Ninety per cent of why we eat is behaviour-related (psychological hunger). It is not because we are hungry. It’s because we are, for example, sad, angry, depressed anxious, bored or simply it is “time to eat”.
Psychological hunger is when you want to have something to eat or drink without physical symptoms such as an empty feeling in your stomach. Once you have identified that you are experiencing psychological hunger, you can identify specifically what the eating trigger is, and develop a strategy to deal with it.
- Working at your desk
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling stressed
- Being alone
- Time-related (e.g. late in the afternoon)
- Location-related (e.g. at the movies or a restaurant)
Once you have identified your eating triggers, replace the action of psychological eating with another action, e.g. take a bath, call a friend, exercise or meditate.
Other examples that cause eating triggers and options for counteracting them include:
- Boredom – Phone a friend, read a book or exercise
- Watching television – Eat something different, e.g. vegetable sticks
- Being depressed or sad – Play uplifting music, dance or phone a friend
- Tiredness – Take a shower, exercise or meditate
Often, there will be a specific food associated with a particular trigger, e.g.
- At the movies – eating a choc-top ice cream
- In a restaurant – eating bread as an entrée
- Drinking alcohol – eating chips or peanuts
- Drinking coffee or tea – eating biscuits
If everyone ate only when they were hungry, and only enough to satisfy their needs, then no one would ever have a weight problem (excluding cases of medical conditions causing weight gain). One of the key skills for permanent weight loss is to establish what your triggers for eating are, and to find a way to effectively deal with the trigger.