For years I struggled with incessant snacking and eating before bed. I thought I was always hungry or that I had a parasite or that maybe I needed to eat more frequently than the average person, but as it turns out I just didn’t know how to be with myself. I ate out of boredom, I ate out of nervousness, and most often I ate out of loneliness.

Food provided comfort and distraction and a way for me to not have to feel all of the feelings. I wasn’t aware of any of that, however, until I committed to writing in a daily food journal as part of a health coaching program I enrolled into; it was then that I was forced to face the reality of my situation. I saw all the cookies, brownies, and granola bars on the page and knew that they weren’t there because I was truly hungry.

I knew that things had to change.

In the health coaching program I learned that when we eat sweet things excessively it’s often because the element of sweetness is missing in our lives. For me, that was definitely true- I was in a career that no longer served me, in a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere, and in an emotional space of repression.

I was living a life that felt heavy, bitter and disconnected and sweet treats were my way to add the much needed sweetness back into my life. The thing is it didn’t work, or at least not for very long; the feelings would always come back knocking (sometimes pounding) at my door. I tried many things to change my habits-everything from eating healthy snacks instead to drinking water to see if I was really hungry to going for a walk to get my mind off of the junk I was craving- but nothing stuck. I’d always go back to the sweets, that is until I realized that I simply needed to deal with the core of the issue: I had to deal with what was going on inside.

Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-1.07.50-PM-1 Using Food to Fill a Void? Uncovering  What You're Really Hungry For Learning

What I’ve learned through the years I’ve spent working on my own health and with my clients is that in order to create healthy habits and reach our goals we must be willing to turn inward. We’ve got to face the shame we have around our bodies if we want to lose weight, we have to face our feelings of self-worth if we want to heal an illness, and we have to face our habit of running away from emotions if we want to change our bad habits.

What helped me kick my habit in this regard were two things:

1. Keeping a food journal where I tracked all meals and snacks (this made me so much more aware of what I was consuming and held me accountable to myself and my coach) and

2. Doing a quick mental check in before eating where I’d ask myself: How am I feeling right now and what do I need in this moment? These two practices helped me to get clarity on what I was actually hungry for (sleep, sex, friend time, laughter, a good cry, etc.) and discover what I needed to be truly fed. I use these tools with my clients with great success and urge you to try them today.


Article by: Janira Martinez