Weighty Matters

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Connecting with Hunger

on February 6, 2017

I wish I had a signalling device in my head that would indicate when I am truly, physically hungry and when I just think that I am.  Honestly, hunger is my go-to reaction for a lot of situations, all connected to various emotions. As a compulsive overeater, I can eat my emotions a lot, which then causes more emotions – mostly negative – and that just snowballs into more eating.

So, it’s really important for me to be sure that I eat when I’m hungry and not when I’m experiencing an emotion that is triggering my brain to want to eat. In program we talk a lot about HALTS, an acronym for Hungry, Angry or Anxious, Lonely, Tired or Thirsty, Stressed.  I sometimes think of the L standing for lackadaisical because it’s the closest word to Bored that I can come up with and fit in the acronym.

HALTS is a helpful tool. When I think I’m hungry, before I eat I ask myself – am I physically hungry, or am I angry, lonely, tired or stressed instead?  This simple act, when I employ it, does a good job of connecting me with true hunger and helps me safeguard against eating something  compulsively. I can then reroute my behavior to a healthier choice.

Take this afternoon, for example. At 4:30, I was tasked with an urgent project at work. As I walked to my office to get started, I passed a friend as she unwrapped a tasty piece of chocolate from the office stash. Immediately, I thought I was hungry and absolutely needed a piece of candy, too. I stopped and ran through the HALTS checklist. I knew as soon as I got past the H that I wasn’t really hungry yet. I was stressed. With that confirmed in my head, I walked into my office, drank some water, and dug down into the project.

Like any exercise or technique, I get better at HALTS when I practice. These days, I practice a lot because I know that it works and will help me work on my goals.  Eating when I’m truly hungry and not compulsively grabbing for unplanned foods keeps m healthy and on the path for recovery.



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