When a distressing thought or emotion pops up, food cravings can beckon us to provide a temporary distraction from what feels stressful. Maybe it’s easier to focus on an over-full stomach than on an upsetting emotion such as grief, frustration, or loneliness, for example.
If you are living to eat rather than eating to live, it’s time to ask yourself what you are really hungry for in your life.
Are you craving:
- a better connection with your significant other?
- a more rewarding job?
- a relationship?
- more fun in your life?
- more time for yourself?
- a break from regularly caring for others?
- a mental health day, week or month?
- self and body acceptance?
- more work/life balance?
- less alone time and more time with others?
In my 15+ years as a specialist in eating psychology working with men and women on their relationship with food, I have found that there is usually a more profound reason that goes beyond just liking a taste of a certain food if it becomes our demise health-wise. If food is the highlight of the day or coveted ‘me’ time and the thought of not having that (often private) eating episode instills a sense of punitive deprivation, you may be experiencing Spiritual Hunger.
Spiritual Hunger is feeling deprived of a sense of purpose, passion, pleasure, or joy in one’s life. Maybe life feels like a grind, or there is a struggle to redefine a different life purpose after we’ve sent the kids to college or upon retirement after a long and successful career. Maybe our days are spent giving to others, and by the end of the day, there is nothing left to give to ourselves. So, we eat to self-soothe, disconnect and numb out from our thoughts and emotions concerning our life situations. Regardless of the reason, Spiritual Hunger is often a sign that something deeper is calling for your attention.
The question to ask yourself is: What is eating at you?
Take the time to sit with this question and see what comes up as the answer will help guide your strategy for chasing meaning in your life rather than relying on the false fix that food provides. With that said, the plan for managing Spiritual Hunger will depend on the person and what is contributing to the eating pattern as well as how long the pattern has been in place. The first step is building your awareness around the HOW and WHY of any eating patterns that may be harming your health. Only through gentle self-awareness can we begin to better understand why we keep making the impulsive food choice that conflicts with our health-related goals.
To help with this process, Hilton Head Health has a new Relationship with Food Counseling Package that involves a thorough eating pattern assessment and intake session with an eating psychology specialist, along with two additional sessions that allows for this inward exploration process, and for creating a customized strategy for better managing relationship with food at home. We are also offering Relationship with Food Week Intensives that are designed to supplement our other wellness programs and to assist those who identify with emotional, compulsive or binge eating, in which spiritual hunger is often a partial contributor. These specialized services are designed to help our guests find peace with food - and within themselves. If you would like more information about either of these services or if you have any questions related to your relationship with food, please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.