Posted by: eveyoga | May 8, 2011

Food for Thought

While in Sydney I came across some useful reading I wanted to share with anyone who is interested in healthy habits , and specifically around eating.

“The Seven Kinds of Hunger” is a chapter from the excellent book Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays, M.D.

In it the author describes why we feel like eating and suggests that if we can tune into the kind of hunger we are experiencing, we can approach eating in an appropriate, mindful way.

Here are the seven:

* Eye hunger – I had an experience of this type of hunger last night when we went to a swish sweet shop after a satisfying dinner in a Balmain restaurant. I wasn’t the least bit hungry but the desserts on display looked delectable. So…. Actually the best way for you to satisfy eye hunger, create meals that look beautiful and are presented attractively.

* Nose hunger – Food smells can exert a powerful influence and even connect us back to childhood tastes. Walking by a bakery, we might be pulled in just because we caught a whiff of fresh bread baking. We satisfy nose hunger even when we burn essential oils or incense, or smell frangipanis or roses.

* Mouth hunger – This is the taste that we usually try to satisfy when we eat: sweet, sour, salty, piquant, bitter….and combinations of these. If we take our time eating, we’ll enjoy the taste of food rather than relying on quantity of food to satisfy us. Eating mindfully means paying attention to the sensations in the mouth that make up variety of tastes.

* Stomach hunger – we experience this hunger as “an empty stomach” or peristalsis, tummy rumbling, or even gnawing hunger, at times. Interestingly, stomach hunger needs to be satisfied moderately. Overeating when very hungry makes digestion ineffective and leads to bloated or overfull sensations. A good idea is to stop halfway through eating and assess whether the hunger is abating so as not to overeat.

Cellular hunger – This hunger signals that we are missing important nutrients in our diet. An extreme case is when a diabetic person needs to adjust insulin/sugar levels. Or when sodium and chloride levels need to be augmented by taking salt tablets because of dehydration in hot weather. If we keep essential elements in balance – water, salt, protein, carbs, minerals, vitamins and trace elements, we will satisfy cellular hunger.

Mind hunger – the domain of thoughts has us go by fads and dogma. We must all drink two liters of fluid a day. We mustn’t eat salt as it’s bad for the heart. Certain foods are villainous and then they are not. It’s a good idea to examine who is promulgating information about food and the meaning of the various studies that appear in media. Challenge what you read and are told. Dr. bays says ” When we are filled with awareness, we become filled with satisfaction.

Heart hunger – This is the hunger that looks for comfort foods to satisfy emotional vacuums: loneliness, loss, emptiness. The choices we make at times of grieving or unhappiness may be not the most healthy, especially when what we’ re really looking for is intimacy – someone to talk to or share with. To satisfy heart hunger, we need to learn how to nourish our hearts.

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