The most valuable lesson I have learned is that the most meaningful journey is the inner journey.

Busy Day, Healthy Choices

What our food cravings tell us about our bodies and emotions

Jean Edelman: Hi, I’m Jean Edelman. For decades, I’ve been a student of the healing arts, Reiki, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, plant based and macrobiotic cooking. Join me on this journey and hear my word of the week.

Great to be with you this week. This week I want to talk about being hungry, but what else is going on? Food is life and we need it to function to be the best version of ourselves.

So here’s my question. Why do we repress and ignore our hunger and our thirst? Our body is so wise. It is telling us what it needs and it needs sustenance. Now we can question: Do we need food? Do we need water? Are we tired? Are we stressed? Are we in need of comfort?

Usually food is the answer to this, but let’s just talk about and clarify the meaning of hunger, the physical meaning of hunger. Physical hunger is a signal from our body to our brain. So our stomach may growl. We may get cranky. We may get tired. We all have our symptoms of what happens when we’re hungry. I get cranky. So that’s why I’m really good about eating throughout the day. But be that as it may, our physical hunger.

So there are hormones associated with our hunger. There is the hormone ghrelin. It is the hormone that sends the message to our brain that we need to fill our fuel tank. Now, once we’ve eaten, there’s a hormone leptin. This is the hormone that sends the message that we’re full. When we eat at regular times during the day, we have this very good balance. We’re not letting these hormones get out of whack.

But the norm is that when we’re busy and we don’t take the time to sit down and eat now, insulin’s kicking in. Now glucose is kicking in. Now cortisol comes into play and we throw ourselves so out of balance. And another piece of this is lack of sleep plays a huge part on our metabolism because ghrelin is surging and making it harder for us to feel hungry. Cortisol is flooding our bloodstream with a constant SOS, and when we’re tired, we will throw anything into the fuel tank and usually it’s sugar and carbs.

So let’s take a moment. Let’s stop. Let’s decipher the cues we’re getting and work with our bodies to satisfy what we need. When our body is telling us we’re hungry. How about we love ourselves enough to fill our fuel tank? Let’s make sure we’re filling it with whole fresh foods. No fast food, no sugar. Let’s take some time to cook for ourselves a little bit. I know we’re busy, but you know what? Maybe on a Sunday afternoon we can make a pot of soup or some side dishes. That will go a long way for our week. So our action item is to really look at our week and plan our three meals. Our action item is to notice when we’re hungry.

For instance, I get up pretty early in the morning. I eat before nine. And you know what? Usually by like 11:30, I’m hungry for my lunch. Let’s notice things like this so that we have a snack because maybe we can’t get a full lunch until maybe a little bit later. Let’s also notice, are we craving anything? Do we need something salty? Do we need something crunchy? Do we need something sweet? Do we need something creamy? These are all signals that of craving that we should pay attention to because that can help us decide what kind of food we want to eat. Because whatever that is, we want to make sure it’s in a healthier version.

If we want something crunchy, we can go get some fresh vegetables. If we want something salty, maybe we get some salsa or something with some spice. If we want something creamy, maybe we find a nice pudding that doesn’t have too much sugar in it. So there are things that we can eat to satisfy that craving. But the first step is to notice what the craving is and to figure it out.

The other piece of our hunger is what emotions are coming up. Anger. Fear. Sadness. And then what are the foods that we tend to go to maybe when we’re feeling sad and lonely? What are the impulse foods? Let’s pay attention to that. What’s coming up? So also, let’s ask ourselves, okay, we’re feeling sad and we want some chocolate pudding and we ate our chocolate pudding. Did that make us feel better? Let’s notice that. All right.

How about we’re feeling lonely and we’re not sure what we want to eat. How about we go drink some water and we call a friend? How about…we’re sad. It’s okay to be sad. And it’s okay to be sad and go crawl up underneath a blanket and experience the emotion. That’s okay. But then how about we go outside for a walk and get some fresh air and move around?

So our emotions are a big part of our food and it’s okay to have these emotions. We’ve talked about that and it’s okay to associate some foods with these emotions. But after we’ve eaten them, have they helped us? And that’s the question that we need to ask and answer for ourselves.

So it’s simple. This week, my word of the week is EAT.

The E is to Enter into a new contract with our body. Today we can change and we can shift and we can be more in tune. Let’s connect with these very, very intelligent cells and organs in our body and say, Hey, we are listening. They don’t have to send out the SOS all the time. Relax, we’re going to take care of you. I think of it as a child who is young and doesn’t know that mom is there and is going to feed her. Feed them. This is our body. Our body are these cells. And they’re like, ‘Hey, I’m hungry and you just keep sitting in this meeting or you keep sitting on this phone call or you keep starting something different. And I want you to stop and I want you to feed me’. That’s what’s happening. So we need to pay attention and love ourselves and stop ignoring and suppressing this hunger. It’s okay. It’s human to be hungry. We need to feed ourselves and feed ourselves well. And if we can get in control of these emotions and understand the foods, maybe next time the emotion shows up, maybe we’ll just go for that walk. Or instead of reaching for the chocolate chip cookie, maybe it’s okay to eat the chocolate chip cookie, realize how it makes us feel, then go for the walk. We’ve just got to put in some more positive activity there. The emotions make us human. It’s all okay. Food is so much of our life. Having a positive relationship with it is important.

The A is to Adjust, adjust our day to make sure we’re eating, we’re drinking, We’re taking our breaks. We’re getting outside. We’re not at war with this beautiful body. We are our body. Remember, I talked about the inner smile? That inner hug that we can give ourselves throughout the day. It will be our best step to have a balanced, joyful day. Don’t fight ourselves. Just love ourselves.

And the T is to Tune, to tune in. And this occurs in our micro moments. Our bodies constantly sending us these messages. If we start our day tuned in and have the intention that we’re going to listen throughout the day, I think our body will remain calm and we can have a nicer cruise through our day instead of our body being that little child saying, ‘feed me, feed me, feed me. I’m hungry, hungry, hungry.” Stop, stop, stop.

So let’s be friends with our body. Let’s give it that hug. Let’s give it that inner smile. Let’s start the day saying, “Hey, I’m going to listen. I’m here for you.” Let’s figure out some nice food for the day. Let’s promise ourselves that we’ll stay tuned in for what we need. Have a great week, everybody.

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