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What Am I Hungry For? An Exercise in Body Attunement to Avoid Overeating


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If someone has had a history of dieting, or any disordered eating, there is often a process of learning to reconnect and listen to one's own body signals regarding hunger and satiation. Part of this is learning how to decipher what one is truly hungry for. As you become more adept at identifying your own body's true physiological hunger, attempting to figure out what you are hungry for in that moment may also take some work. This exercise is a helpful one as you work on tuning into your own body's messages about what will satisfy you.

To decide what you want to eat, you must first be hungry. If you aren't, then it will be your mind that is making decisions, not your body. And since it's your body that you are feeding, it's important to listen to the cues it gives you. Ask yourself if your stomach is hungry. Perhaps you are really thirsty, not hungry. People often mistake thirst for hunger. Try to determine this distinction.

Start by taking a few moments to tune into yourself.

  • See if any images, thoughts, or yearnings for a particular food come to mind, i. e. , a cup of soup, a slice of pizza, some scrambled eggs, etc.

  • Notice if you can taste or smell a particular food.

    If the answer to either of these questions is yes, that is the food your body is wanting at the moment.

    If you still don't know what you want to eat, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Taste: Do I want something salty, sour, spicy, sweet, or bland?

  • Temperature: Do I want something hot, cold, or at room temperature?

  • Texture: Do I want something hard and crunchy or smooth and creamy in texture?

    From all the data and feedback your body has given you, imagine the food that would best meet your hunger in this moment. Picture eating that food and “trying it on" in your imagination to see if it is, indeed, what you want to eat. Hopefully you have been able to determine what you are hungry for and what will satisfy you. Continue to work with your hunger in this way and over time you will be able to listen to and hear the cues from your body with greater ease.

    Lora Sasiela, LCSW, BCD is a psychotherapist with private practices in Manhattan and Rumson, NJ. She helps her clients become more comfortable in their relationships with food and their bodies through a variety of practical and evidence-based techniques. For more information, visit her website at

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