Eating to Feed A Hungry Heart

Today is part 2 of a 2 part answer to a question I get asked a lot – which is ‘Jen, how do I lose weight when I’m so hungry all the time?’

The previous article introduced you to the key step that I learned on my journey of recovery – figure out what sort of hunger you are really having and work out if it's 'stomach' or 'eyeball' hunger you're experiencing. Today’s article will discuss the third type of hunger – which is 'heart' hunger.

Heart hunger happens when we are triggered to eat because we are experiencing something inside – a feeling, emotion, thought, or perhaps a memory. Perhaps you’ve spent all day eating healthy and then something happens – you have an argument with your partner, or your boss criticises you, or maybe the opposite – something positive happens like the arrival of some good news – and you find yourself eating more than you wanted – either openly, or secretively. Or maybe you’re not sure what happens, but something shifts inside you, and you just ‘find’ yourself eating more than you wanted to or needed to.

The first thing to say is that this is 'normal' and there is nothing wrong with you if you realise you are eating in response to heart hunger. As humans, food has never just been about fuel for our bodies. Ever since we were babies and our tears were comforted by our caregiver’s milk, a connection was established inside us, as food being a route to feeling loved, nurtured and connected. Food plays a really important role in regulating ALL our emotions – happy, sad and everything in between. It is also often a way of comforting from self-critical thoughts we might be having – “I’m no good’, I’m not as clever/attractive as xyz’ or even, 'I’ve failed my diet for today so I might as well just give up and really go for it'.

The challenge is that a lot of traditional weight loss advice tells us to overcome this by just distracting ourselves – and whilst this isn’t bad advice – for many of us it’s not so simple. It’s a bit like sticking a smiley face sticker over our petrol warning light in the car – the problem still remains.

There may also be more subtleties to heart hunger, that don’t make a lot of sense until we understand what I call our ‘Eating Story™’ – which is the inner story we have that gives meaning to our inner impulses to eat.

One of our members Mira talked about often finding herself eating for no particular reason at all. Mira discovered she had an Eating Story – ‘Eating means I don’t feel deprived’. Mira grew up in poverty, there was never enough food at home growing up. She had very vivid memories of her mum cooking up the food that was available, putting it in the middle of the table, and her and her siblings having to ‘jostle’ for their share. Awareness of this Eating Story gave meaning to her impulses to eat when she wasn’t hungry. The Eating Story had outgrown its purpose. The mindful eating strategy she learned in the Eating Blueprint programme helped her notice when she was eating to get this feeling of deprivation met. She created new ways of nurturing herself and feeling fulfilled, that didn’t always have to involve food.

So, like Mira, uncovering your Eating Story may be a key part of your journey to discovering your ‘heart hunger’ triggers.

In the meantime, I have an Action Step for you, if you’re inspired to try it out. I invite you to think about your experiences of heart hunger in your life this week. Notice when you’re eating because your heart is hungry, whether it’s due to a mood change or feeling, a thought, or triggering memory, and consider making a choice other than food. If you find yourself struggling to do this, please don’t worry, I’ve been in your shoes and I know you can do this when you have someone to take you by the hand and walk you through the steps.

I’d love to help you by inviting you to join me for my ‘Tackling Temptation/I Need More Willpower!’ Programme. 

This programme gives you the 6 Simple Steps to Tackle Temptation, showing you how to unlock your inner willpower using my unique 6 Step Process – so you can lose weight with much less effort than you have before. AND for a limited time I’m making it available to you for an incredibly affordable price. So get all the details by clicking here.


I hope you enjoyed this strategy and I that you’ll join me in the programme soon – I’d love to support you there.  Get all the details by clicking here.

Jen Bateman