becomes easier to redirect your focus to other activities. It may be helpful to find a hobby. Whether it is reading, painting, gardening, cleaning, or just going outside to enjoy fresh air, the options are endless.

2. Reach for the alternative: Cravings are a real thing. You may go for the sweet snacks, while others go for the salty snacks with a crunch. However, if your cravings are like most, these snacks are often not the healthiest options. Try some of these alternatives….

    • Craving something sweet? Greek yogurt with cinnamon, celery topped with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, or your favorite protein bar/shake
    • Craving something salty? Beef jerky, pork rinds, vegetables with hummus, pickles, or deli meats with cheese

3. Connect with the emotion: One of the important things about mindful eating is associating the emotion with why you are eating. Sometimes it is easy to let our emotions get the best of us but it is important to find other ways to cope.

    • Feeling bored or sad? Go do something that makes you happy
    • Feeling anxious? Go for a walk, try meditation, or drink hot tea
    • Feel lonely? Connect with someone close to you

4. Hydration is key: Water is needed for the body to function at its best. Not to mention, if you are dehydrated, you may be more likely to snack (crazy, right?).  In order to stay hydrated, make sure to have 96 oz of hydrating fluids per day. This includes beverages such as water, PowerAde zero, propel, Gatorade zero, and anything that has zero sugars and less than 15 calories.

Next time your reaching for a snack, make sure to ask yourself if you are reaching for a snack for immediate satisfaction out of emotional hunger, or if you are truly hungry. If you are physically hungry do not deny your body food, instead reach for something that will satisfy you in healthy way.

What are some alternatives you find to be helpful?