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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Ustrzycki

8 tips for addressing emotional hunger

This is the full article that I abbreviated on today’s Instagram post.

Emotions are strong these days and a lot of the emotions lead to the cupboard. Unfortunately we aren’t going to find the solutions to these emotions squished in the middle of an Oreo (but go ahead and check if you want.)

Here are some tips when you’re feeling triggered by emotional hunger to guide you through the guilt and the gluttony in order to satisfy your emotions and appetite:

1. Address emotions or feelings that you’ve been feeling lately. More often than not, this feeling of hunger is actually a mask to what the root issue is. Ask yourself how you’re really feeling, or what’s causing stress. This could be anything from being at home more with a significant other or kids. This could be work-related stress or societal pressures. Even if you don’t think it’s actually impacting you, there are a lot of ‘things’ happening these days that absolutely cause our bodies to produce more cortisol (the stress hormone) in order to help us feel calm, organized and in routine.

2. Be more mindful when you are eating a snack or meal. Sit down and pay attention to your plate. Think of intuitive eating cues like acknowledging the smell and texture of each bite. Chew your food. Put down your phone and/or remove yourself from being in front of screens. When you actually pay attention to your meal, you’re (of course) much more mindful of it, understanding that you are eating, filling your body with nutrients, and acknowledging that you are satisfying your appetite.

3. Ask yourself if you’re actually just thirsty. Thinking you’re hungry can often be confused with dehydration. Grab a glass of water, drink it, and then wait at least 10 minutes to see if that helped; usually it does! If not, then you are actually hungry and you can use some of these other tips to help navigate your nutrition.

* My go-to bevvie when I think I’m hungry (but actually not, I’m just bored) is a 24oz bottle of cold water mixed with a tbsp of cacao powder, a splash of stevia and a small scoop of instant decaf coffee.

4. Minimize your options with your meals. It’s common to open up the fridge or cupboard and look at all your options. You tend to get overwhelmed and aren’t sure what you really want (or need) so you end up reaching for a handful of this and a bite of that. Too many options for and kind of being can be a bad thing, honestly! Unfortunately, more often than not, all those little snacks aren’t going to make you feel satisfied, emotionally or physically. Sometimes setting boundaries or actually just following a set meal plan during this time can really take away the emotional hunger and triggers that come with it.

* Doing a partial meal prep for the week is one of my helpful hands during this time. I won’t do any entire meal prep, but I’ll do some bulk ingredients like a pot of rice, a few chicken breasts, and cut up a lot of fruits and veggies so they’re at my convenience.

5. Do some pre-meal journaling. Dig into your thoughts and feelings before you eat. This could be paired with my tip #3 while drinking a big glass of water. Write down anything that may attach to this upcoming meal: what you’re craving, what you think you need to have during this meal, what some of your previous meals in the day were, what’s going to truly satisfy you, etc.

6. Before you prepare your meal, ask yourself what nutrients you need. All the nutrients: your macros like proteins, carbs and fats, but also your micros like your vitamins and minerals. Haven’t had veggies yet in your day? Dig in! This can help you choose better options.

7. Prioritize protein. This is always an important tip that I mention to anyone who’s just starting to be more mindful of their nutrition, but especially during this time: remember to prioritize protein and include a balanced quality source at every meal. Not sure how much? Think about a handful size. Animal-based protein sources, eggs, protein powder, etc.

8. Create a hunger map. This would be great to do ahead of time, like on the weekend or maybe during meal prep. List the times when you’re usually feeling hungry on a daily average and/or when you tend to have your daily meals. Even if you don’t actually feel hungry at that time, make sure you eat and that can remove any potential future triggers.

Some of these tips can apply to more people than others. This isn’t a definite black-and-white problem solving list, but they are definitely tips that I keep in my mind and guide with my Athletes as well.

Look for more great lists and tips like this on my blog!

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