Updated: Feb 22, 2020
When I introduce myself as an Eating Psychology Coach, the majority of people are surprised to hear words Psychology and Eating in one sentence, and they respond with - "What does Psychology have to do with Food and Eating?"
Hunger is no longer the only reason we eat, but one of many.
Our relationship with food reflects our relationship with ourselves, other people and life.
Our eating patterns have more to do with our minds than with our stomachs.
Physical hunger and many other factors trigger our appetite and craving, but it’s our mind that makes decisions about When, What, How and How Much we are going to eat. The mind is the control centre that navigates our food choices and our eating behaviour. Let me show you what I mean by giving you a few examples.
The truth is feeling hungry or having a craving doesn’t automatically lead to eating (even though it often feel that way). There is always a stream of conscious and unconscious thoughts that makes us eat or not to eat.
* “Is there is anything more important than eating right now?” - And if there is we usually choose to delay eating.
* “Is this food safe?” - If the food in front of you doesn’t seem safe (maybe you saw the kitchen where it was cooked and it didn’t look clean, or maybe some ingredients don’t look fresh, or you noticed cockroach crawling across the plate) your mind will stop you from eating that food, you will choose to wait till you find a safer option, even if you are hungry.
* “Is it appropriate to eat/not to eat now?” - We are social creatures, there are some social and cultural norms that make us eat or restrain from eating depending on the situation. For example, we might choose to tolerate hunger and wait if nobody around us is eating, and on the opposite, we might choose to eat even if not feeling hungry when we find ourselves at a party or a dinner table.
* “What food is appropriate in this situation?” - This is why we might feel uncomfortable ordering a salad at the table where everyone is going for burger and chips, or we might choose to avoid ordering a pork dish if we happen to be at the table with Muslims.
* “How much is appropriate in this situation?” - This mind filter explains why some of us eat moderately when eating with other people, and overeat when eating by themselves. Or the opposite might be true too, people often find ourselves eating beyond hunger, when at others at the table keep eating.
Can you start seeing how our minds (our perceptions, believes, values, social norms, etc.) shape our eating behaviour?
Would you like to learn more? Let me know in the comment below.