Hack Non-Hunger Eating Now!
- Mel’s weekly food pick: Pederson’s Breakfast Sausage
- Mel’s weekly recipe pick: Triple-Layer Avocado “Toast”
Ever find yourself reaching for food when you aren’t even hungry? It’s like a hidden force, a compulsion of sorts. You don’t know why, nor can you pinpoint an exact emotion; you just feel driven to eat, and if food is nearby, you usually do!
Maybe it’s a piece of candy or some leftover pastry sitting on the counter. Or, it can even be a food that’s good for you, like almonds or blueberries. But I’ll tell you something: if you’re eating those almonds or blueberries out of a nameless, unconscious, non-hunger urgency, it isn’t good for you.
Mel’s confession: “I have episodes of non-hunger eating”
People tend to think I have no issues with food, that I have it all figured out and eat mindfully, healthfully and on purpose 24-7 (ha, ha…that’s so cute! 🙂 ).
We are all here to help one another on some level, so who would I be if I kept this confession from you out of fear that you would see me as imperfect?
Well guess what? I AM imperfect…perfectly imperfect, even/especially in the area where I’m supposed to be the expert.
Not long ago I was struck with a profound realization about myself. It was one of those a-ha, this-changes-everything moments where a hidden (yet comfortable) layer of myself was suddenly exposed…and I was forever changed. I couldn’t unlearn what I discovered at that moment, nor would I ever want to.
I believe at our core, human beings are inherently the same, especially when it comes down to certain drivers of behavior. See if you can recognize my non-hunger eating pattern in yourself:
On my way to a meeting in downtown Cleveland, I run into some unexpected traffic. My GPS now shows a delay, changing my ETA and making me late. Although not a terribly stressful situation, it was something I wasn’t happy about.
Staring at me from the passenger’s seat was my lunch bag, packed with sliced apples, a nutrition bar, and an assortment of raw vegetables. The moment I realized I wouldn’t make it to my meeting on time, I immediately reached for the apples and started eating.
Now, you may be thinking: What’s wrong with that? Apples are healthy!
Did I mention it was 8:00 am and I just ate breakfast an hour earlier? So I wasn’t the least bit hungry…at least not physically.
Non-hunger eating: a profound realization (this changes everything!)
As I was mindlessly munching away on those apple slices, like a ton of bricks it hit me: whether it’s a traffic jam, a moment of procrastination, feelings of anxiousness or indecisiveness:
Any time I experience that which I wish were different than it presently is, I feel an uncomfortable emptiness inside and am strongly compelled to fill this void with food—to make it comfortable again.
Even though 99% of the time I’m filling this void with Earthfood, it may as well be a chocolate chip cookie, because I’m eating it mindlessly, and for the wrong reason. I’m not even tasting the food. In fact:
Eating (and really tasting) a single chocolate chip cookie in a state of pure mindfulness, purpose, and enjoyment, would be a much healthier choice. Seriously.
A profound (yet simple) SOLUTION for non-hunger eating
If you use food to fill those uncomfortable “voids” in your life, first it’s important to be alert and present enough to recognize what triggers you. Be careful! It’s easy to turn a blind eye to your triggers because your response to them (food) can be quite inviting and comforting. I mean let’s face it, there’s nothing off-putting about blueberries, almonds or chocolate chip cookies. What I’m saying is, you may not even realize you are being triggered because the “reward” feels so damn good.
I’d be willing to bet my cat George (and I LOVE him with all of my heart) that if you really dig deep, you will find your root trigger boils down to: any situation you are in that you wish were different than it is.
- An argument with your significant other or child (“Why can’t they see it my way?”)
- A dreaded work project with a tight deadline (“Ugh! I don’t even know where to begin with this project!”)
- A demotion or loss of job (“What am I going to do about my bills? I can barely make ends meet as it is!”)
- An overwhelming to-do list (“There’s no way I’m going to get all of this done!”)
- Illness or death of a loved one (“The emotional pain is just too much for me to bear”)
- A rainy day (“I wish the sun was out”)
- A challenging coworker (“OMG—I’m at my wits end with this guy. Why does he have to be such a jerk?”)
Any one of these can be a trigger, causing you to reach for food. Of course the impossibility of eradicating unwanted circumstances should be obvious, for that would mean the end of life as you know it! But what if maybe, just maybe, you could fill this void with something other than food? Something pure, necessary, life-sustaining…and free?
What if you could successfully fill the void with a single breath?
Transcend undesirable states…without food
Although three slices of cheese pizza may offer momentary bliss, after the last bite, you will still be left facing the undesirable.
You can never outeat the undesirable. Remember, Domino’s is just a phone call away!
As uncomfortable as it may seem, the only true way out of an undesirable experience is to go within and allow yourself to experience the moment as it is. Yes, I know pizza is a much more attractive option, but I promise this won’t kill you.
To experience this moment as it is requires you to be fully present in your body, completely alert and aware of all the raw feelings and emotions that are bubbling up. Yet it’s impossible to be fully present when you are consumed with the past or future (which is how most of us live our lives); you can only be present when you bring your attention into the now. It is here in this very moment, in the now, where you are able to tap into your greatest power.
The present moment is where all of your power lives; your life-giving breath is the key that unlocks the door to the present moment.
Surely you don’t have to think about breathing, but when you stop and pay attention to your breath, you automatically transport yourself into the present moment, the now. Think about it: you can only breathe in the now. Go ahead, I double dare you to breathe in the past or future.
Hack your non-hunger eating now (in the now)
Let’s put this into practice.
- Think about an undesirable situation you are faced with on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just something you wish were different than it is.
- Take a deep breath in and let it out. Without judgement, allow yourself to be here now, with whatever is. If your mind wanders, bring it back with another conscious breath in and out.
- As you shine the light of presence on the situation, you should feel the dark energy of the unwanted begin to lift slightly. Take another breath, settle into your body and feel it breathing. Your energy should feel a bit lighter still, as the void is being filled with the power of your sweet, life-sustaining breath.
Most of us automatically try to fight the situation by complaining further about the undesirable; then we instruct ourselves not to eat the food. This not only adds fuel to the fire of the undesirable, it gives a tremendous amount of power to the food. And I’ll bet my cat George, that under these conditions, you will eat the food.
The beauty of being human is that if you are open and willing to take a long, loving look at yourself, there’s no limit to what you can discover…and transcend.
Mel’s weekly food pick:
Pederson’s Breakfast Sausage
A great on-the-go breakfast solution, Pederson’s Breakfast Sausage is free from preservatives (including nitrites and nitrates), antibiotics, hormones, added sugar and artificial ingredients.
All of their products are Certified Humane Raised & Handled®. This is the only farm animal welfare and food labeling program in the U.S. dedicated to improving the welfare of farm animals in food production and include all stages of the animal’s life.
Available in spicy or mild, Pederson’s Breakfast Sausage is fully cooked, so all you have to do is heat it up (I like to heat mine stove top versus microwave).
Check out the full list of what’s inside:
INGREDIENTS: PORK, WATER, LESS THAN 2% OF: VINEGAR, SALT, SPICES (RED & BLACK PEPPERS, SAGE, GINGER, NUTMEG, SPICE EXTRACTIVE [CAPSICUM]).
For a tasty and nutritious breakfast, check out this week’s recipe pick below for Triple-Layer Avocado “Toast”. Pederson’s Breakfast sausage is one of the layers!
If you prefer chicken sausage, another great product is Applegate Naturals Chicken & Apple Breakfast Sausage Patties.
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Triple-Layer Avocado Toast