How many times do we choose to eat comfort foods when we are not hungry?

Most of us eat by habit. We eat when we arise from sleep. We eat because it is noontime. We eat because we got home from work. We programmed ourselves to eat at specific times of our lives.

Nutritional experts tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, Eastern culture says that breakfast is not that important. The mid-day meal is much more important than breakfast.

Eating Habits When we awaken, our bodies are dehydrated. The hunger pang we might feel is related more to thirst than hunger. Most of us never think we might be thirsty. Yet, mild dehydration symptoms are never present – headache, fatigue, lightheadedness, and difficulty focusing or concentrating. When we have those symptoms, we then confuse them with hunger rather than thirst.

After going to the bathroom in the morning, our priority should be to refill the body with water, not food. Drink a glass of water and wait a while to determine if you are hungry. Classic hunger symptoms include an empty-stomach-feeling or even growling. Being hungry is not constant but increases over time.

Eating Stressors Many things cause us to want to eat more often. Sleep issues can affect both your ghrelin and leptin hormone levels. Waking up after having a poor night’s sleep can lead to fatigue and sometimes brain fog. Food cravings, especially sweets, drives our bodies to eat when we are not hungry.

In the mid-’60s, Lays potato chip theme was, “Betcha can’t eat just one!” Starches spike blood sugar levels. We are satiated for a short time. A steep decline in blood glucose levels starts a roller coaster cycle to eat more sweets and starchy foods, like potato chips. Complex carbohydrates flatten the cycle. Fiber also helps to contain the cravings.

Stress is another factor for eating. Comfort foods feel so good – the smell, the taste, the satisfaction – all combine to lure us into eating foods we should not be eating. Blood sugar cycles back and forth. Stress causes the body to create adrenaline and cortisol. Levels of serotonin in the brain decrease with stress. All these factors cause more eating, chemically induced eating.

Alcohol dehydrates. Our bodies crave water to counter the dehydration, and many of us increase our alcohol intake to compensate for the feeling of being thirsty due to excess alcohol. Alternating a drink of water between each glass of booze helps.

There are many factors to cause our minds and bodies to crave more food, more often. Eating quickly, prescription medicines, skipping meals, seeing pictures or videos of delicious meals (food porn), eating little fat and protein, and more can give us that urge to eat.

Options Filling your stomach with liquid, such as water or soup, can ward off the next hunger impulse. Salads do the same thing. Fiber reduces appetite. Exercise takes away our immediate need for food. There are many ways to interrupt the immediate desire for food. Google has many. Simply asking yourself if you need food or is something driving you to eat can stop many yearnings to munch, devour, or gobble something that can wait.


My mindset helps me to begin and maintain my monthly 72+hour fast without a single need for food. Without a couple of days of preparation, entering an extended fast is more difficult for me. Knowing that I am dehydrated when I awaken offsets or delays the demands of wanting something to eat. That glass of water tamps the desire for breakfast.

Habits are hard to break. I used to drink something, usually unsweetened iced tea, with my meals. I know that the extra liquid in my stomach dilutes my digestive acids and disrupts my body’s ability to get as many nutrients as possible per meal. I drink 30 minutes before or after eating, not with my meals anymore. Adding berries to a meal gives that extra moisture item that improves foods that feel and taste dry.

Becoming aware is a step closer to taking control.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


One Response

  1. Great thoughts Red,
    It’s said that a message on an egyption pyramid reads “25% of what we eat is for us. The rest is for the doctor.”
    I’ve found many of my weight loss clients (we work on identity, not food), as with clients with various other mental wellbeing issues, try to use physical fulfilment to gain emotional fulfilment. The short term electro-chemical blip from cookies never satisfies the psyche in the longer term. But there’s a lot of industries that grow rich as society grows fat. It can take time to relearn that food is there to physically fuel our body and brain, while our visions, dreams, aspirations, love, appreciation and acceptance can fuel the mind.

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