“What are you really hungry for?” I’d like to just pose this question.
- Is it the sugar we’re addicted to? or the dopamine response that occurs when we eat sugar? – And where else in life can we turn up our happiness hormones and neurotransmitters?
- Is it really the bread we’re addicted to? or that feeling of FULLNESS that only grains and starches can provide? Where else can we get a feeling of TRUE fullness? Our emotional fullness?
- Are we addicted to sweets? or are we just not experiencing enough sweetness in life? And where can we get more of that?
- Are we addicted to chips and pretzels? Or are we maybe not experiencing enough savory in life? And how can we add more savor to our lives? Perhaps by serving someone? Or digging in deep on a creative project?
The sensations we get from food are very watered down and less enjoyable sensations compared to the sensations of joy, human connection, playfulness, exhilaration or passion that we can get from being completely present and actively engaged in life. These “real” experiences offer a much deeper level of satisfaction and stimulation, and they don’t go away from us as soon as we’re done having the experience!
You know how we get “so much happiness” from a pint of Ben ‘n Jerry’s but that happiness goes away about halfway through the pint. At that point, we’re all out of sugar joy. The chemical response has already peaked and is gone now and we’re sad that it’s gone, so we KEEP EATING, hoping that joy will come back. But it doesn’t. And then we finish the pint and feel like complete crap. All the joy is gone and now we have gastrointestinal distress to boot.
I’ve been reminding myself that the first few bites taste better than the last few bites. Don’t they always?
I’ve also been consciously “filling myself up” with the real sweetness in life, the real savory moments of life. The emotionally filling, fully present moments of life that make us often forget about food. When I’m emotionally full to the brim and living a mindful life, I almost never emotionally eat. Bingeing always happens when I’m NOT fully present. Is it the same for you? Sometimes it can be painful (physically or emotionally) to be fully present.
Lately I’m choosing to sit through the emotional pain for a moment (which is sometimes all it takes to learn what I need to learn from the emotion and then move on) rather than stuff that emotion down with food and then carry it around with me for months, which causes even more heaviness to show up in my life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you experienced this before?