I remember my mom asking me a very wise question when I was about 10 years old. I had asked her for a snack before bedtime and she curiously responded: “What part of you is hungry? Are your eyes hungry? Are your hands hungry? Are your taste buds hungry? Are you thirsty? Or is your belly actually hungry?”
I remember having an Oprah, “Aha moment.” It struck me that the sensation I was experiencing before bedtime might not be true hunger. I took a moment to pause and replied: “My taste buds are hungry.” My mom asked if I still wanted a snack since I wasn’t “truly hungry” and I indeed did, so she cut me up a juicy orange.
Since that evening, I pay attention to my inner dialogue because I realize I snack when I am not truly hungry. Today, I ask myself: “Ok, am I actually hungry? Or am I just trying to satisfy some other part of me?” Sometimes, asking myself this question, I realize that only my eyes are hungry because something looks so good. Other times, I realize my hands are hungry because I am feeling bored. And sometimes I realize I am indeed hungry! Usually, I listen to my voice of reason and snack mindfully. Other times, I ignore my body and overindulge. Snack or no snack, I check back in with myself to evaluate how I feel and grow more conscious of how my body reacts.
Learning to listen to yourself is a skill that takes time. Learning to understand and obey what your body needs is a talent. I am constantly working on both. The simple intention to understand what is going on in your mind and body is foundational. Working this mindfulness muscle strengthens your connection to your feelings and thoughts. This way, when you are snacking, potential feelings of guilt dissipate because you are conscious of where that urge is coming from and how to appropriately satisfy the craving. You will eventually grow so strong that you will be fully present with each bite, chew and swallow—able to identify which part of your body you are actually feeding. Until then, treat yourself with love and kindness while you learn to pay attention to your mind, body and how you feed it.
Follow these simple 8 steps to master mindful snacking:
1. Pause and connect to your breath
2. Ask yourself: “What part of me is truly hungry?”
3. Make your snacking decision based on what your body truly desires
4. Check back in with yourself to understand how your decision made you feel
5. Make non-judgmental observations
7. Let go and carry on with the rest of your day
8. Send yourself love and kindness