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.


In an ideal world food should simply be an enjoyable way to fuel the body. However, in some instances, food has become inextricably linked with emotional messages that have nothing whatsoever to do with nourishing the body. Food can be used as a reward; the only way some people know how to demonstrate affection is by lavishing food. Others use it as a punishment: forcing children to finish everything from their plate, or sending them to bed hungry for a misdemeanour. This can have two different outcomes –…