If you’re “hungry” for licorice, you’re not hungry…

Two weeks ago, I was in a meeting that started at 6pm and at about 8pm we took a short break.  As happens, several of us ended up around the snack table, which served up chips, candy and nuts. My colleague, Duke, surveyed the spread and wondered out loud “what should I eat?” I looked at him and asked “are you hungry?” to which he replied “no, I probably don’t need to eat anything.”

A minute later he was happily snacking on a Red Vine. I chuckled and asked him what happened. He said “I’m hungry for licorice.”

Ever found yourself standing around a snack table with goodies like chips, candy & nuts? Do you consider whether you're hungry, or do you eat out of habit?
Windell H. Oskay, Flickr

Here’s the thing, if you’re hungry for licorice (chocolate, Cheetos, fill in your fave) and nothing else, then you’re not really hungry. Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School says, if you’re hungry for a chicken breast, then you know you’re hungry!

Up until a couple of years ago, I ate a piece of dark chocolate almost every evening. I never felt truly content with dinner until I’d had my chocolate. That was the reasoning of my toddler brain. And at the time I believed it. The hour between dinner and chocolate I felt unsatisfied until I fulfilled that desire.

Is any of this familiar?

I’m not shaming Duke for his decision to eat licorice (I asked his permission to tell the story) any more than I would shame you or myself. For those of you who struggle to lose weight, it’s about identifying the behavior and the underlying cause of why you’re not reaching your ideal weight.

Ever notice that it’s easy to justify small decisions that lead down the path of failure:

  • “It’s only one piece of licorice” (in reality it adds up to much more)
  • “I deserve it” (I think you deserve better – you’re worth more than a Red Vine!)
  • “I don’t want to deprive myself” (yet you’re depriving yourself of reaching your ideal weight)
  • “I’ll work it off tomorrow” (that’s not the point of exercise, nor how it works)
  • “Everyone else is having it” (as every parent asks a teenager,” if everyone jumped off a bridge…”)

You’re not wrong for eating licorice, chocolate or any other number of sugary, salty, yummy snack foods. That completely misses the point.

When you’re not physically hungry but still craving food, the deeper question to ask is “What am I hungry for?”

Look for my next blog post to help answer that question for you.

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