Mouth V Belly: Breaking the Chain of Emotional Eating

BostonBy Carolyn Harvey, Figure Athlete and Personal Trainer.

I have wanted to write this blog for some time now as it is a subject close to my heart. I sincerely hope that some of you reading this will relate to my experience and that it may help you identify false hunger.

I love eating; I like good food, but sometimes I get an overwhelming urge to bury my head into a tub of ice-cream or buy a bag of Boston crème doughnuts and sit at home shoving them into my mouth, delighting in the crème being all over my face.

I feel hungry, ravished in fact, and I have a weird sensation in my mouth and throat, a sort of craving that can only be satisfied by gorging on vast amounts of sugar and junk food. Sound familiar? Usually if I succumb to this feeling (and sometimes this still happens, although thankfully it only seems to occur now and again) I end up having a massive munch of junk which is closely followed by feelings of guilt, shame and regret and a promise to myself that it won’t happen again but invariably it does, at some point.

The thing is that I don’t enjoy this; I detest it and so the time came where I had to do something about it. Secret: I have actually been known to jump from shop to shop picking up flapjacks, brownies and caramel squares while walking to my destination, in order to calm the little devil inside that demands attention. And that’s exactly what I have come to realise over the past few years. It is something that is demanding attention. I was talking to a good friend about this some years ago and he said to me…”Carolyn, it’s not what you are eating; it’s what’s eating you!” LIGHT BULB MOMENT! PING!

I have come to realise that that craving I spoke about in my mouth and throat is a false hunger, one that is born of emotion, stress and adrenalin. Real hunger has been identified as the achy groany sensation in my belly and is satisfied with good wholesome food. When I was a kid, if I had fallen and hurt myself, the pain would’ve been taken away with a hug and a sweet. ‘There, there, that will make it better’.  This can carry on into adulthood and when one is faced with emotional pain or upset, Boston crème doughnuts look like a hug in a bag. It’s easier than baring your soul to a friend about what is really going on and no one has to know about it. You can sit on your own at home and feed the emotion until it shuts up. But it only ever shuts up temporarily and will demand attention once more if it isn’t dealt with.

Cookies Once I had realised the difference between these two hungers, I was able to question myself when I felt that mouth sensation start up. It is similar to the tingly sensation you get when you open a bag of salt and vinegar crisps without even having eaten any! Actually why does that happen?! So weird! So these days, as soon as I think I need a cookie cuddle, I ask myself what’s going on. Am I tired? Upset? Angry? Stressed out? Feeling low? Feeling high on excitement? Within a few minutes of self-questioning I find my answer and more often than not, avoid the attack of the mouth hunger. However, sometimes (I am human), I give in. I mean come on; a cookie cuddle is much more appealing than a broccoli cuddle. If this does occur, I let it go, move on and take a peek at what is going on beneath the surface. If you can identify with this and the blog has helped you, then you’ve made my day!

This subject can be difficult to talk about, so I hope that in sharing my experience, some of you will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that ‘mouth hunger’ affects many!

Carolyn x

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