The major difference between mindful eaters and mindless eaters is why and how they eat. Ask anyone why we need food and they’ll tell you, “It’s simple. We have to eat or else we’ll die”. Food is our fuel. It keeps us going. It fuels our active lives. NHS Heroes – https://www.nhsheroes.co.uk/
For the mindless eater, however, food fulfills this function incidentally. The “hungry” signal is rarely what sends the mindless eater to food. More often a mindless eater eats in response to anxiety. It’s like a nervous habit, just like smokers reach for another cigarette when they feel anxious.
This is why it is so important to become aware and understand the two types of hunger. I like to call them physical and psychological. Physical hunger is connected to our physiological need to refuel. It’s the kind of hunger that sustains life. Mindless eaters rarely experience physical hunger and most chronic dieters are afraid of it – they view it as a form of suffering. I used to be afraid to wait for the grumbling stomach before eating, but now I welcome it because that’s when food tastes best. Thin eaters eat this way.
Mindless eaters most often eat from psychological hunger – which has nothing to do with sustenance of life. It includes the eating you do “just because it’s there”, “because you have to put something in your mouth”, “because it tastes good”, “because it looks so delicious”, “because it would be a shame to throw it away”, “because you feel lonely/ anxious/depressed”, or “because someone offered it to you”.
Psychological hunger is what summons you to the refrigerator as soon as you sit down to work. Psychological hunger is what continues to send spoon after spoon of ice-cream to your mouth long after you’ve begun to feel ill.
Psychological hunger is the kind of hunger that you’ve attempted to control with diets. You’ve probably responded to it by chastising yourself. “What’s wrong with me? You’ve said. All that ice-cream was the last thing I needed. I have no discipline/willpower. Why did I do it?
It’s important to be compassionate with yourself and understand that eating as a response to psychological hunger has been your best attempt to take care of yourself. Start observing your eating habits over the course of a few days and begin to recognize what type of hunger you eat for.