Food cravings and emotions

Did you know you can match food cravings to specific emotions?
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\nIn my work as a weight-loss counselor, I've learned you can separate non-hungry eating into two distinct types-head hunger and heart hunger. While these categories don't always fit, most of the time they'll give you a good idea of what emotional need you're having when food cravings hit.
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\n"Head hunger" makes you look for foods that are chewy, crunchy, or thick-textured. Examples include candy bars, chips, or pizza. Head hunger foods are usually correlated with pressure emotions such as anger, stress, frustration, irritation, bitterness, resentment.
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\nWith "heart hunger," you're more likely to want food that's soft, creamy or sweet. Typical choices might be ice cream, pastries, pasta, or desserts. Heart-hunger foods are correlated with empty emotions such as boredom, loneliness, depression, fear or anxiety, discouragement or disappointment.
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\nWhenever you get a food craving, notice which category of food you're wanting. If it's a chewy or crunchy food, ask yourself, 'What do I want to chew on in life right now?' Perhaps it's your boss, or your kids, or the report you have due in an hour.
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\nThen ask yourself, "Will eating change this person or situation?" Of course, the answer is NO. Your boss will still be mean and your kids will still misbehave. So decide what you can do instead of eating. Maybe you just need to take a walk or do some deep breathing or some other kind of diversion.
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\nWhen you realize you're seeking smooth, creamy foods or sweets, ask yourself, "What's empty or missing right now? What am I wishing for?" Once you identify your empty emotional need or desire, try to fill that need in a healthy way such as by taking a bath, listening to music or calling a friend.
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\nThis simple food correlation gives you an instant way to recognize which emotional needs are driving you toward non-hungry eating. Using that knowledge, you can look for ways to address your real needs instead of reaching for food as a solution.
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\nAbout the author
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\nLinda Spangle, RN, MA, is a weight-loss coach specializing in emotional eating, and the author of 100 Days of Weight Loss, a book of daily lessons that helps people stay committed to their diet and exercise plans. Her website is www.weightlossjoy.com.
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5/7/2007 7:13:29 PM

Comments
Wow Linda. This is great information! I try to have patients realize that they should not eat something that is not healthy for them when they are feeling stressed or emotional. It only compounds the problem. I wrote about it here. <url removed> Thank you for the great information. Dr. Robert Ciprian
Posted by drciprian
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On the cookies, they can be a way to "chew on something" in life such as frustration, anger, or stress. But they can also be a way to feel nurtured or loved. I still remember falling down and skinning my knee as a kid, then having my mom say, "Here's a cookie, it will make it feel better." So now, when I have painful times in my life, I start to crave cookies. But I also know that I can use other ways to feel better, so I try to do things like listen to music, take a walk, or talk to one of my friends instead of eating cookies. Linda Spangle
Posted by LindaSpangle
What about cookies? I have a friend who is obsessed with them. She usually eats the crunchy kind. Does that mean something is frustrating here in life?
Posted by
Hi-This whole issue relates to emotional eating, something most of us do at least now and then. I define it as 'anytime you reach for food when you aren't physically hungry or needing nutrition.' So that includes the bowl of ice cream at bedtime, the candy bar in the afternoon because you're stressed at work, and searching the refrigerator because you just 'want something.'\n\nSound familiar? Tell me about your own struggles with this challenge to successfully losing weight. Linda Spangle
Posted by LindaSpangle
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