Thursday, 25 September 2014

Who's hungry for...a cookie?

I once had a friend who had a sign that said "Who's hungry?" on her fridge.  I didn't understand the sign at that time, but we are exploring this very question in my online mindful eating course.  Now I get it.

The question "Who's hungry in there?" is a way to assess the "8 hungers".  We recently did this as an exercise for my course.  Before eating something, we do a little check-in to see which of the 8 hungers is compelling us to eat.

I shall use the perennial T!m H0rt0n's* Smile Cookie to demonstrate.  Every September, I am delighted to discover that grody ol' Timmy's has launched its smile cookie fund-raising campaign.  The staff wear smiley cookie T-shirts, and there are big smile cookie decals on all the store windows.  Even though I don't usually go to Tim's I can't miss this very special week, since Tim's is omnipresent.

Here we go then - the 8 Hungers and How They Convinced Me To Buy a Smile Cookie

Eye hunger:  This actually doesn't even look very good.  It looks like all the food from Tim's - pre-fab.  I can almost see the signature bitter chemical aftertaste.  Plus they make these things smaller and smaller each year and that bugs me.  But the sticker on the take-out bag is quite attractive.

Nose hunger:  While Timmy's smells somewhat alluring when I bike by each day on my way to work, this item reeks of food-like substance

Ear hunger:  Nothing.  Different story if we were talking about a handful of M&M's that you crack between your back teeth, one by one, snapping the candy coating off in big chunks...

Mouth hunger:  As always, the mouth is "an insatiable cavern of desire" (Jan Chozen Bays' words, not mine, but so so true), and can't wait to enjoy that perfect combination of chewiness and subtle crispiness.  Better living through chemistry is right - I've baked a thousand cookies in my lifetime and I've never replicated those textures consistently.

Stomach hunger:  I just had lunch not so long ago.  I actually don't need any food.  My belly is quite content as is.

Cellular hunger: I could use some caffeine to get me through the afternoon.  Sugar is not required.  (Luckily cookies go so very well with coffee).

Heart hunger:  I feel happy when I see the smile cookie propaganda because it happens every September and I love September.  I also recollect that the first year I got hooked on these I was spending a lot of time at one of my favourite places.

Mind hunger:  I don't need this.  It's OK that I have this because this is my tradition.  I'm going to have one smile cookie each day this week and then they're gone until next year.  I will not have 2 smile cookies a day like I have in previous years.  What am I doing?  I'm taking a mindful eating course so buying a smile cookie is a good practice.  I'm kidding myself.  I don't care. I want a smile cookie!


What do you know?  Miracle of miracles!  After doing this exercise, I lost all interest in the smile cookie.  I finally realized that they USED to be delicious when they first came out over a decade ago.  Back in those glorious days they were enormous, and tasted like a human may have been involved in their manufacture.  Those days are gone, gone, gone, and I was just eating them out of a craving habit.

I tried this exercise before eating a small, beautiful supper with produce from my garden one night.  It wasn't so illuminating that time.  Basically I was hungry and it was a nice meal that also looked pretty and made me feel righteous.  The power of this exercise is doing it when you're eating something you know is somewhat iffy.

The most fascinating part of this exercise, aside from realizing that smile cookies actually are kinda gross (you were right, RT), is that so many of my fellow course participants noticed that their stomachs were full before their eyes, mouth, or heart was.  And, most of us discovered that it took much less food than we thought to make us full.  

Only cellular and stomach hunger need to be nourished by food.  The rest can be nourished in other ways (as in Die Augen Essen Mit).  If you want to feel content in life and eat an appropriate amount of food, learn to distinguish the 8 hungers and act accordingly.  Simple?  Nope, not at all.

*Names of implicated fast food chains have been changed to avoid litigation.

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