Q & A: Eating when NOT hungry + Bounce Back after a Binge

Today, I'm trying out a different post - answering your questions in a Q & A format! Thank you all of you who have taken time to send me questions or sent them via a survey a few months ago. I really appreciate it, and if this goes well, I'd be happy to keep doing these in a Q & A post, or even a video format. Let me know if you like this or not.

Q & A: Eating when NOT Hungry + Bouncing Back after a Binge
"What do I do if I'm not hungry but still really want to eat?" -Debbie"How do I keep eating intuitively instead of losing focus or giving into binge urges?" -Ellen

I'll answer these two questions together because they're so similar.

The most biological reason we eat is to stay alive. We need food - just as much as water and air - to survive. On that level, that's why sweet and rich foods with fat in it taste so good - they do a great job getting energy to our brains and bodies to keep us alive.

Yet, my goal in life is to thrive and savor life. So, food is also social, emotional, and delicious. Intuitive eating is about listening to your body's natural cues for hunger and honoring them. Yet, there will always be times you want to eat when you're NOT hungry. That happens for everyone - even those who are "normal eaters."

My first answer is it's completely fine and normal to eat simply for the taste of food and the eating experience. I eat dark chocolate most days, usually after dinner. I'm not hungry, but I love the taste, and it closes my meal on a sweet note. In the summer, I'll often get ice cream on a hot, sunny day. I may not be hungry, and my body doesn't "need" ice cream. Yet, it's a refreshing and comforting experience - yes, 'emotional eating' can be positive.

The second answer is to explore those cravings. Ask yourself:

  • Why do you want to eat?
  • What will eating or the food offer you? An escape? Distraction? Comfort?
  • How can I take care of my needs in other ways?

Eating is one way to escape, distract yourself, or even offer yourself pleasure. Yet, it doesn't truly let yourself understand what you're feeling. You could choose to sit with the anxiety or discomfort for a while - it won't last forever. Or, you could explore other ways to nurture yourself. Perhaps, it's taking a break for a few minutes, reaching out to talk it out with a friend, or taking deep breaths.

You are capable of taking care of your needs.

And, if you go through this whole process AND still eat, it doesn't mean you are a failure. It's a practice, so try again next time.

Focus on progress, not perfection.

"What happens when you binge or even like calmly indulge? How to bounce back without being a nut and starting a cycle?" -Jamie

Perfect question to follow the first two.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself.

After a binge is the perfect - but often the hardest - time to practice self-compassion. It's the time where you'll likely feel ashamed, guilty, embarrassed, and planning on how you're going to compensate for it - by restricting, starting your diet again tomorrow, or hitting the gym.

To bounce back after a binge, practice self-compassion. You'll create a new pattern. You'll let yourself know that you are worth taking care of, at all times. Even when you feel like a failure.

Take a few minutes to do something kind for yourself. Maybe that's reading a book for fun, taking a break in child's pose, letting yourself cry and feel your emotions, or dancing to your favorite song. Our new eBook - Hips, Hunger, and the Pursuit of Healing - has lots of great "Insta-Bliss" tips to check out as well.

Make a choice to get curious about the situation rather than judgmental. Explore why the binge may have happened. Journaling about it can be super effective:

  • Were you physically hungry? Are you eating meals that satisfy you? A lot of times, feeling out of control around food is related to your body and brain being starved for energy!
  • Were you feeling anxious, uncertain, upset, sad, bored? Explore what you're feeling.
  • How else could I have met that need?
  • Would it be safe for me to sit with that emotion?

Lastly, I love what Amy Poehler says on kindness:

Practice Kindness.

Practice self-kindness, but don't be afraid to reach out to others. Find that friend who can be there for you to listen, laugh, or offer a different perspective.

If you have a question for another Q & A session, feel free to contact me with an email to hello@laurenfowler.co or share in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you!