Faulty Hunger Awareness

Image of child sucking thumb which represents the early childhood signals that might lead to faulty hunger awareness.

As infants when we cry, very often our mother will put something into our mouth – something to suck, drink or eat to quieten and soothe us. This happens countless times during the most formative years of our life.

In consequence we often unconsciously link pain, anger, frustration or grief with the need to put something in our mouth.

As we mature, we’re unable to differentiate between an emotion that needs to be felt and the need for oral gratification (smoking included). Instead of feeling (and dealing with) our emotions, we unconsciously substitute hunger for emotion and then eat unnecessarily.

The neural pathways that transmit genuine hunger signals to the brain become completely confused with other emotional signals that have nothing to do with the body’s natural need for food. The mind interprets “I’m angry, hurt, uncomfortable, or frustrated” as “I need food”. This faulty hunger awareness can become so established in later life that we unconsciously reach for food as soon as we feel painful or disruptive emotions.

Obviously, we cannot deal with our challenging emotions in this way. They will inevitably return all the more intensified for being repeatedly suppressed.

This “faulty hunger” is different from “comfort eating” where we’re consciously eating to comfort ourselves – we know that we’re angry, lonely, or fearful. Faulty hunger occurs when we’re not even AWARE of the underlying emotion. When we take our awareness deep into the sensations that underlie the urge to eat, we regain awareness of blanketed emotions and can then resolve them. I use a combination of approaches to uncover and heal this imbalance. We are then able to deal with emotional challenges as and when they arise, gaining a greater depth of self-awareness.

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