Mental hunger is your body cuing you to eat. Mental hunger is important. It is a very valid communication from your body as your body attempts to bring the desire to eat into your consciousness. I personally think that physical hunger is beside the point if you are in recovery from an eating disorder. Our brains cue us mentally first. So, by the time you get a physical hunger cue, you’ve already been ignoring mental cues of hunger for a while. If you are in recovery, you should not be ignoring hunger. Mental hunger is a form of hunger and it comes first, hence, physical hunger shouldn’t really have to happen.
I often get the statement/question “I don’t know if I am hungry or not.” The answer to that, is that if you are asking the question “am I hungry?” or “do I want more?” the answer is that you are hungry. If you were not hungry, the question wouldn’t come into your consciousness. Asking yourself if you are thinking about food is thinking about food.
I know that seems pretty obvious once I have spelled it out. It is. That’s the thing with eating disorders: they have a knack of making straightforward and obvious things seem complicated and confusing. Mental hunger isn’t difficult to work out, but your fear of “overeating” meddles with this beautifully simple system of communication between you and your body. You have to be on the look out for that, and not allow it to trip you up. Understand that when you have an eating disorder, you brain will always try and make the simplest food/eating decision seem complicated.
I always liken this to needing to go for a pee. If you are wondering whether or not you need to go for a pee, you simply get up and go for a pee. You get the pee done, and you get on with your day. You know that if the thought of going for a pee comes into your head, that it is only a matter of time before the physical need to go pee will follow. You allow it to be simple. You just go pee. The end.
Your food/hunger/eating relationship is supposed to be that simple too. Your body mentally cues you. You listen and eat. Then you get on with your life.
If you are thinking about food, you need to eat food.
If you are wondering if you are thinking about food, you are thinking about food and you need to eat food.
If you are wondering if you want to eat more food, you are thinking about food and you need to eat food.
It really can be that simple. If you allow it to be. That’s the wonderful thing about being in a body. We don’t have to micromanage and we don’t have to question. Your body asks. You oblige. No questioning. No arguing. No stress.
It really can be that simple.