Are you hungry? 

Did you know there are 5 different types of hunger??

Before you reach for a little something just because you think you are hungry, let’s delve into the multifaceted nature of hunger in all it’s many forms.

In today’s episode, we’ll explore the intricacies of hunger, the subconscious drives behind our cravings, and how hunger has deeply woven itself into our culture and consciousness.

Recognizing these different hungers, understanding their motivations, and learning how to manage them are vital steps toward reclaiming control over our eating habits and achieving our wellness goals.

So, whether you’re hungering for nourishment or fulfillment, grab your empty plate, and come on in!

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Rita Black: I am hungry. Hunger can take on many forms, not just the physical sensation of an empty stomach. As St. Jerome famously remarked, when the stomach is full, it is easy to talk a fasting. From the plaintiff plea of plessa, may I have some more? From Oliver Twist. Hunger? And our response to it have been deeply ingrained in our culture and consciousness. So join me for episode 159 of the Thin Thinking Podcast, where we explore the five main types of hunger and how our subconscious mind impacts our interpretation of hunger and what is enough. Being able to recognize our different hungers, what drives them and how to manage them, is a very important step in reclaiming control over our eating habits and achieving our wellness goals. So grab your empty plate and come on in.

Rita Black: Did you know that our struggle with weight doesn't start with the food on your plate or get fixed in the gym? 80% of our weight struggle is mental. That's right. The key to unlocking long-term weight release and management begins in your mind. Hi there, I'm Rita Black. I'm a clinical hypnotherapist weight loss expert, bestselling author, and the creator of the Shift Weight Mastery Process. And not only have I helped thousands of people over the past 20 years achieve long-term weight mastery. I am also a former weight struggler, carb addict and binge eater. And after two decades of failed diets and fad weight loss programs, I lost 40 pounds with the help of hypnosis. Not only did I release all that weight, I have kept it off for 25 years. Enter the Thin Thinking Podcast where you too will learn how to remove the mental roadblocks that keep you struggling. I'll give you the thin thinking tools, skills, and insights to help you develop the mindset you need, not only to achieve your ideal weight, but to stay there long-term and live your best life.

Rita Black: Well, hello everyone. Come on in. Ooh, there is a lot going on in my house this week. My husband as we speak, almost as this episode is dropping, I should say, is going under the knife. He is having knee replacement surgery. So that's a big deal. I hope that the recovery is swift and easy. It kind of crept up on me. I knew he was gonna have this surgery. And then our healthcare plan, just kind of like there's an available surgery for you, and then there we were, and he is having surgery. So this week also, my children are coming home from college for spring break. So I have just going on in my house, an invalid, invalid husband and two children who are probably gonna be very much, mom, I'm hungry. Mom, I'm hungry. So what an appropriate time for an episode about hunger.

Rita Black: What really provoked me though to talk about hunger and to create this conversation with you today was I was having a session with a client who had been feeling hungry, struggling with feelings of hunger, even though she feeds herself really well, she eats really healthy food, she gets enough protein. So we were being scientists and looking at all the different types of hunger it could be. And after a while, we pinpointed it as emotional hunger. And then we took a look underneath that emotional hunger, looked under the lid, so to speak, and got to the root, which really wasn't about hunger at all, but more about habit and avoidance behavior around feeling a certain void in her life.

Rita Black: And so, and I'm gonna talk about this as I walk through the hungers, this avoidance or emotional eating cycle, but I thought it would be great to speak with you about the five main hungers. So if you are dealing with hunger driven eating that is keeping you struggling, you can start to pinpoint what hunger it is or what hungers it may be. All the different types of signals you get over the course of the day that says, Hey, let's eat, and how to manage those signals. And before I do this though, before we dive in, please, please subscribe to this podcast and also while you're at it, share a link with a friend. This is such a great gesture, sharing and spreading the word of them thinking with others. So thank you for doing that ahead of time. And now let's get on with the show.

Rita Black: So I have been working with people for 22 years in this area of weight management. And obviously hunger has come up thousands of times in conversations and also over the many decades of managing and then maintaining my own weight. I have found that there are really about five different types of hunger. And as you probably guessed, many of these are not true hunger, but other types of subconscious cues or desires that once you understand them, you can manage them and most importantly, stop eating over them. So we are gonna look at the five different types of hunger. The first one being physical hunger, the second one being emotional hunger, third, environmental or hedonic hunger. The fourth one is mindless habit eating hunger. And the fifth one is fake hunger, blood sugar crashing, leptin resistance.

Rita Black: So before we dive in, I wanna say that many of these hungers will overlap with each other. So they don't always stand alone in their own silo, but for our purposes, I do think being able to distinguish between these five will help you differentiate when you really need to eat or when you may need to take care of something else. Take care of yourself in ways other than food.

Rita Black: Alright, so let's dive in, shall we? Let's sit down at the table and look at physical hunger. And obviously this is the most basic form of hunger, and this would be true hunger, where your body needs fuel for energy. And it's often accompanied by physical sensations such as stomach, rowling and lightheadedness. And when we feel hungry, genuinely hungry, it can evoke feelings of fear fear and hunger in general. That thinking, I am hungry, can, it's a very primitive and visceral feeling, isn't it? Hunger triggers our survival response and can also trigger us emotionally.

Rita Black: Now, in reality, truly speaking, because I mean, I've, we've all been there. We're like, I'm hungry, I've gotta eat now. I'm gonna faint, or I'm gonna fall down, or I'm gonna bite somebody's head off, or I'm gonna chew my arm off. We've all been there. But in reality, most people can go without food for about three weeks, provided they have adequate water intake and electrolytes. However, symptoms of hunger, weakness, and fatigue typically become un noticeable within a day or two of fasting. Our caveman relatives would go without food for long spans of time because they actually had to go find it, kill it, get it, harvest it. And they didn't have the many food choices that we have when we step outside our doors or drive our car down the road or have DoorDash. So their bodies adapted and their psychology adapted to feeling hungry.

Rita Black: They were okay with it. It was just part of their life. They didn't have the option to eat at every corner. Now, I have many students and clients who use intermittent fasting as a tool to push off eating, and I myself do this because it actually helps regulate blood sugar and hormones and does create a sort of mental, not an option to eat zone that can be very useful. But fasting does take time for the body to adapt to, and you have to be mentally ready as well. So this isn't an episode on fasting, but I wanted just to cover that for you. Faster, many of you have adapted to your fasting cycles or your fasting windows. So your bodies have adapted to it. But other than fasting, I see many clients and students just plain get too hungry during their day.

Rita Black: And I'd like to introduce the concept of the hunger scale to you. And I use this in the Shift Weight Mastery process as a tool to start tuning people in to their bodies and to learn its hunger and fullness cues. Because many of us don't tune in. We're just ahead floating above our body, and we listen to our heads cues to eat, but often they are not, those cues are not connected to our actual body. So the hunger scale is this, on a scale of zero to 10, zero is starving, very hungry and 10 is thanksgiving stuffed full. And somewhere around a five or a six is just enough, like you've eaten just enough to get up and go for a walk after dinner, which a lot of us should do because it actually drives the sugar in our bloodstream into our muscles. And we avoid those big insulin surges, which is really healthy for us.

Rita Black: So five or or six is just right, you could get up and go for a walk. Seven and eight is you're full. But you're not laying on the couch yet, but you, you know, you're like, oh, I've eaten enough. Three to four on the scale of hunger is lighter that you could still eat a few more bites before you were full. Some people choose to finish eating just before they're full. In many cultures like Japan, this is a custom and it is associated with a longer life. One to two is, you know, just if you were gauging one to two, this would be somewhere where you're not quite hungry. Like if you're gauging, am I hungry, this would be probably the best time to start eating. Is that a one or a two where you aren't starving and the blood sugar, you know, you're, you're tanked, like you're running on empty.

Rita Black: Often when we allow ourselves to get too empty, then that's when we overeat, because what happens is we've allowed our blood sugar to get so low. And leptin the satiety hormone, which we're gonna talk about a little later is also tanks when your blood sugar goes down. And when you start eating, it takes a very long time for the leptin levels to elevate. Haven't you noticed when you get really hungry and then you're just eating and you're eating and you still feel like you could still eat and more eat and, and then all of a sudden you're super full and are like, wow, I ate too much. That's often because it took leptin that long to say, get this, you know, the signal going like, Hey, you know, stop. So that's why you wanna avoid getting too empty. And I have so many clients who just don't pay attention to their bodies or their hunger signals until it's too late.

Rita Black: We get to the late afternoon, we come home at night and we are famished, and then we start eating. But what we're putting in our face isn't necessarily healthy food. It's the fast food that crackers or tortilla chips or things that are fast, easy, carby. They're just empty calories that are going in. And and then again, we can eat, plow through a lot of those kinds of foods before we get to that satiated feeling. So you know, start tuning in and asking yourself during your day, where is my hunger right now? And just start using this scale. Play around with this. So scale will help you decide if you're feeling true hunger or if some of the other hungers that I'm about to talk about are what you are feeling. It's just a really good way to just make a gauge and tune in to that fabulous body of yours.

Rita Black: And it can also help you gradually tune into how much you really need and even gradually help you develop the ability to enjoy and feel satisfied with smaller portions without feeling deprived. So here are the steps to use the hunger numbers to slow down eating, to tune in, and then stop when you've had enough. So number one, when you're sitting down to your eating, and I'd suggest you sit down instead of standing up, because often, again, it takes a time. If we're standing and scarfing something down, we're not really registering it or tuning into our body. So sit down, take a breath, and get present to your food. Look at it, smell it. Really look at the amount of food you're about to eat. Look at the quality, smell the aroma, you know, be mindful. And then touch your stomach and say, what number am I at?

Rita Black: And again, like I said, hopefully you're not at a zero, and hopefully you're not at a six already. But you're somewhere, you know, 1, 2, 3, and, and you begin eating and you eat slowly. And as you go along, as you take it, very few bites, just play with this, you know, don't have to do this forever. But this is just a really great way to acclimate yourself to your appetite and to what you truly need. Say, what number am I at right now? And start to just play with that. And like, a child needs time to get ready to go to bed at night. You know, you can't just go time for bed, you know, they're like me, I don't wanna go, you know, okay, time to stop eating. I don't wanna stop eating, right? That's kind of our, we are, we need a warning.

Rita Black: So as we get to three or four, we have a little conversation with ourself, a nice conversation, not a mean conversation. It's just not like you're gonna have to stop eating, but it's just like, alright, and a few bites. We're gonna slow down and that's gonna be enough and we can stop. And so you'll take a few more bites, slow it down, take a few more bites. Hmm, where am I at now? 4, 5, 6. And as you get to that five or six, just practice stopping. Now, you may have eaten all the food on your plate. I'm not suggesting that you have to leave food on your plate if you're from the Clean Your Plate Club, but at least you're gonna start to tune in to how much food you actually really need. We can do a whole episode on just portions and how much do we need.

Rita Black: But, but for the moment, I just want you to kind of play around with those numbers, especially those numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, and five. Because I think the more you get used to those numbers the more apt you are to recognize, oh, okay, you know what? I don't need it very much more. And it becomes easier to stop. But I will tell you, if you start at a zero, it's gonna be hard to recognize those numbers. So get into practice of, you know, and, and those of you who do fast, when you break your fast, just make sure you're breaking your fast slowly and mindfully, and eating healthy foods, giving yourself some protein, giving yourself some fiber, giving yourself some food before you dip into the more refined foods. I'm sure you know this if you have been fasting, but I think it's just really, really helpful because I have had many clients who were fasts who do have challenges with eating way too much once they break their fast.

Rita Black: So just take that and think about that for a bit, the hunger numbers. And this is a way that you can start to gain a trust between yourself. This is a way you can start to gain trust with yourself that you can and are able to feed yourself just enough. But be patient with this, you know, and practice. Let yourself know that you can always eat more if you need to later. So this is something else I just wanted to discuss to you. So to prepare for this, I would say talk to yourself beforehand. You know, if you're gonna start working on your appetite and eating just enough when eating, when you're hungry, stopping when you've had just enough, start talking to yourself beforehand, even before you're getting to that three or four. You know, I know I said, you know, to prepare yourself, but even before you sit down to eat, have a little conversation with yourself and say, Hey, you know what?

Rita Black: We're gonna practice eating mindfully and stopping when we've had just enough. And I want you to know, you know, if I was talking to myself, I would say, Hey, you know what, Rita? We're gonna try this on. And I absolutely did this during my own shift when I was cutting back on portions and trying to figure out what I really, really truly needed. And I was like, we're just gonna play with this. This, let's play here. We're gonna play with these numbers. We're gonna play with tuning in, and, you know, we're, we're going to, they eat a little less this meal. And when and if you need more food after this meal, I promise I will feed you again. So helping yourself by not, because we're so used as dieters, that we starve ourselves and deprive ourselves.

Rita Black: And I think it kind of creates a little bit of A-P-T-S-D syndrome of self-abuse. So we've talked about this in other podcast episodes, but we don't wanna trip wire that we wanna be really kind with ourselves and say, Hey, you know, I will trust you if you're hungry again, we can eat again, but let's just play with this. Let's try it out. And let's play with really figuring out our hunger and stopping when we've had enough. Okay, enough of physical hunger.

Rita Black: Let's move on to the big boy emotional hunger. Now, emotional hunger is driven by feelings rather than physical need. It is often triggered by emotions like stress, boredom, sadness, or loneliness. And people may turn to food as a way to cope with these emotions, as we all know. And for many of us who have struggled with our weight over the years, this type of hunger runs really deep. We feel a feeling. And the cue to eat something to soothe ourselves comes on really strong and powerful.

Rita Black: And managing this type of hunger is more about setting yourself up for success with proper self-care techniques, and then being able to willingly with the feelings. Now, I'm not leaving you high and dry on this because this is a, this is a in-depth subject, right? So I have two entire podcast episodes dedicated to managing emotional hunger. I believe those episodes are episodes 126 and 127, emotional eating part one and part two. So I will put those links in the podcast show notes so you can click on there and learn more about managing emotional eating. 'cause This is a pretty complex subject, but there's something that I do wanna walk you through that you may not be aware of. And that is a payoff for the emotional eating cycle, or the emotional eating binging cycle. Here is this little subconscious dance that a lot of us get into that's really tricky and it's a big payoff but a lot of us don't know this is going on.

Rita Black: I pointed this out to the very same client I was talking about earlier in this episode, and she realized that she was falling into this cycle. So here's the cycle. We feel an emotion, right? Or we feel bad, we feel stressed, we feel guilty, we feel angry, we feel resentful. We feel sad. We don't like feeling emotions, right? We don't like feeling anything rather than the status quo. We get a little off kilter, our brain gets a little overwhelmed, we freak, freak out. And so in that moment when we're like, ah, I don't wanna be feeling this feeling, we feel, you know, and feeling out of control because we don't like to sit with this feeling. We instead eat something, right? We eat something. And usually it's not broccoli, but it's something carby, refined, soothing sweet if we're a sweet person, crunchy, salty.

Rita Black: If we're a country, country, salty, crunchy, salty person and you know, our brain gets flooded with dopamine. We feel good, we feel soothed for a while, it seems to be doing the trick. But then often we keep eating and then we, you know, get into a dopa genic cycle of just eating until we're done with the bag or done with the carton of ice cream, or done with whatever. We've eaten a lot. And now we feel bad for being out of control and for doing that. And we make this decision, you know, that, okay, ugh, I ate too much. This was horrible. I'm just gonna pull things together tomorrow. I'm gonna be good tomorrow. Right? We, we know about that being good tomorrow part, but this is where it gets interesting is we make this, you know, promise to ourselves to be good tomorrow.

Rita Black: And this is how clever the system is. It puts you back in control because we are making a promise to be good. So we're pulling it together. We're pulling ourselves outta the chaos. You know, we don't know how to manage our feelings, but this dance with food and the promise of controlled eating and controlling the chaos can make us feel in control. And guess what? Even more, we aren't thinking about that initial thing that made us feel bad. We're thinking about our weight, we're thinking about feeling full, we're thinking about pulling ourselves out of that binge and into order. And that creates a sense of relief and a sense of excitement about pulling things together. Now, this doesn't happen to everyone, so this might not be you, but you have to understand that this is a dynamic that can happen and it's incredibly helpful to pinpoint it, to start beginning to stop the cycle before it picks up steam.

Rita Black: I know for me, recognizing just this particular cycle and the payoff it had for me began my journey of overcoming binge eating and really beginning the journey of being willing to fill my feelings and emotions. Alright, now, so go check out episode 1 26 and 1 27. But don't do that now.

Rita Black: Stay here because we're now gonna tap into environmental hunger. Now, this type of hunger is influenced by external factors such as the sight or smell of food social situations, cultural influences. For example, seeing food advertisements or being in a restaurant and smelling all the smells or looking at the menu can trigger a desire to eat even when you're not physically hungry. This, it's or this might also be called hedonic hunger, and that's a little more defined characterized as the desire to eat for pleasure rather than dissatisfied physiological hunger.

Rita Black: And it's often driven by the enjoyment of certain foods, the anticipation of eating, or the social aspects of dining, rather than actually energy needs. Haven't you done that? I mean, I know I certainly have, you know, we start talking about going out to eat. Now I'm not particularly hungry, but if everybody's like going, I totally remember going out for Chinese food or for Thai food or some for pizza, and, you know, because everybody else was going, I went along too, and I definitely ate my fair share of food even though I wasn't really hungry. This type of hunger often leads to impulsive decision making to eat something, even though we know it might not be the best choice for our health and our weight. You know, that is exactly why they put all those candy bars and such. You know, at the checkout counter, those impulsive buys, Hmm, chocolate, you know, they know you're stressed out and you've been shopping around, you're not necessarily hungry, but eating that chocolate bar in the car sure is gonna, you know, be yummy and pleasurable.

Rita Black: That's why they have, I remember when Cinnabon was big, you know, they would just waft the sense of Cinnabon through the airports or through the malls. So how do we manage this type of hunger, in the Shift Weight Mastery Process? We talk a lot about the environmental skills, the environment, mental skills are absolutely key to long-term permanent weight man mastery. Because part of weight mastery is really, if you think about it, managing the environments that you are in, whether you're living in them or in visiting them or, or working in them, and setting your environments up for success to the degree you can. Now, if we are always putting ourselves in situations where we have to exert willpower in order not to give in to our hedonic hunger, chances are we are not going to achieve weight mastery, right? If we are gonna give in, you know, our willpower is a limited resource, and this can really sabotage our efforts, relying upon our willpower because our willpower is you know, it's really only as if, if you've studied with me or done any sort of masterclass with me, you know, it's like really only about 12% of our mind.

Rita Black: It's not very much, right? So that's gonna cave way to any desires. And he hedonic desires that your dopamine center is like, I want that, I want that, I want that. So we need to learn to use the brain a little differently. So there are a couple of other ways, mental ways, ways to use your brain to manage your environmental hunger. One is rule control. So instead of willpower, you can exert rule control. And rule control is very powerful. It's, it's a couple of steps above willpower. Rule control is really creating loving boundaries around certain foods or situations where we eat a certain kind of trigger food. But creating the boundary or creating a rule around it helps our mind make an overall condition on a subconscious level, like not an option or only in this particular circumstance, which makes it easier to stay within the parameters that we decided upon ahead of time, right?

Rita Black: So if I have a rule, and it's my rule, nobody gave me the rule, it's important that it's our rule. So if I told you you can only eat pasta at your mom's house, it would probably make you wanna eat pasta everywhere except your mom's house, right? Because I'm telling you to do it. But if you create the rule within you, if it's aligned with you, if it's aligned with your values, if it's aligned with, oh, okay, you know, it's, I'm gonna just eat pasta at my mom's house 'cause my mom makes the best pasta, I really enjoy it. I can slow down and savor it, but I do not need pasta that often. And no pasta for me. Not in Italian restaurants, not at home, but just at my mom's house. That would be a rule control. For instance, if ice cream is a trigger food for you, if it's a challenge, like if you find yourself buying a pint saying we're only gonna have a little serving, and then you end up eating a whole pint.

Rita Black: Often you might create a rule control of just eating an ice cream cone once a month outside of your house, but never bringing ice cream inside your house. So that would be rule control. You might have a rule that when you're at a restaurant, you always order a healthy meal protein and vegetables and a salad, but you allow yourself to order a side dish of something a little more decadent like macaroni and cheese. And your rule is that you only eat three bites and you share the rest with everybody else, right? So that would be a rule that you would create. And this is the way that you can start to create the best of both worlds for yourself, really starting to look at your behaviors and the payoffs and look at situations that maybe once would've caused you to always overeat.

Rita Black: Feel bad to say, how can I manage this in a way? What rule can I create around this that's allowing this situation to work for me instead of against me? The three bite rule, by the way, is something many of you might know but we talk about it a lot in the shift is, you know, after three bites of any sort of decadent food, your mouth experience goes down from 90% all the way down to 20%. So often if you really savor those three bites, it is enough, especially if you're eating something healthy alongside it and you aren't hungry. If you're eating it on an empty stomach, it might be hard to stop at three bites. But if you've fed yourself and nourished yourself with stabilizing, nourishing food and then have those three bites of macaroni and cheese, you probably will feel, ah, that's enough.

Rita Black: So now the other control is stimulus control, and it is very powerful. Studies show us that stimulus control is over 60% responsible for long-term success. This is really a great habit to create. So if it just bottom line, if it isn't in your environment, you don't have to be owned by it or get into a debate with it. And this isn't about being, you know, I think a lot of people are like, I'm such a bad person, I can't even keep this food in my house. And I just question that line of thinking. 'cause One, does it make you feel good about yourself and powerful about yourself? But let's, let's break this down and think about it a little more. Like, you know, they are sitting in boardrooms figuring out how to get you addicted to certain foods with certain amounts of salt, sugar, and fat, right?

Rita Black: And we are bringing these, these very addictive foods into our environment. And most of us, if we eat these foods, it's gonna connect with our brain. And our brain is gonna get trip wired and start saying, I want more, I want more. I want more. Now, this is not a weakness on your part, per se, because this is just, they have figured out how the booby traps, right? And they're just like, if we can just get them to bring the food in the house, they're gonna start eating it, you know? And we're gonna say, only 12 crackers are a hundred calories, right? But you're gonna end up eating the entire box, not because you're weak, but because these foods are wired to have you eat them all. So why would you bring them? You know, I think sometimes people bring them into the environment to prove how strong they are.

Rita Black: Like, I am strong, I can do without it. Or we hoodwink ourselves and think, well, I can just have one even though every single time we overeat them. So getting real, and I'm just being loving on you, right? Like, don't take this the wrong way, but let's be real. Like, I've just seen so many people go sideways just with a couple, you know, innocently thinking, well, you know, I, I never could in my life before have goldfish in my house, but now since I've lost some weight, I can bring it back in That the addiction in the brain to the goldfish is going to always be kind of the same. If it's a trigger food, it's a trigger food. So keep your trigger foods out of the house. Please do me a favor, I love you. Please don't bring your trigger foods into the house because they're gonna own you.

Rita Black: And you want to own your environment and fill it with foods that you can eat and feel good about and that feel good in your body and make your body feel good. So practice stimulus control because you don't wanna get into debates with food, right? You know what happens? You eat some popcorn, you know, if popcorn's a trigger food for you, or it's sitting in the cupboard, you're sitting at the television, you're like, I'm not gonna eat the popcorn. I'm not gonna eat the popcorn. Please come and eat me. I'm sitting in your cupboard. I'm waiting for you to come and eat me. No, not gonna eat you. Or the cookies on the counter as you pass them every time to go to the bathroom. Nope, not gonna eat it. That takes so much mental energy. Wouldn't it be just nice not have them there and just not have to think about it?

Rita Black: Yes. Thank you. So here's some other ways to just practice. The environmental controls is, you know, go to healthier restaurants. Go, don't go to the restaurants that only offer a few healthy choices. Go to restaurants that cater to healthy people, that's gonna just make your life so much easier. Shop with a shopping list. So you aren't at the mercy of the advertising industry that has placed foods in your eyeline. They've spent millions of dollars figuring out where your eyes are gonna go, what color the food packaging should be to get you to pick up that pretty package. Put it in your cart saying, I'll just have one, and then take it home and then eat the whole thing. Go in with a list. Be intentional about your shopping. Love yourself. Just take a breath and walk by those foods that are calling your name and think about all those horrible people sitting in the boardroom wanting your money and not caring about your health.

Rita Black: And just say, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, you are not gonna get me this time. I'm walking by you and I am keeping my freedom and my peace of mind and my health. Thank you very much. I'm not gonna give you any more of my money. Okay? So so that is environmental hedonic hunger. Hopefully you picked up some really good little tips there. I'm telling you in start practicing that stimulus control, it will change your life. Okay?

Rita Black: Mindless habit hunger, mindless eating occurs when you're not fully aware of what you're eating. This can happen while watching TV working or engaging in other activities leading to overeating without realizing it. So, you know, in the old days, huh, back when I was young people used to pretty much just eat three meals. There were no snacks than in the sixties and seventies. And I kind of remember when this started. This is, you know, how old I am. I remember with the you know, the space space launch and all the spaceman food, like the food sticks. And then we were joking about this the other night. We went away for the weekend with our friends on a biking trip, and we were talking about all these foods that we, these snacky foods that we ate. I remember breakfast bars, and then I'd come home and eat those food sticks and then, you know, but, but snacking was completely manufactured and created by the food industry. We, you know, ate breakfast waited, ate lunch, waited and pretty much ate dinner. So on this whole idea of snacking after dinner, snacking in between meals, this was, you know, this was born in the sixties and seventies and again, in a boardroom.

Rita Black: So when we practice that stimulus control, this can help with mindless snacking. And this is where we're overlapping here. I think stimulus control can help with a lot with mindless snacking, but we need to understand the drive to eat mindlessly usually comes not from the food itself as much as what's going on around it. In our subconscious mind, our brain associates the food with the activity and perceives its value. So the activity might be watch tv, eat popcorn, and the outcome is relax. So you're watching the tv, the dopamine center bugs you for the popcorn because the association with TV and popcorn is relaxing. So popcorn equals relaxing in front of the TV to your subconscious mind, even though you are just sitting there munching mindlessly on it, and then might feel bad afterwards. It has made that association, or if the activity is sitting and working at your computer and eating those chips helps you focus.

Rita Black: So the outcome is that you're able to focus because you ate the chips while sitting at your computer, and the brain bugs you, not realizing that the chips don't focus you, but they relieve the agitation of expecting a chip in front of the computer. We've all had that happen. We're sitting in front of the computer and their brain's like, I need a snack. I need a snack. I need a snack. Which really, you don't need the snack, but often what you need is a break because we can't sit our com at our computers all day long. Our brain gets overwhelmed and overstimulated, and it actually needs a break, but it doesn't know how to tell you that. But it will just say, chips, chips, and which is completely distracting. We have to get up and get the chips just to shut that part of the brain up in order to focus again, crazy.

Rita Black: But this is a vicious cycle, or it might bug you simply because it's in the habit of your eating at a particular time. That agitated feeling is caused by dopamine. That dopamine center will just start bugging you. It's 11 o'clock time to eat, 11 o'clock time to have your mid-morning snack time, to have your mid-morning snack time to have your mid-morning snack. And that dopamine, pursuing that mid-morning snack, actually gives you this feeling of agitation, which actually could end up feeling like hunger. And as you are very well aware with mindless or habit hunger, the fact is that often, even though we're very driven to eat that snack food, once we have the first couple of bites, it becomes mindless and we don't even experience all of that food we're putting into ourselves. So how do we begin to break free? Well, the first step would be to start to observe your mindless or habit snacking behavior and observe it not as bad or weak, but that your brain is trying to get you to an outcome.

Rita Black: It's going through a pattern that it wants fulfilled, and you can replace the eating with another behavior. Often, this is how habits are changed. The cue stays the same, sitting at the computer sitting in front of the tv the habit, the, the routine changes, but the outcome stays the same. So we have cue in front of the tv relax. Well, maybe we're just sitting and rubbing lotion on our legs and relaxing. Or maybe we're just, the cue is sitting in front of the tv. The routine is to take three nice, deep, easy breaths and just breathe and relax and soothe our body as we sit there watching tv and really allow ourselves to get into it. And the reward is deep relaxation or to have your partner or somebody sharing the couch with you to rub your feet. So there could be many different routines that you do in front of the television, including the routine of just relaxing to get the outcome of relaxation.

Rita Black: The point I'm trying to make is observe your cue. Observe the routine, which is usually the mindless eating, and then look at what the brain is driving you towards, which is the reward. So sitting in front of the computer might be cue is you know, you're sitting in front of the computer, you're feeling a little bored, agitated get up from the computer, stretch, give your eyes a break, maybe go sit outside, take a few nice deep breaths in and out, come back in, sit in front of your computer and you will feel ready to focus again. Every couple of hours, our brain needs a brain break in order to function optimally. And fortunately, those brain breaks end up being four into the kitchen or into the staff room to grab a snack and come back and feel like we're refocusing when really all we need is to take a couple of minutes away from our computer stretch, go talk to a colleague.

Rita Black: You lay on the floor and play with your dog. Something that is gonna help your brain just kind of go blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah diffuse itself and then come back and be ready to focus. So and sometimes creating a mantra that reinforces this new idea of yourself, like, I am a mindful eater, or I am food free in front of the tv, that is my personal favorite. This is just a little hypnosis technique that you can do as you are transitioning into your new mindful hunger free self.

Rita Black: Okay, now last but not least, fake hunger. Okay, here we are at fake hunger, and that is the type of hunger that feels real, but really is usually due to blood sugar crashing or even leptin resistance. When we eat a meal or a snack that is mostly refined carbohydrates, sugar, white flowers based it will typically spike our blood sugar and then crash making us feel hungry.

Rita Black: Even though we may have just consumed that food that was full of calories a half hour ago or even sooner. We'll feel that pang and have that signal. Our brain, I'm hungry, I need food. But those feelings aren't true hunger. They're what I refer to as fake hunger. Now, I, a few weeks ago started wearing a continuous glucose monitor, just I'm gonna be doing this for the next few months. I'm just checking things out. So I'm not ready to report on it yet. I'm collecting lots of data and it's fascinating, but what a glucose monitor is, is I'm wearing this little thing that is continually reading my blood. I don't, I'm not pre-diabetic or anything. I am just a scientist over myself, and I really wanted to make sure my blood sugar and my insulin sensitivity was in a good place.

Rita Black: I'm, you know, turning 60 this year, and I just wanted to make sure all my health markers were in a good place. Now, my husband is has a little pre-diabetes, and so we put these on together and are checking out our foods. And it's very interesting because he can have a completely different food response or sugar response or after a meal than me. So everybody's body's reaction to food is different. What might spike my blood sugar might not spike his and vice versa. But something I have noticed is, and, and I knew this was probably gonna happen even before I had this continuous glucose monitor, it doesn't, you know, probably your best instincts about whether or not something's gonna elevate your blood sugar or spike it. Your, your best instincts are probably good enough. But for things like fruit, like pears, apples, strawberries I've eaten some of these just, you know, as a test in between meals.

Rita Black: So I, you know, it had been a few hours since I'd eaten. I ate some strawberries. Sure enough, it spiked my sugar. Now it didn't spike it super high, but what I noticed is when it came down, I felt hungry, even though I didn't really deserve to feel hungry, meaning I, you know, I had eaten a close enough time that it didn't, but it started to make me have that feeling. Same thing with an apple. Same thing with a pear. So for me, I saw my blood sugar spike felt those feelings of hunger wanted something, I got a little snacky. And so that's why I advise my students not to really eat the carbs on an empty stomach without some protein or fat eating or refined food over time, most of us know can lead to insulin resistance. But if I, I'd eaten that apple with a little peanut butter, or I had dipped the strawberries in some Greek yogurt chances are they would not have spiked my blood enough to have a decrease and have me feel more snacky, I would've felt more stabilized.

Rita Black: And even, and I have tested this out before, but I'm gonna be doing a lot more testing and then I'm gonna do a whole podcast episode on my experiences with my glucose monitor. And you might already have one or you might have one. So I'm interested, if you have had some experiences, let me know. So most of us know eating refined food over time can lead to insulin resistance, but it can also lead to leptin resistance. And not everybody knows this but you know, that hungry feeling that you can get a half hour after a meal. It could be that your leptin levels have become somewhat dysregulated. Leptin resistance is a condition where the body becomes less responsive to the hormone leptin. Leptin is produced by fat cells and plays a key role in regulating hunger and energy balance by signaling to the brain when the body has had enough and should stop eating.

Rita Black: When functioning properly, leptin helps regulate appetite and metabolism promoting energy balance. However, in leptin resistance, the body cells become less sensitive to the signals of leptin. As a result, the brain doesn't receive the message that the body has sufficient energy stores leading to continued feelings of hunger and decreased energy expenditure. Several factors may contribute to leptin resistance, including obesity. So excess body fat can lead to elevated levels of leptin, which may contribute to desensitization of leptin receptors in the brain over time or inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the body, often associated with obesity and me metabolic syndrome, can impair leptin signaling or insulin resistance. Insulin. Another hormone involved with regulating blood sugar levels as we know can interfere with leptin signaling when insulin resistance develops. Also genetics. Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to leptin resistance, making them more susceptible to obesity and related metabolic disorders.

Rita Black: So how do we manage fake hunger and ward off leptin resistance? First of all, I would take a hard look at how you're feeding yourself and radically reduce the refined foods in what you're in your diet and up the protein levels, you know, to 50, 60, 70, 80 grams a day. And really make sure you're eating wholesome foods full of fiber, like vegetables and fruits. Just manage the ladder and eat them with a protein or fat, especially in between meals after you've eaten for a couple of hours so that you're just not spiking your sugar in between.

Rita Black: Exercise definitely helps leptin. Getting into a healthy exercise routine goes a long way to helping your body recover from leptin resistance. Go for a walk after meals, that will help a lot. It's gonna help your insulin and it will help your leptin start to observe your body and what triggers fake hunger in you, because it varies. Like I said, my husband is different than me and it's amazing how different foods impact us. You don't need the continuous glucose monitor. Just tune in and start rid your diet of naked carbs, meaning those carbs on, you know, without anything with them, especially in between meals. And start putting some clothes on those carbs, you know, wrapping them up with a little fat or a little protein. You could eat fruit at the end of a meal after you've eat some protein. But definitely if you're going to eat something in between meals something healthy like an apple or a pear just make sure you're, you're blunting the sugar impact with some protein or fat.

Rita Black: Okay, so now here, let's review our hungers. We've got the regular physical hunger that we know. So well start to tune in with your hunger numbers on the scale of zero being starving, 10 being Thanksgiving, stuff full stopping at that five or six, taking a breath, sitting down and really slowly eating your meals and tuning into your body and noticing the different hunger numbers emotional hunger. Check out episodes 126, 127 for great strategies and tactics for managing your emotional hunger, environmental or hedonic hunger. Definitely employ those powerful skills of stimulus control and rule control. Mindless habit, eating hunger, definitely also start to look at your patterns, a cue, routine reward, and start replacing that eating routine, that mindless eating routine with a powerful routine, which is actually giving you something that you truly need, not just a bunch of crunchy, salty or sweet food.

Rita Black: And five, fake hunger blood sugar crashing or leptin resistance. Definitely take a look at your diet, make sure you are taking care and looking at when your sugar is spiking and crashing. And always, always ask yourself, whenever you get a cue to eat, am I really hungry? And start to look at it through the lens of these different hungers. Chances are you're gonna learn a lot about yourself, and you're gonna feel a lot more empowered in your ability to say, Hey, you know what? I'm not really hungry. I can do this instead for myself. Start to really, truly take care of that hunger from the inside out. All those other hungers other than actual true physical hunger. I hope this has been a helpful session for you. Our relationship with ourselves and our hunger is an opportunity to really tune into our body, powerfully connect with our body, connect our body with our powerful head, and really nourish and feed ourselves with love and respect.

Rita Black: So please subscribe. Send this link to this episode to a friend or a family member. Pass along the love and have a great week. And remember the key and probably the only key to unlocking the door, the weight struggle is inside you. So keep listening and find it. Have a fabulous week. I will see you here next week.

Rita Black: You wanna dive deeper into the mindset of long-term weight release. Head on over to That's, where you'll find numerous tools and resources to help you unlock your mind for permanent weight release tips, strategies, and more. And be sure to check the show notes to learn more about my book From Fat to Thin Thinking. Unlock Your Mind For Permanent Weight Loss.